I’m certainly not the first to put pen to paper (or digits to keyboard) following the opening of The Ivy's highly anticipated Spinningfields venue in November last year. I am, however, one of the few, it seems, to be reporting back without so much as a hint of scathing or scoffs of ‘style over substance’.
The exuberant bar and restaurant offering is antique and Art Deco in all the right places, yet still effortlessly cool and contemporary. Or as one-hit hip hop wonder Migos might say, this b*tch is bad ‘n’ boujee. The entire place is dripping in opulence but we were here to dedicate our attention to the Ivy Asia restaurant.
Unique to Manchester’s share in the affluent Ivy Collection, Ivy Asia sits atop of the infamous Ivy Brasserie. The extravagant room is illuminated by a semi-precious jade floor and a real sight to behold with its gold-gilt ceiling, lavish Asian fabrics and bustling mirrored bar. The atmosphere is sophisticated but casual. This is the place to be.
Now, this is where I’m going to be a little anomalous and say that the edibles and beverages we had were fantastic. I’ll admit, at times, that flavours could have packed a little more punch but that really would be tantamount to nit-picking. The Pan-Asian menu is inspired by Head Chef, Steve Scoullar’s, treasured travels across Vietnam, Cambodia and Tokyo. His worldliness is translated into an extensive menu of small and large dishes, alongside a comprehensive wine list and selection of cocktails influenced by traditional Asian flavours.
Highlights were the tempura crispy squid (£8.75) delicately dusted with chilli powder and cooled back down with a silky Asian tartare sauce, as well as, the fresh yellowfin tuna tataki (£8.50) from the intriguing raw & cured menu. We were also totally enamoured with the sticky, sweet black cod miso (£29.50) and the fragrant but tender duck massaman curry (£13.50), embellished with a generous handful of crunchy cashew nuts.
At the bar? I contently sipped my way through a long muddle of coconut rum, black sake, coconut cream, pineapple juice and prosecco which has aptly been dubbed the Proseccolada (£10.50). My other half kept it simple with a clean, crisp Chablis (£11.50) recommended by our knowledgeable, velvet waistcoat-clad host.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Okay, so, Ivy Asia (and The Ivy as a whole) is clearly more expensive than your average eatery with plates ranging from about £5 for table nibbles through to £50 for a modest serving of wagyu beef. However, when considering the quality of the ingredients, the calibre of culinary expertise and the overall experience, I’d say it’s worth every glimmering penny. It truly is somewhere I’d recommend experiencing, even if it’s just to grab a cocktail at the bar and admire the place like one gargantuan cabinet of curiosities.