Covent Garden well-known for its famous vegetable market back in the day is now a popular shopping and tourist site. We arrived on a cold Sunday afternoon with an end goal of dinner at The Ivy Market Grill and a mission from a very stern ballet teacher.
Unbeknown to me (until that week) Covent Garden is also home to every professional ballet shop under the sun. Thank god! As I was having a mild panic attack when I realised I couldn’t just order Radha’s exam shoes over the internet (like I do with every other item I use in my life). In the words of the ballet teacher ‘ballet shoes are as important as the dancing’. They had to be snug fitted satin ballet shoes, professionally fitted with sewn in pointe ribbon (by me! god help the ballet shoe). Bloch experts in such things since 1932, kitted out Radha’s feet for her Grade 1 ballet exam. Only after she’d tried on nearly ever pair either side of her size due to her extremely slim feet.
Mission accomplished. With a happy ballerina in tow, there was only one place left to go – The Ivy Market Grill!
There’s nothing like a family connection, is there? It takes you a long way, and it’s certainly worked a treat for this restaurant. Part of the Caprice Holdings group, The Ivy Market Grill is little sister to The Ivy. Since its arrival in 2014 it’s gone from strength to strength with new openings in Chelsea, Marylebone and Kensington.
More accessible – you won’t find any doorman or waiting lists here. It offers all-day brassière style dining with a dash of the Ivy magic. Managing to pull off a casual, relaxing atmosphere whilst still being surrounded by old school glamour. From the mosaic floor tiles, teal leather upholstery, panelled mahogany walls, marble table tops to the antique brass chandeliers.
This was my second visit, the first being a booze filled food fest with my girlfriends. I’ve got to say I do love this place! It didn’t disappoint from a family dining perspective either. They were very welcoming and even had a children’s menu. Yes! you read correctly…’Ivy’ and ‘children’s menu’ in one sentence. It’s the standard sausage and mash, fish and chips and chicken or pasta. But there is nothing standard about the quality of the dishes.
The à la carte menu is extensive with a retro Continental feel to the dishes. Be prepared to set aside some time for an intense menu perusal. It’s going to a take a while to decide. There is also a good value pre and post theatre menu too. Two courses £16.50 and three at £21, which won’t break the bank.
We started with the much raved about zucchini fritti. Crispy courgette fries with lemon, chilli and mint yoghurt. Starter? It was the biggest mountain of zucchini strings I had ever seen. Very tasty and very moreish albeit lacking a little salt. Look away healthy gurus, yes I wanted to add extra salt.
The girls fish and chips were monster portions too. The thick, whiter than white flakes of cod wrapped in crispy batter were gobbled up in no time. The generous potion of chips also meant I could siphon off a chip or two or three without being told off.
Asha loved the half a lemon wrapped in muslin it came with and asked if it was wrapped in a blanket because it was cold. Once her fears were settled that it was merely to catch the pips, she proceeded to squeeze every last drop. And probably ended up with the zingiest tasting battered fish.
My baked rigatoni provencale was delicious. The gooey mozzarella, perfectly grilled courgettes and juicy peppers slathered in the tangy tomato and olive sauce had me scraping my metal dish clean.
Mr S chose the line caught swordfish, served with red pepper, olive and pesto cous cous, topped with lemon and baby basil. It didn’t last long. A sure fire sign that it hit the right spot. It was all washed down with a glass of fruity, zesty New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. There are wines by the glass on the list for a relatively inexpensive £5.
Salted Caramel ice-cream was the dessert of choice for the girls. It arrived with two thin buttery shortbread biscuits. Asha pulled the classic ladies line of ‘No, I don’t want any’ (she’s only 4!) and then steam rolled into Radha’s dessert.
Sharing was the theme. Mr S and I jointly devoured the sublime dark treacle tart, served with clotted cream ice-cream and jersey pouring cream. Double heart attack! It was rich, sticky and oh so good!
The Ivy Market Grill is restaurant dining with comfort food. It’s inexpensive and all packaged up with a hint of glamour. Serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea I have plenty of reasons to go back again and again and again.
What’s your favourite comfort food? And is there a restaurant that serves it up perfectly? Let me know in the comments box below.
The Ivy Market Grill | 1 Henrietta Street | London | WC2E 8PS