The Ivy has been a London institution for over a century but in all that time, it has never welcomed guests for breakfast. Until now, as executive chef Gary Lee and his team have broken with tradition and created a menu that allows you to kick-start your day in style.
In a place like this, the room and service is just as important as the food. Having undergone an extensive refit last year, the doors have been re-opened to a glamorous, art deco look with an oval-shaped bar in the centre, offering a more casual setting, while the tables surrounding it retain the classic Ivy style with white table cloths and green velvet seating. Splatterings of modern art, while not to everyone’s taste, bring a freshness to the dark wood of the room.
What The Ivy does, it does with staggering attention to ingredients. Golden-yolked eggs come from Clarence Court, butchers are name-checked, and even the coffee has been carefully sourced, using beans from British family roaster Street & Co, and tea comes from The East India Tea Company.
We kicked off with the daily market greens juice – celery, broccoli, apple and cucumber – which, despite its Kermit colour, was delicious; well-balanced, crisp and refreshing in its celery aftertaste. We’d happily start every day with one. If you’re after something a little different, go for the Morning Tonic; an on-trend, health-focussed mix of turmeric, cider vinegar, agave, lemon, cayenne and sparkling water. With it’s anti-inflamatory properties, turmeric is the ingredient of 2016 so far.
The menu covers all the classics like eggs benedict, smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast, and the now obligatory avocado toast, but these sit alongside some more interesting options such as its super seed bowls. There are two versions of these oat, chia and flax bowls; coconut with tropical fruit compote, and almond made with almond milk which with the additions of coconut crisps, sultanas, banana, toasted nuts and cocoa nibs, provide great flavours and a satisfying crunch that makes you forget you’re being virtuous.
The vegetarian breakfast was a generous plate worth the £13 price tag (it kept us going until dinner), especially considering the beautiful room its eaten in. Scrambled Clarence Court eggs were rich in colour and taste; fat Glamorgan sausages had a smooth, cheesy filling; chunks of halloumi were seared to perfection; and little hash brown balls were tangles of crispy, golden potato. Only one criticism: the sauteed spinach was too salty for us.
While it’s clear that a great deal of attention has been paid to ensuring the kitchen uses the very best ingredients, the food is good without being outstanding, but the glamorous surroundings and attentive, well-choreographed staff make the whole experience feel special.
The Ivy, West Street, London WC2H
Written July 2016
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