Game, Set and Food
Stylish surroundings and supremely competent food at the The Ivy Café Wimbledon make it an elegant pit stop
Review by Rupert Watkins
Saying you’re off to The Ivy brings a certain frisson of expectation. In recent years, the Ivy Collection has enlarged the brand away from just the single celebrated and storied Covent Garden institution offering both The Ivy Grill and Brasserie and The Ivy Café in select locations around London and the country. Wandering on a Friday night into their Wimbledon Village café, you are immediately put at ease by the courteous front of house and glancing round the elegantly decorated former Barclay’s bank you certainly sense The Ivy’s panache coming through.
Moving past the rather smart bar, it is clear the thirsty or just downright alcoholic are well catered for at the marble topped bar; the menu offering a sound collection of classic cocktails. Taking our corner seats, my guest and I rehydrated gently with a glass of Champagne and perused the menu. Those seeking a true taste of The Ivy will be catered for as their famed Shepherd’s Pie is on the menu.
After due consideration and no little indecisiveness (from both of us), we opted for Atlantic sea scallops and Wasabi prawns with salt and pepper squid. Both dishes extremely fresh and piquant, the wasabi gave the prawns a nice bite whilst the small bed of truffle risoni gave my scallops a lovely earthy counterpoint. Given we had also chosen lighter meat for a main courses as well, we opted to accompany the meal with a bottle of 2016 Gavi Voltolino. Fresh on the nose but with a delicious mineral edge on the palette this made for good drinking and balanced all our food well.
Moving on, I pumped for the Salmon and smoked Haddock fish cake with a poached hen’s egg. The well made and nicely dense fish cake was tasty though (possibly due to the industrial quantities of herbs and chilli used in fish pies in my flat) I found it fractionally bland. However, along with the rich egg and peppery watercress, it was a very sound and eagerly demolished dish. My guest alighted on the Blackened cod fillet – and upon its arrival at the table I must confess to a pang of food envy… The cod was fresh, nutty and light; arriving in its banana leaf, the shaved radish and toasted sesame gave the lightest of lifts to the fish. As a side dish for us both, we opted for crunchy thick cut chips.
Glancing around the establishment, it is clear The Ivy Café team have put much thought into the concept. There is a slight French bistro and Art Deco feel to the restaurant with mirrors opening up what could have been a tricky space to convert. Certainly in our time there it was busy; from families to pairs of friends and couples, the custom was varied, relaxed and all clearly enjoying themselves. Having dined slightly earlier, we wandered out at about nine finding the bar rammed to capacity.
For desert, my guest went for the cheese selection. A generous array of truffled Camembert, Beauvale Blue and Quicke’s cheddar proved to be a satisfying end to the meal – all the cheeses ripe and bursting with flavour. This writer’s sweet tooth yet again joined the party with my eye alighting on the Chocolate Bombe and being quite unable to see beyond that… Rich with a crunchy honeycomb centre, the salted caramel sauce made for a sinful end to a very competent meal.
Enquires: The Ivy Café, 75 High Street, Wimbledon Village, London SW19 5EQ / 0203 0969333 / https://theivycafewimbledon.com/