I recently flew back to Dublin for my 30th birthday and was on the hunt for one of the city’s bougiest restaurants to celebrate. Having not been out in Dublin since the pandemic, I checked in with my mates (who have lived in the city since my UCD days) and it came as no surprise that The Ivy was featured on pretty much everyone’s list. Although a large body of water exists between its restaurants in London (that I’ve frequented a handful of times in my 10-year stint in England), it seems that The Ivy’s glowing reputation precedes itself, even in Ireland. Carrying a thirst for a strong drink and curiosity to see if it squared up to its siblings across the sea, I made my way to Dawson Street hungry and with high expectations.
There’s no point in lying (we’re all friends here, right?!). I’ve been to a few restaurants belonging to The Ivy Collection. From York to London, I’ve dined with them for press nights, like the brunch where they collaborated with Absolute Elyx through to a romantic dinner that was born from a very successful first Hinge date (yes, these do actually exist). So, it’s fair to say that I had a fair bit of knowledge under my nose before my Dawson Street visit. Arriving during Friday lunchtime, it was pretty clear that this particular Ivy was one of the younger of the clan. Having only opened in 2018, the interiors were nothing if not immaculate. Hundreds of large, golden frames showcasing unique prints hung on the walls, electric blue velvet chairs hugged gold-plated tables, burnt orange upholstered booths cleverly broke up several spaces and the foliage. Dear lord, the foliage. Blossoming, plants of all varieties were potted in vases that looked like they belonged in a glossy magazine. The Art Deco bar, however, was the most impressive jewel in the crown, patterned with showstopping colours and a headband of flourishing greenery.
Seated with menus in hand, it was fantastic to see both familiar and new dishes on the Dublin menu. Opening our three-course meal, I started with an unfamiliar dish: popcorn shrimp with yuzu-pickled mooli, sesame and kimchi sauce (€13.50). A selection of plump prawns were coated in a crunchy batter and a lip-smacking sauce. Whoever's in charge of menu development for London - they need to add this dish pronto. My plus one went for the old reliable: salt and pepper squid with wasabi mayonnaise, lime, coriander and chilli (€10.95). We dunked long, curling spirals of squid into a fiery wasabi mayonnaise until all that was left were deep-fried crumbs and very little restraint to not order another portion.
Kickstarting our boozy lunch, I had a helping hand with a cherry margarita from The Ivy’s signature cocktails section (€15). Mixed with Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, Cherry Heering liqueur, lime, sugar and saline solution, it was an interesting, sharp take on the classic. Plates cleared and new cutlery placed in front of us, we were geared up for the main event: the monkfish and prawn curry Keralan curry (€31.95) and the fish and chips (€19.95). The fish, although I declined a nibble, was a mammoth masterpiece of battered cod, crispy chips, mushy peas and creamy tartar sauce (a must when ordering fish and chips). My curry, however, wasn’t on the money when it came to flavour. It was sadly bland and for the price tag, I’d expect a lot more prawns and chunks of monkfish.
Dessert and a decadent Champagne cocktail, thankfully, came to the rescue to end our meal on a high. I cannot stress this enough but in the world of desserts, Healy’s honey and white chocolate cheesecake (€11.95) is a different kind of triumph. The buttery biscuit base propped up a silky smooth and wobbly cylinder of cheesecake that left my eyes bobbling to the back of my head in satisfaction after each spoonful. Served with a scoop of mango sorbet and a wedge of honeycomb, as far as creative desserts go - it doesn’t get much better than this. The sparkling pear-tini (€17) was another last-minute order that I didn’t expect to like as much as I did. It was fragrant with heavy notes of pear, served with a delicate fan of sliced pear, swirled together with Absolut Pear Vodka, Italicus Bergamot Liqueur, Lillet Blanc, vanilla, and fresh lime juice before being topped with a generous splash of The Ivy's own Champagne.
The DesignMyNight Digest
When it comes to restaurants, choices are plentiful in a place like Dublin. But when time is of the essence (like it was on my short stint in the city) it’s sometimes the smart practice to stick to what you know rather than going on a wild goose chase. Although I was left underwhelmed by my main course, The Ivy delivered on starters and especially dessert. When it comes to the looks department, it remains to be one of the city’s slickest hangouts too, forever drawing in a trendy crowd thanks to its brand and good old word of mouth. So, my advice to you? If you have something to celebrate in Dublin, make sure this place is on your consideration list. If I’m willing to hop on another Ryanair flight for a bite of their cheesecake, you know they're doing something right.
Hungry for more? Click here for our guide to the best restaurants in Dublin and sign up for our future newsletter.