OK, I’m prepared to admit that this may not exactly qualify as ‘brave’… I think the word we decided on over lunch was ‘audacious’… so that will have to do! That, plus the fact that this went onto the 50 things list because eating at a well-known and upmarket venue seemed like it would be a fun thing to do. And it was.
As part of my gamut of gifts which my friends clubbed together to buy me for my 50th birthday (see post #19) I received train tickets to London for today. Up on the 8.17, back on the 17.45 and I was meeting Heather to be taken for lunch at The Ivy as her present to me. So, suitably spruced up, I enjoyed a relaxing journey arriving at a sunny Paddington station just after half 10, where I met Heather off the Heathrow Express after her flight in from a business trip to Malta… We hopped the 23 bus to Piccadilly Circus and had a meander round Seven Dials before heading to our 12.15 lunch reservation.
For those unfamiliar with The Ivy, this is what it says on the restaurant’s website: “The Ivy restaurant has been a firm fixture on London’s dining and social scene since 1917. The restaurant and private room upstairs are the epitome of real glamour […] and the signature harlequin stained-glass windows, oak panelling and striking contemporary art collection ensure the longevity of this very British of dining institutions. Executive Chef Gary Lee creates balanced seasonal menus, featuring Ivy classics […] and an experienced team delivers the unfaltering service for which The Ivy has become well known over the years.” Indeed.
We entered to be greeted by the doorman (?), who took our bags to the cloakroom. We paid a quick visit to the (rather fancy) ladies, before being shown to our table. Menus, wine list, basket of bread and butter on a silver salver. Some water and two glasses of champagne to be going on with as we perused the menu.
I have to say, I love starters. In fact, a selection of starters would probably have satisfied me admirably. In the end we agreed to choose one each and share- Seared Foie Gras with apple galette and West Country blueberries (Heather’s choice) and Crispy Duck with watermelon and chilli cashew salad (mine). Delicious. The textures were amazing, with the foie gras almost melting in the mouth and the duck being complemented by the refreshing watermelon. Two clean plates.
For main course we both went for fish. Heather chose yellow fin tuna with caponata and fried white anchovies; I chose monkfish with crisp coppa (like roasted parma ham), white polenta and gremolata. What do you mean what’s ‘caponata’ / ‘gremolata’? Peasants. It’s not like we had to look it up on google before ordering… Anyway, the food was beautifully presented and incredibly tasty, with the added refreshment of a crisp cool Viognier to accompany. Flowing wine, flowing conversation and flowing aircon. I was really enjoying myself.
The dessert menu was the next challenge. There was lots of stuff that revolved around chocolate. And alcohol. Yeah there was ‘fruity’ stuff too, but my dining companion reliably assured me that was for lightweights. So, chocolate pudding with pistachio ice-cream (Heather) and mocha tiramisu for me. It was delish…but I have to admit it beat me and try as I might I couldn’t polish it off.
And so a leisurely two and a half hour lunch at The Ivy came to a close. We made our way out of the restaurant via the most roundabout way possible in an attempt to check whether we had any celebrity company in the house… None today, but it was worth a look!
Now. What to do with the rest of the afternoon…?
Back towards Covent Garden / Neal’s Yard we went, visiting the Fly shoe shop, The White Company, Neal’s Yard Organic and United Nude shoes amongst other places. We popped into ‘Relax’ for a 10 minute ‘chair massage’ (as you do on a Saturday afternoon), and then decided it would be fun to hop a bus to the Oxo Tower for more champagne overlooking the Thames. After which there was just enough time for the walk to Waterloo and the tube back to Paddington for my train home.
A fabulous day all told – one which made me think that day trips to London are something I’d like to do more often. And if they can include fancy lunches, champagne, shopping and a massage, I’m certainly not going to complain. Definitely the kind of life my head and body think I was born to live… shame my bank account doesn’t agree.
Thank you Heather for giving me a day to remember 🙂
[23 down, 27 to go]