Friday, 26 January 2018

Local Eat Treats #66 Banking on a Good Night at The Ivy

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last month or so, you’ll have either already visited the new place in town, or at least heard all about it. The Ivy Brasserie has come to Cheltenham and it really is making quite a stir - for all the right reasons.

For weeks before they opened, I would often walk past and see the new team doing lots of training, and after visiting, it seems all that hard work has paid off. From the moment we walked through the doors, we were greeted with a smile and made to feel a million dollars. We were seated at our table (lucky number 27!) and were so well looked after all evening; it’s the kind of place where they fold your napkin when you pop to the loo. 
Our waiter was Ryan, who before this, was serving hordes of drunken racegoers at Cheltenham racecourse. Well I must say, he has adapted - extremely well – to serving a more genteel crowd (well I speak for myself, although he has probably served me on a less civilised day at the racecourse too!). 
We started our evening with a cocktail each: Mine the Cotswold Passion (which I’ve had before and just HAD to have again) and Kingsley the Buttered Manhattan. I didn’t get any shots of the interior, but if you do ever have the chance, have a cocktail at the beautiful bar in the centre of the restaurant before being seated at your table. It’s breath-taking. 
We both opted for seafood starters, with me having the Atlantic sea scallops which are served on a bed of truffle risoni (which I know as orzo pasta), a good dose of parmesan and sweet potato crisps to top it all off. Oh gosh. It was perfect and even more so washed down with a glass of Riesling recommended by the duty manager. Kingsley had the tempura prawns and it was the best tempura either of us have ever had; seasoned to perfection and beautifully light. We moved onto meat for mains, but from what we had, it’s fair to say this place is on top of its fish game, with super fresh produce and well thought-out, flavoursome dishes.
The menu is pretty extensive, but there was one dish that literally yelled at me from the page and that was the aromatic duck curry served with jasmine rice. As it was put down in front of me, I knew I’d made the right choice. Aromatic? No doubt about it! I’m a sucker for a coconut based curry, but add tender duck, a kick of chilli, the freshness of lemongrass, a squeeze of lime and some roasted cashews for a bit of crunch to that, and you’ve got one hell of a curry! Kingsley kept looking over at me with puppy dog eyes, but` I only gave him one forkful. This curry was so good, it was most definitely NOT for sharing!
Kingsley went all meaty with the slow-roasted lamb shoulder which had one heck of a mustard and herb crust and was served atop some creamy mash. It came with a little pot of glazed root vegetables in a rosemary gravy. There was of course a hint of mint to the dish and with lamb that melted in the mouth and a silky smooth gravy, Kingsley was very happy, he just would have been even happier had I shared a bit more of mine with him. Greedy bugger. 
After dinner, I spotted a table near us indulging in salted caramel espresso martinis, and so rather than going for a full-on pud, I chose the mini chocolate truffles to enjoy with my cocktail. Oh crikey, those tiny little truffles snapped as I bit into them and oozed liquid salted caramel from the centre. I have to say, I was super impressed with all of my food (and drink) choices throughout the whole evening. All of it was perfect. 
Kingsley ordered the cherry ice cream sundae which I referred to as an ‘adult knickerbocker glory’. And Kingsley agreed, he felt like it satisfied the big kid in him, but looked the part to be served at The Ivy. With mini meringues, the best shortbread and a warm cherry sauce to pour over the top, this dessert is best suited to those with a big appetite – like us!
Everything about our visit to The Ivy was just so lovely. I want to go back already! 
Right, just booked afternoon tea…

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