Emma Dance experiences the glitz of The Ivy Clifton Brasserie
There’s no doubt that The Ivy Clifton Brasserie has the wow factor.
The high ceilings, wooden panelling and arched windows from the building’s former incarnation as a bank still remain, but what was once a rough diamond has now been cut and polished to perfection to become a glittering gem.
The centrepiece to the main dining space is the stylish Gatsby-esque mirrored bar where white-jacketed bartenders sashay back and forth among the gleaming shelves creating signature cocktails. It’s old-school glamour at its finest – and I love it.
Our table in the newly-created Orangery is the perfect spot for a summer supper, bathed in the evening sunshine and with a view of the pretty courtyard.
The menu is full of the sort of dishes that you really want to eat and as we deliberate we see some lovely, lovely things appearing from the kitchen including plates laden with fish and chips, brightly-coloured salads and towering burgers. It makes choosing rather difficult but we allow ourselves to be guided by our charming waiter and arrives in front of us definitely doesn’t disappoint.
My steak tartare (£9.25), a cushion of ruby-red meat topped with a velvet layer of emerald-green parsley and crowned with golden egg yolk, tastes as good as it looks with the tabasco dressing giving just the right warmth to the sweet-soft beef and cornichons and shallot adding crunch and salt. Husband’s tuna carpaccio (£8.95) is fresh and delicate with hint of zing from the accompanying spiced avocado and lime crème fraiche.
The rich, heady scent of truffle arrives almost before my Chicken Milanese (£15.75) makes it to the table. The brioche-crumb coating is crisp and perfectly seasoned, encasing a succulent piece of chicken but it’s the truffles, both shaved and enrobed in the mayonnaise, that lift the dish from great to sublime. A side of truffle and parmesan chips (£4.50) is perhaps overly indulgent, but I have no regrets. The Ivy Clifton Brasserie doesn’t feel like the type of place that demands restraint.
Husband’s Clifton Brasserie shepherd’s pie (£13.50) is no ordinary shepherd’s pie. Underneath a cloud of fluffy Cheddar mash is not just slow braised lamb, but also beef. It’s rich and delicious and more-ish – the ultimate comfort food.
Desserts are a work of art. A coconut pannacotta (£6.95), nestled at the heart of a bouquet of slivers of chilli-infused pineapple is light and fresh and tastes of summer.
By contrast, the signature chocolate bombe (£8.50) is the ultimate in decadence. A perfect half-sphere of milk chocolate conceals a centre of milk foam, vanilla ice cream and honeycomb until it gives way to a stream of hot salted caramel sauce. The melange of textures, flavours and temperatures mean that every mouthful delivers a different, tastebud-tingling sensation.
Even though it’s only the second day of opening when we visit, service throughout the evening is seamless. Plates come and go with smiles and everyone seems relaxed.
It might bear the name The Ivy, but the brasserie is a very different branch of the family tree to the iconic celeb-hangout. There’s already a handful of Ivy Brasseries in London – along with Ivy Cafes and Ivy Market Grills – all intended to be spin-offs of the original, rather than duplicates, and the Clifton outpost is the first foray outside the capital although planning is also underway for another in Bath.
The Ivy Clifton Brasserie isn’t pushing any culinary boundaries, but what it is doing is delivering elegant, classic dishes exceptionally well in sumptuous, luxurious surroundings. And I think it’s a winning combination.
The Ivy Clifton Brasserie
42-44 Caledonia Place
0117 203 4555