After buying the Caprice Holdings, more than 10 years ago, Richard Caring’s investment in restaurants and clubs never stopped! However, just in 2014 he dared to use the name of what would be, most likely, the most famous restaurant in London, The Ivy, and create new spaces around such a powerful brand.
The special thing about the classic The Ivy (which celebrates 100 years in 2017) is not only the comfort food, service or decoration but the fact that during years making possible for the common mortal to share a dining room with the most important figures and celebrities of London and the World.
For the opening of its first spin-off (nowadays they are several already), Richard Caring installed right in the heart of the famous square of Covent Garden with the “new classic” The Ivy Market Grill.
The space was perfectly chosen, a building of historic facade, an inviting terrace with view to the bustle of Covent Garden, and the interior divided into 2 floors.
The metal, wood, and leather are kings in the decoration, in a very masculine and bourgeois environment that quickly transports us to the historic cafés in Paris, London or NYC. The bar honors the Ivy Original, the reduced space between tables reminds us we’re in a kind of brasserie and the pieces of silver bring us the comfort and identity of other times. That’s one of the talents of Martin Brudnizki’s studio, in charge of the decoration making a new restaurant seem part of that square since forever.
But let’s leave business, decoration, and glamor aside and talk about the reason we’re here, the food and warranty seal of The Ivy. At this Market Grill the idea was to create an all-day dining, with options for breakfast, the 5 o’clock tea, the pre and after theater menus (being on the West End). Creating for that a menu based on comfort food, mainly British, with options for every taste.
And we start very well with a toast of champagne, made especially for the group, The Ivy Collection Champagne.
Smoked Salmon, Crab and Fennel cream
Nicely smoked salmon with elegant notes of wood, bringing complexity to the aroma and flavor of the fish. Nice texture and very well paired with the crab and fennel cream that freshens the combination. Simple and effective, a beautiful start!
A French classic, well worked, meat perfectly cut by hand, nicely seasoned with the pickles, the shallot, the parsley and a sauce of tabasco and mustard, enrichened by the greasiness of the yolk. A great tartar!
A version that wouldn’t for sure embarrass Mr.Rossini!
The most emblematic dish of the brand The Ivy – the English version of meat pie – here prepared with lamb blade cooked at low temperature along with veal and a potato puree with a good dose of butter and Cheddar. True comfort food, rich and greasy flavors, perfect for the cold felt in London by the time of our visit. Accompanying, sautéed bimis with lemon zest.
Frozen Berries, White Chocolate, and yogurt ice cream
The fresher option of the dessert menu, revealing a good game of textures and temperatures, between the frozen of the red fruits, the creaminess and acidity of the ice cream and the hot white chocolate sauce. Simple and effective.
Chocolate Bomb, milk foam, honeycomb, vanilla ice cream and salty caramel sauce
It’s the most famous dessert of the restaurant and the opposite of the previous one – a bomb of sin and sweetness – in which all the elements blend together with the salty caramel sauce, creating a desirable combination (while closing your eyes and forgetting the calories).
Accompanying was a white from the Veneto region in Italy, a Soave Clássico da Suavia, 2015, 100% throat, a light white, fruity and easy to drink, with citric notes and minerality showing well. In terms of reds, we chose a 2013 Lalande de Pomerol, a Plaisir de Siaurac that although not creating history, did not compromise the harmonization with the meats, thanks to its spices and red fruits notes and its elegant tannins. A remark also to the glasses, that with a short foot makes them less interesting to the tasting.
About the service, the mentions couldn’t oddly be better, it is impressive the attention given in a room with so many seats, serving non-stop from breakfast till dinner. Rythm, sympathy, knowledge, recommendations, joy – the service at the Market Grill is really well trained and it is one of its biggest strengths.
The Market Grill is much more than a spin-off of a famous product, it’s an homage to The Ivy but it has its own identity. Its atmosphere invites us to stay and enjoy the charm and Bohemia from other times, while the cuisine transmits sensations of comfort, with simple dishes, well elaborated and with good produce.
For sure it’s not the most surprising restaurant for a gastronomy experience, but it is one of the right places to live London, with its energy and bustle through the table.
The Ivy Market Grill
Average price: £30 per person, without wine or fees
1 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden – London
+44 20 3301 0200
Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses