There’s been one glaring question in our minds since The Ivy opened in Ship Street last month, and that’s how much it would rely on its history as an iconic A-List hangout status. It may have developed as a chain since those wondrous years as part of Twinkletown, but the excitement around the restaurant continues, with successful turnouts in Tunbridge Wells, Cambridge and Bath. However, in a city with such a thriving food scene as Brighton’s, can The Ivy compete?
The answer is a resounding yes – but hardcore foodies may prefer their independent eateries. We tucked in to the Atlantic Sea Scallops (£11.95) and Crispy Duck Salad (£7.95) for starters, which were both full of flavour and cooked to perfection – the former accompanied by pea and broad bean puree, sea cress and crispy shallots (a textural feast), and the latter with cashews, watermelon, coriander and ginger.
For the main, I chose the yellowfin tuna (props to The Ivy for shunning Bluefin in preference for this far more sustainable fish; £17.95), which was seared and coated in sesame seeds, and accompanied with wasabi mousse, daikon cress, fennel and edamame beans. It was a delightfully light Asian-inspired dish, which went down a treat. My dining partner was slightly disappointed with his sirloin steak (£23.50), which arrived well-done although he had requested medium rare, however this was alleviated slightly by the truffle and parmesan chips (£4.50), which were indulgent. We were surprised to see a surcharge of £2.75 for béarnaise sauce, however it was so delicious we let it slide.
We then opted for the cheese board to share (£9.95), before greedily ordering a dessert each: the theatrical chocolate bombe (£8.50) for myself, and the cappuccino cake (£7.25) for my companion. We were both impressed with the combination of flavours in these, marking an excellent end to the meal.
Our full meal – four courses, plus a quality bottle of Riesling and cocktails – came to £177.24 including a 12.5% service charge. It’s certainly not what we would typically pay for a casual meal out, and we even consider it a little overpriced for the overall quality of food, however as predicted, you pay for the name and the opulence in The Ivy – which, in fairness, it does deliver in spades. Go for an occasion – your guest will thank you.
It’s been the hottest ticket in town since it opened last month, but we wondered: does The Ivy in the Lanes really live up to the hype? As anyone who has been to any of the other brasseries can attest, the interiors across the Ivy brand exude indulgence – and the new Brighton site is no exception. As we enter, we’re met with vibrant décor, golden details, large palm plants, and rich terracotta banquettes, all set neatly around a vast bar lined with luxuriant mustard stools in the middle of the room. “It’s the first Ivy which people are really seeing as a location just for drinks,” said restaurant manager Michael Doudeskos. With its casual, quintessentially Brighton atmosphere (which extends to the drinks menu, adapted for the space), it’s easy to see why. While the space boasts 240 dining covers, the bar takes centre stage, an array of delectable cocktails and an impressive wine and spirit list on the menu.
We pick out the Candy Floss Fizz (£10) to begin – a Prosecco and rosé concoction combined with lychee, ginger and three-year-old Havana rum, topped with a generous cloud of candy floss. It’s as sweet as one would expect, and however the ginger cuts through it nicely, adding a hint of zing reminiscent of a fresh spring morning on the Palace Pier. The Pavilion Passion (£10.25), named after the city’s most opulent palace, is equally as sweet, however this one comes with impressive pyrotechnics. Though the Brighton-esque cocktails certainly impressed, we were blown away by the Salted Caramel Espresso Martini (£8), which is an incredibly strong contender for best espresso martini in Brighton. It comprises Wyborowa vodka shaken with Bepi Tosolini Expre liqueur, fresh espresso and salted caramel syrup – and not a drop of Kahlua in sight. The Apple Shore (£9.50) and Plum Tree (also £9.50) are also worth a mention, offering something a little different to the menu. Arrive hungry? Pair the above with bar snacks such as the truffle aracini (£5.50) and zucchini fritti (£5.75), and you’re on to a winner.