Restaurant review: Leap into spring at The Ivy St Albans

Cocktails at The Ivy in St Albans.

Cocktails at The Ivy in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

Spring is finally here, and with the change in seasons comes a new selection of specials at The Ivy.

The salmon special with courgette fries at The Ivy in St Albans.

The salmon special with courgette fries at The Ivy in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

The restaurant is a London bubble in our commuter city, offering a very different atmosphere from our other leading eateries, and it feels as though you've stepped out of St Albans and into somewhere much more glamorous. Although it doesn't demand it, The Ivy subconsciously makes you want to dress up, and enjoy the most out of what is always a special occasion.

We ate early due to sleep deprivation as a result of our newborn daughter (who slept oblivious in her pram for some of the time we were there), and even at 5pm the restaurant was close to being full. There was a mixture of small groups meeting for cocktails, families and friends, older couples and those intriguing first dates, so a real cross-section of patrons.

We started off with a glass of Champagne and a Blood Orange Marguerita cocktail, an unusual twist on a classic with Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila, Cointreau Blood Orange Liqueur, hibiscus, lime, grenadine, orgeat and orange juice, because if you're visiting The Ivy, you really want to go all out.

For starters, my partner opted for the Seared Atlantic scallops, which are accompanied by smoked cauliflower purée, capers, lemon, golden raisins and samphire tempura. She said they were so tender she didn't need a knife to slice through them (handy as she was holding a baby in that hand!), and they melted in her mouth. Delicious.

I chose the warm crispy duck salad, which came with five spice dressing, toasted cashews, watermelon, beansprouts, sesame seeds, coriander and ginger. The watermelon added a freshness to the sweet duck which meant the whole dish transcended the norm, and was probably my highlight of the meal.

For her main course, my partner had the roast fillet of salmon from the specials board, and she ordered some crispy courgette fries as a side. Perfectly cooked and full of flavour, it certainly didn't disappoint.

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I selected the venison burger, also from the specials menu, a bit of a departure for me from my typical choice, but which had a rich depth of flavour which exceeded my expectations.

The new vanilla cheesecake from the Spring specials looked amazing, coming with mango, passion fruit and tropical sorbet, but by the end of our sumptuous mains neither of us could manage dessert.

Although The Ivy is a chain, it remains a gem in the city's restaurant offerings. The staff are exceptional, and although we arrived with baby in pram at no time did we feel as though we were an inconvenience, and service was faultless from start to finish. Here's to our next visit!