The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Never wanting to miss out on a chance to dabble in a spot of SW3 people-watching, I decided to brave the tennis-match style booking procedure and eventually convinced the third reservationist in as many weeks to hand me a weekend dinner slot in London’s trendiest new garden.
As most of you will already know, the Ivy has spread its wings and most recently opened up a casual-dining extension of the world famous Covent Garden institution, and where better to position the arm of this star-laden haunt than Chelsea’s fashionable Kings Road.
After a relatively poorly organized start to proceedings, where front of house failed to explain that they were waiting for a table to clear in the Garden (it was a sunny Saturday evening), we were finally escorted to the bar where I commenced my analysis of the small but interesting cocktail menu. The theme here was clearly “garden” related with numerous floral and herb liquors and condiments making an appearance in nearly all of the drinks featured. Whilst this may seem a little too obvious at first glance, the drinks on offer were actually reasonably well thought out and a perfect accompaniment to the slow, all-afternoon sipping that would be generally adopted by the plethora of ‘beautiful’ regulars that descend on this fine establishment every summer’s weekend.
Oh, did I mention beautiful people? Once escorted to our Garden table, and performing the ritual ‘see-who-is-sitting-at-the-tables-next-to-me’ glance, it became very apparent that either the rest of the clientèle was placed here from a local modelling agency for some kind of ‘secret garden’ video shoot, or in fact, they have actually turned away anyone who rolls up here without an outfit featured in the pages of Vogue.
Now onto the food…
For starters, our table tried the Truffle and Pecorino Arancini – highly recommended and probably required more than one portion due to their ‘moorish-ness’; the Prawn Cocktail – nothing to shout about and was expecting so much more; and the Crispy Prawns with Wasabi Mayo – quite simply the juiciest ‘fried’ prawns you will taste this year.
We were encouraged to try their signature “Lobster Rigatoni” as a main course, which apparently contains the meat of a 1kg lobster. They warned me of the large portion size (presumably, anything beyond a tea-saucer sized amount would naturally offend the local clientele’s diet plans & personal trainers), and they weren’t exaggerating. It arrived in its own metallic oven tray with an enormous amount of lobster meat, but for me sadly too little of the utterly delicious lobster cream sauce. I can see why this dish is popular though.
I also sampled the Chicken Milanese with brioche breadcrumbs, topped with a poached egg and black truffle shavings. This accompanied with our perfectly cooked Truffle and Parmesan Chips really shows off what the Ivy Chelsea Garden is all about, and that is well-cooked, well-thought out, simplistic brasserie cuisine designed to soak up the copious amounts of garden themed cocktails whilst watching the (designer clad) world go by over a lazy summer’s weekend.
With that said, the highlight to this enjoyable early-evening alfresco foray had to be savouring every single mouthful of their ‘melting’ chocolate bombe filled with honeycomb and ladled in salted caramel sauce. I will certainly be coming back for more!