Newest kid on the food block, The Ivy Café, has joined Marylebone’s foodie scene amidst a spree of new openings and rapid expansion plans for operator Caprice Holdings.
Offering a ‘bijou and relaxed’ all day dining environment, The Ivy Café has a remarkably similar feel on the inside to Fischer’s, the informal Viennese café opened by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King just up the road 18 months ago – coincidentally the former owners of the original ‘The Ivy’. From the banked seating to the art work on the walls – even the design of the bathrooms looked similar to Fischer’s.
Fortunately there is no smoked herring or schnitzels on offer at The Ivy Café, the menu instead offering a range of ‘casual British’ options – ranging from prawn cocktails and smoked salmon to start, to rib-eye steaks, fish and chips shepherds pie for main courses.
When we first arrived, we spent a few of minutes in the entrance waiting for our table to become free and found waiters coming up the stairs with trays of food and directly through the small entrance area. I can only imagine (and hope) that a dumbwaiter lift was soon to be installed, as dragging every meal up to the restaurant on foot from downstairs left the waiters playing an awkward game of ‘shuffle around the customer’, whilst I saw them often having to stand at the bottom of the stairs with trays of food waiting for customers to pass down the same stairs in order to access the bathrooms.
The service throughout our meal was fantastic, with a knowledgable and clearly passionate waiter guiding us through the menu. We tasted the smoked salmon and crab and chicken liver parfait to start – followed by two Argentinian rib-eye steaks that were perfectly marbled, flavoursome and nearly melted in the mouth, accompanied by truffle and parmesan chips and a herbed green salad in a vain attempt to make everything feel healthier. The Ivy Café has a warm and convivial atmosphere. Much like us, the rest of Friday nights’ guests were clearly enjoying the start of their weekend over hearty British food and a good bottle of wine. We certainly did, having been recommended a bottle of Grenache to accompany our mains.
The food and service aside, it has to be said that the space between tables here is limited. Sat on a row of tables for two, it was hard not to overhear the conversations of those sitting either side and just a little too close for comfort at times.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at The Ivy Café – whilst the menu doesn’t present anything mind blowingly remarkable in what it offers, the quality, execution and atmosphere rank The Ivy Café in the top few in Marylebone for an informal and highly satisfying neighbourhood meal.
96 Marylebone Lane
Nearest tube: Bond Street
Phone: 020 3301 0400