Published on October 21st, 2015 | by Clarissa Waldron0
Afternoon Tea at The Ivy Market Grill, Covent Garden
Summary: The little sister venue proves that she’s got what it takes to carry the family name
For those of you who may not know, The Ivy Market Grill is a sister restaurant of the fabulously famous celebrity haunt ‘The Ivy’, also located in Covent Garden. Though only a year old, the latest instalment in Richard Caring’s high-brow restaurant portfolio (which includes Scott’s and Daphne’s), The Ivy Market Grill already demonstrates an atmosphere that exudes capability and poise, placing guests in an environment of structured order where every request is earnestly looked after.
On a chilly Sunday afternoon, we arrived into the restaurant, slipping passed the already full outdoor seating area. Considering the nip in the air I immediately assumed the inside restaurant was packed out… or that all these patrons were visiting from Arctic territories. The Ivy Market Grill offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a prime location and considering its heritage it is bound to always draw a large crowd.
Stepping in to the warmth of the restaurant we were indeed told our table wasn’t quite ready. So we perched at the bar, taking in the impressive surroundings which resonated very much of a 1930’s New York bar frequented by only the highest of society. Beautiful dark wooden panelling as well as mosaic floor tiles, immaculately dressed staff and marble effect walls all acted to take us back in time to the era of the Wall Street Crash.
Bringing us back to reality we were escorted to our wax green leather sofa seat in the corner, by a window, where we ordered the Champagne Afternoon Tea for two. While the menu only listed a handful of teas, including Earl Grey and Lemon Verbena, it advised patrons to ask for the full selection. I wasn’t wholly enamoured with the given choices and decided on the Peppermint Tea which our waitress verbally recalled on request. I found it a bit odd that the full list of teas wasn’t definitively included as available and had to be asked for, and it seemed almost as if the other choices aren’t a part of the standard Afternoon Tea menu. Our other tea request was for The Ivy Market Grill’s own Afternoon Tea blend.
The champagne arrived first, followed by our tea in beautiful silver teapots. Be warned the teapots are searingly hot and its best advised to use your napkin to pour as they don’t cool down very much! Even after leaving the teapot to sit for a good 15 minutes I still manged to burn my tongue when taking a sip from a second pour. Quality stuff.
Our food took a bit longer to arrive than expected, considering much of its preparation goes into freshly making 3 finger sandwiches per person. The sandwiches and cakes arrived on one stand thankfully, as table space is tight, while a smaller stand displayed our scones.
There really was little to fault with the whole experience. Both food and service were exemplary – the tell-tale sign of excellent service is, of course, the return of your server to check if everything is OK. Our lovely waitress appeared twice to check and offer us tea top-ups. To be expected in a dining spot of this calibre, but certainly appreciated as the tables filled up and the theatre crowd descended for dinner.
As steaks and lasagnes were ordered around us we nibbled on the Truffled Chicken Gougére, which was a highly impressive savoury tidbit not just for its moreishness, but as a rather contemporary take on the finger sandwich – think miniature chicken burger.
And if a hunk of cheddar cheese on fruit bread sends a shiver down your spine then I implore you to try it. Agreeably an odd combination, (I love anything that pushes the boundaries of gastronomy) this sure works. The sweetness of the bread blends perfectly with the mature richness of the cheese, igniting a flavour overdose for your tastebuds but no doubt the start of a wonderful addiction.
The Lemon Meringue Pie oozed great amounts of lemon curd while a surprise unlisted treat revealed itself to be a liquored cherry on first bite, encased in rich chocolate. For coffee lovers, the Chocolate Opera Cake is a richly caffeinated Tiramisu standin, while the intricately decorated Lavender and Almond Macarons glistened in the light, two beautiful decorations on the plate that we initially didn’t want to disturb.
As evening set in, and the light outside dimmed low, we finished on a high in The Ivy Market Grill with two fruit scones each bringing our Afternoon Tea to an end. Thick, nicely browned on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, the scones were irresistible, accompanied of course by cream and jam with a lovely Ivy Market Grill touch in the form of chopped strawberries.
Strolling out of Covent Garden nicely filled, it occurred to me that with London being renowned as the Afternoon Tea capital of the world, with offerings like this in the heart of the city, I don’t think that could ever change.
The Ivy Collection Afternoon Tea is available from 3pm to 5pm, Monday to Sunday priced from £19.50
The Ivy Market Grill, 1 Henrietta St, WC2E 8PSShare This Post