The Ivy Market Grill – Afternoon Tea in Covent Garden:
An iconic brand with its own entry in Wikipedia, The Ivy closed for refurbishment recently, re-opening on 1st June this year. Meanwhile, Caprice Group, the holding company for a number of fine dining restaurants in London, have opened a couple of ‘outposts’ of the original Ivy; the Ivy Chelsea Garden and the Ivy Market Grill in the heart of Covent Garden Market. Another is on the cards too, in Marylebone Village.
Afternoon Tea is a good way to check out a new venue so I was delighted to be invited along last week to the Ivy Market Grill. Their afternoon tea offering includes a classic tea for £19.75, or £27.50 and there’s also the option to have a cream tea for just £8.75 per person with scones, clotted cream, jam and tea. That beats Starbucks hands down!
The interior of the Ivy Market Grill owes a lot to the original Ivy – bistro style with comfortable leather seats and banquettes, but with the elegance of white table linen and traditional silverware. Comfortable and charming, it has a retro feel that works well as an escape from the frenzy of Covent Garden. Perfect for afternoon tea.
After a welcome glass of champagne, we were offered teas. While the selection is limited, there’s a good range of options including their own blend afternoon tea, green sencha and jasmine pearls. I opted for a classic Earl Grey and was just a little disappointed to spot a teabag. My head tells me there’s no difference…but loose leaf tea with a strainer is just that little bit more luxurious somehow.
Our tea arrived all at once, though with the scones rather prettily presented on their own tower.
Three savouries – a truffled chicken gougere (which seemed just a little overcooked), delicious and light smoked salmon blini with cream cheese and chives and a marinated cucumber and dill sandwich were on the top tower. We’d eaten a good lunch so declined the offer of a second helping of everything.
The scones, while not ‘warm from the oven’ were very fresh, nicely moist with just a bit of crumbliness. And, they were a decent size. While I couldn’t eat the fresh strawberries, my companion enjoyed the treat!
Two full plates of cakes seemed quite generous. We both found the pastries excellent – a tiny mouth-wateringly delicate lemon meringue pie, fragrant lavender and almond macaron and a chocolate opera cake. It’s very easy to get the cakes for afternoon tea wrong – too large and they are overwhelming, while miniatures can easily result in an oversweet cake or one with stodgy pastry. Here they were spot on.
While I enjoyed the fruit cake and the cheese, once I’d tried them together I ended up dissecting and eating mine separately. I suspect it’s all about what I am used to!
The afternoon tea at the Ivy Market Grill is good value and for the most part excellent quality. For under £20 you can have a tea that is more substantial than a lot of three-course meals. And, if you add in the champagne, you’ve got a celebratory event. The Ivy Market Grill is a lovely place to relax as well. Service was excellent and the ambience pleasant and comfortable. So, if you want somewhere to take a break when you are shopping in the area, or to enjoy tea before a show why not try for yourself.
The Ivy Market Grill,
1 Henrietta Street,
London, WC2E 8PS