When spring hits, the UK's garden centres come alive with a rushed hubbub to fill hanging planters and bicker over just about anything to do with a new sprinkler that you're never going to use. By spring in the capital however? The Ivy are already in full bloom.
A cafe name known for stunning interiors that go toe to toe with the maximalism of the Sistine Chapel (with a history that dates all the way back to 1917), we were invited to review the Tower Bridge location, and of course, I had mum in tow; after showing her the art of a tinnie on the train on the way in, it was time for art in the dining space.
When you're not lapping up the location of The Ivy Tower Bridge, with unspoiled views of the city's most iconic suspension experience (get a table outside and you'll see it looming in full effect), The Ivy drips with its iconic style, promising an almost theatrical dining experience of distinct prints, art littered across the walls, with specks of gold for days. Let's be honest, when even your bathroom sinks are glittering pink marble, you're saying something.
Also saying something is this spring's menu. With nods to seasonality, the bees and freshness combined, it's a lovely touch that gives the normally classic bistro-menu a punchy stance. Kicking off with two cheese-led starters, a buffalo mozzarella is joined by salsa verde, pistachios, courgettes and a green herb dressing (£9.25), while the twice-baked cheese souffle is an impressive copper pan of Monterey Jack, black truffle and a cream sauce (£8.75). Both of these dishes bring my argument in to play: why can't all food just be cheese food? The light freshness of the mozarella was a great opener, while the souffle was a plumped up experience that I was not willing to share.
Mains came in the shape of a salmon and smoked haddock fish cake with a soft poached hens egg (£14.75), while my mum was in the business of steak, with her plate boasting a thick grilled beef fillet, flanked by wild mushrooms and a perfectly rectangular potato rosti (£32.95). What you need to know about my mum? A trip to The Ivy has been on her bucket list for years, and she's pretty tricky when it comes to meat; meaning that a plate cleared, is a slow clap for The Ivy. And while my fishcake had just as much to it as the fillet, it was almost too big to finish, which for the price tag, is actually very fair.
Closing the show was a black bee honey and white chocolate cheesecake with mango sorbet, honeycomb and an edible flower (£9.25). While I don't care too much for edible flowers, this was a dessert with unbridled and pretty charm, that not only, was truly, undoubtedly, one of the most interesting and delicious cheesecakes that I had ever had, the smack from the sorbet gave the whole dish a chance to appeal to all palates.
The DesignMyNight Digest
I'm not going to encourage my mum to replace her bucket list of pretty dining with throwing herself out of an airplane, not when the mozarella is this good. And while you'd dare to call The Ivy a chain, no matter how many times we go to, time and time again, the brand prove that with a little finesse and a lot of pink marble, they continue to be the name that people simply can't ignore, with menus that truly capture each and every season.
💰 The damage: Just over £150 for three courses and wine, for two people.
📍 The location: One Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2AA
👌 Perfect for: family lunches that need a little va va voom, and the perfect mother daughter date.
⭐ Need to know: toilet selfies are must, and any cheese starter The Ivy have on the menu is worth trying.