It’s been over a year since The Ivy first opened in Leeds and it's gained somewhat of a cult following. But I've never quite understood the hype because, compared to a lot of restaurants in the city, it’s pretty expensive. I filed it under ‘overpriced chain restaurants’ in my mental list of places to eat without a second thought... until now.
From outside, you can tell that The Ivy is fancy, but walking inside is a whole other layer of wow. The venue is stunning; tiled floors, chairs that could belong in a castle and brightly coloured walls covered in eclectic prints. Everything is well put together and highly polished, including the staff who are uniformed but extremely friendly. If Blair Waldorf came to Leeds, this is exactly where she would be heading for dinner.
The menu is vast, but not overwhelming. After a starter of cocktails - the signature Ivy Royale (£10.25); a delightfully light take on the Kir Royale and Roundhay Gardens (£9.75); a refreshing elderflower number - we try the yellowfin tuna carpaccio (£9.95) and crispy duck salad (£8.75). Pairing duck with juicy watermelon, the salad is divine, while the apple, jalapeño and avocado-topped yellowfin melts in the mouth.
Glazed in a soy and sesame then baked in a banana leaf, this isn't just any cod.
For our mains, it's beef fillet steak (£29.95) and blackened cod (£17.50) served alongside a glass - or three - of the house red. The wine is reasonably priced - £20 for a bottle or £6 for a glass – and easy to drink. The steak is perfectly medium rare and served with a stunning red wine jus, sprouting broccoli, miso butter and crunchy thick-cut chips. Moist and beautifully plated cod arrives with a pile of yuzu mayonnaise; we have it with green beans and roasted almonds.
Portion sizes are hefty enough that you could easily leave it at mains, but how can we resist dessert? Opting for the chocolate bombe (£8.95) and malted banana ice cream (£7.50) - which also comes with chocolate brownie, caramelised banana, and candied pecans - we end on a sweet note. If I wrote songs, I would dedicate an entire album to the chocolate bombe. It's got a honeycomb centre with hot salted caramel sauce melting to become a lava flow of sugary sauce, interrupted only by shards of oozing chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Up until this point, I manage to maintain a cool, collected version of myself but I really have to refrain from licking the plate clean.
The DesignMyNight Digest
When it comes to my judgement on The Ivy, I have to admit that my perception was off. It might be one of the pricier places to eat in Leeds but the quality of food and depth of flavours combined with the stunning décor and friendly staff, make it well worth a visit. I’d recommend going for an occasion, dressing the part and leaving space for the chocolate bombe. No doubt.