The Ivy on the King’s Road is as pretty as a picture.
The original Ivy in the heart of London’s’ West End has been a favourite of celebrities for years; with accomplished cooking and a great location, it’s easy to see why. It’s also renowned for being a restaurant where it’s very difficult to secure a booking. So it’s good news (for those of us who aren’t celebrities) that in recent years the Ivy commenced a programme of expansion. There are now 20 off-shoots including Covent Garden, the City, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, Wimbledon, and the Ivy, Chelsea Garden on the King’s Road. These are more relaxed, and it’s certainly easier to book a table in one of the newer cafes or brasseries that the original. Very wisely, the menu does feature some of the signature dishes from the original Ivy, so you don’t have to miss out on the famous Shepherd’s Pie if that’s what your heart is set on.
I’d spent the day at Chelsea Flower Show and so it seemed apt that I’d been asked to review the new floral cocktails in the Ivy Garden. I walked from the Chelsea Flower Show up to Sloane Square and along the King’s Road. Many of the retailers and restaurants were taking part in Chelsea in Bloom and the whole area was full of stunning floral displays – what an enjoyable walk.
The exterior of the Ivy was likewise a beautiful sight; covered with blooms from floor to the top of the ground floor, it had passers by taking their lives into their hands by stepping out onto the King’s Road and into the traffic in order to get a better look.
The interior is deceptive, it stretches back a long way and includes a bar, the interior restaurant, a very pretty Orangery, an exterior terrace restaurant and an exterior bar.
We chose to eat outside in the pretty garden as it was a very pleasant spring evening. Whilst we browsed the menu we sipped on one of cocktails that had been especially created to evoke the floral display.
The Silent Sparkle was made with Silent Pool Gin (surely one of the prettiest bottle designs around), ginger and lemongrass cordial, lime juice and Ivy Champagne. This was similar to a French 75. Whilst it was enjoyable, I didn’t think that the balance was quite right, just a little more acidity would have helped for me.
I started my meal with creamy avocado and crab; a classic combination, but with the twist of being served on a disk of watermelon. Topped with edible flowers this made for a pretty, light and refreshing dish. A perfect ‘girly’ starter. My partner, Alex, chose a lobster risotto. Chucks of succulent sweet lobster nestled in a perfect soupy risotto. He loved this dish.
We then sampled another cocktail from the new drinks list. This time it was the Chamomile Garden, again featuring Silent Pool Gin, it also contained honey water and Fever Tree Tonic with a spritz of chamomile aromatics. This was a long refreshing drink, perfect for warm summer evenings.
Alex seemed to be feeling the need for meat and chose a classic Ivy menu item of rib-eye steak. He requested it rare, and it arrived perfectly cooked, served with watercress and a peppercorn sauce.
My black cod was presented wrapped in the leaf in which it had been cooked.
Unwrapping the leaf revealed succulent cod which flaked apart. Served with a citrusy ponzu sauce and shaved fennel it was utterly delicious.
We loved our meal and cocktails at the Ivy Chelsea Garden. For those who are fans of al-fresco dining, it’s worth noting that smoking is permitted in the Terraced Garden. If it’s something you dislike, you should request a table in the Orangery or the inside restaurant.
If you want to see the wonderful wild meadow installation at the Ivy Chelsea Garden, it’s going to be in place until 28th July, so there’s still time.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
195-197 King’s Road,
Chelsea, London, SW3 5EQ
0203 301 0300
Alternatives in Chelsea which we can personally recommend include The Imperial Arms, a delightful gastropub on the King’s Road and The Painted Heron – a quirky and innovative Indian restaurant on Cheyne Walk.
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Ivy Chelsea Garden.