Stacey Black samples modern British dishes in a sophisticated setting
Clifton is home to some real Bristol gems, and The Ivy Clifton Brasserie is a suave addition. This restaurant has been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to its glamorous patrons ever since opening its grand doors almost four years ago,
The converted bank building manages to be impressive whilst still being welcoming, and the main dining room is a wonder. The gleaming curved bar takes centre stage in the huge space, and the mix of cornflower blue walls and mustard yellow chairs give a bit of a Mad Men-feel to the place. Hanging on every available space is art from various eras, and I can imagine myself spending a long lunch there, Manhattan in hand.
Weaving amongst the diners, we were shown to our table in the orangery. This really is the sweet spot. Tables for two or four are scattered about the place, and big leather sofas provide a place to lounge and enjoy a cocktail or two. Positioned at the back of the chic room, our table overlooked the little garden outside.
To kick things off, our wonderful server Romena offered us a choice of champagne or a cocktail, and since I was feeling fancy on a Monday evening, I chose a glass of bubbles. My partner went for the salted caramel espresso Martini, which tasted like a sumptuous dessert. We happily sipped on our drinks and nibbled at our olives as we watched the dining room fill up from our table by the window.
As a starter, my choice of jackfruit and peanut bang bang salad was a winner. A rainbow of shredded mooli, carrot, chayote and Chinese leaf was interwoven with chunks of mildly spicy jackfruit and peanuts, and topped with crispy wonton, coriander and sesame seeds. The whole affair was crisp, sweet and juicy, and very moreish. I did try to replicate this at home with less success and certainly not as much finesse.
My dining partner chose the seared Atlantic scallops as his starter. Four firm, buttery orbs soon arrived, accompanied by cauliflower puree, apple batons, caper butter, and tamarind glaze, all topped off with a golden crumb for texture. He assured me that they were sweet and just yielding enough, and he took his time to enjoy them.
When it came to choosing a main, I was genuinely spoilt for choice. My top picks were The Ivy vegetarian shepherd’s pie or the Keralan sweet potato curry, but the roast butternut squash with grains was my preferred dish this particular evening. A big slice of squash was heaving with buckwheat, chickpeas, pumpkin and sesame seeds and pomegranate, and given a bit of a kick with harissa sauce and coriander dressing. The considerable portion meant that I was struggling halfway through, but my partner helped me out.
His main of sole meunière was a delight. The plate was dominated by a whole lemon sole with beurre noisette, caper and parsley, and a large wedge of lemon on the side. Since fish is best enjoyed with a hefty portion of carbs, he also chose a side of truffle and parmesan chips as an accompaniment.
Fresh and simply grilled, you can’t go wrong with an elegant dish like this.
After another round of beers for my partner (the Untitled IPA is an incredibly drinkable pale ale), we were ready to think about dessert. Well, my partner was. Being pregnant with twins leaves a lot less room for dessert these days. Sad times. It’s no secret that this guy has a sweet tooth, and the malted banana ice cream was too tempting. The fudgy chocolate brownie with melting caramelised banana ice cream went down a treat, and the candied pecans and cocoa nib tuile added a nutty dimension to what could have been a cloying dessert. Just lovely.
The Ivy Clifton Brasserie, isn’t just a place to see and be seen – it’s a spot to enjoy delicious modern food, with just a touch of luxury. Go on, treat yourself.
Images: The Ivy Clifton Brasserie and Stacey Black
42-44 Caledonia Place, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4DN / theivycliftonbrasserie.com
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