Restaurant review: Christmas at The Ivy in St Albans
- Credit: Archant
Although for my partner and I a night out at The Ivy brasserie in St Albans usually means a romantic dinner for two, we decided there’s no reason why it shouldn’t also be a family event, and on this occasion brought along two of our three daughters to share in the experience of our favourite local restaurant.
With the second lockdown now lifted, it’s (Covid-safe) business as usual for the brasserie, with plenty of space between tables – something other diners probably welcomed when it came to our brood!
Middle sister Mollie (five) unfortunately missed out this time round, so we were with 11-month-old force of nature Connie and a very impressed Anwen (eight), who found the sumptuous surroundings and stylish servings very much to her taste. It certainly felt very festive, with an awe-inspiring Christmas tree holding pride of place next to our table.
As has become tradition, we started off with cocktails, selecting from the limited edition festive menu. I opted for the Truffled Flip, which was effectively a “tiramisu” cocktail consisting of Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, egg white, Tiramisu syrup and cream shaken, finished with cocoa powder and a salted caramel chocolate truffle. My partner had the Winters Kiss, a blend of Haku Japanese Vodka, peach liqueur, Fino Sherry and cranberry syrup, finished with Fever-Tree soda water and Prosecco. A decadent and delicious duo to begin our evening.
For starters, my partner selected the lobster and prawn cocktail, a generous portion with lots of Marie Rose sauce and baby gem tomatoes, while I chose the roast pumpkin soup, which came with truffle ricotta, pine nuts and crispy sage. You can’t go wrong with a decent soup, and this was exceptional!
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For her main course, she had a butter-laden turbot meuniere, which came with capers and Brussels sprout leaves, the latter which she didn’t get to try after Connie snatched them off her plate!
In return, she kindly assisted with her children’s fish and chips, which was a huge portion and definitely up to the same high standard as the adult fare.
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Perfectly cooked, perfectly delicious, were her simple but fair comments with regards to both dishes.
I decided to embrace something different for my main course, and plucked the goose shepherd’s pie from the Christmas menu. This was confit goose served with pigs in blankets, creamed mash potatoes and a cranberry sauce. What superficially looked to be a small dish was actually more than I could manage, but it certainly didn’t disappoint with its rich, deep, festive flavours, all washed down with an impressive bottle of Chilean Merlot.
Anwen polished off her sausages and mash with gusto, but saved space for The Greatest Snowman, a beautifully crafted design disguising a vanilla parfait with a raspberry heart.
I just about found room for the creme brûlée with cinnamon berry compote, because, well, we haven’t had many opportunities for a decent meal out over the past month, and I wanted to finish off in style!
Despite Connie attempting to eat the baubles on the Christmas tree, and sending a very understanding waitress flying when she decided to sit down in front of her, the evening was a triumph from start to finish, with amazing food and exceptional wine delivered with grace and charm by our serving staff. Perhaps next time we’ll come without the kids though!
If you’re looking for the perfect start to what is sure to be a very different Christmas this year, then there really is only one place to choose, and that’s The Ivy.