Dinner at The Ivy Clifton Brasserie

There are certain restaurants that everyone seems to have heard of, regarding of whether or not you ever have any intention of going there. For me, The Ivy is one of those places. I’ve never been to the famous London restaurant and yet the name evokes images of classic glamour, sophistication and very expensive food. What I hadn’t realised was that The Ivy Collection brings The Ivy experience to a selection of brasseries and cafes around the UK – or I hadn’t until I went to The Ivy Clifton Brasserie. Initially I was put off going by assumptions I made about the price and atmosphere but having been once I have no doubt I will return, either to the Clifton Brasserie or to one of the others in the collection.

Situated in an old bank in the heart of beautiful Clifton Village, The Ivy Clifton Brasserie certainly has the sophisticated surroundings that you might expect. Still expecting to feel slightly out of place, I soon relaxed once inside as whilst the interior was lovely, it was a suitable setting for anything from a cocktail party to a family dinner. The menu was much the same. Whilst the extensive wine list did offer plenty of options I simply cannot afford, there was enough of a range there that you didn’t feel like you had to spend your life savings in order to enjoy a nice meal. Don’t be put off by the name – whilst it still feels like the sort of place you’d come for an occasion, it’s not extortionate and makes a lovely location for a date or long overdue catch-up.

We visited on a Sunday evening and so ate from the A La Carte menu but if you are looking for a cheaper option then there is a great value set menu available from 11:30am-7:30pm Monday to Friday. Usually I enjoy looking at restaurant menus in advance to decide what I’m going to have and whet my appetite, but as going to The Ivy was a bit of a last minute decision I hadn’t had time to. It only mattered because there was so much choice. I can usually find something I want to eat on a menu, but it’s rare that there is so much I want to try I just can’t decide (but it’s another great reason to go back!). I was impressed, particularly by the range of different fish dishes available.

We decided collectively not to have starters, but did order some salt-crusted sourdough bread to share whilst enjoying our drinks. On the recommendation of our waitress, and because I’m a gin fan, I had the Lavender Lady to drink and it was lovely. It was beautifully presented with a sprig of lavender on top and was just the right balance of fruitiness as I had worried it might be a bit sweet. I could quite happily have had more than just the one!

For my main course, after much deliberation, I opted for the aromatic duck curry. I love duck, which is the main reason for picking the dish and it didn’t disappoint. The duck fell apart in my mouth and the flavours of the curry were strong enough to taste but not overpowering. If I went back again I’d probably opt for something different because everyone’s food looked wonderful and there were plenty of other things I was keen to try.

Initially we hadn’t been planning on dessert as we were going to be heading home for birthday cake, but given how great the food had been so far we simply couldn’t resist. I chose the rather decadent chocolate bombe which was everything that I hope for in a pudding. It was rich, it was chocolate-y, it had salted caramel sauce, it had ice cream and then it had the bonus of honey comb pieces too. What more could a girl want?! It was also beautifully presented and the “melting” element of the dessert was good fun to watch.

As you’ve probably gathered, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and definitely plan on returning. I’ve been enthusing about the restaurant to anyone who’ll listen. My only complaint about the whole experience was the fact that the toilet lights were so low. I’m not sure if the bulbs were dying or if it was intentional, but it was a bit dim and certainly wouldn’t have allowed for touching up on make-up. Otherwise I was very content. The menu was great, the food was delicious and I left feeling satisfied but not overly full as can often happen with rich food.

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