What's on the menu this autumn at The Ivy St Albans?
PUBLISHED: 11:21 23 September 2019
Ben Carpenter Photography
St Albans' own branch of The Ivy restaurant has unveiled a new menu to mark the end of summer and the onset of autumn.
The brasserie is shifting away from salads towards more substantial dishes reflecting seasonal fare and the cooler weather, and I was invited along to sample a selection of their fare.
After cocktails - an Expresso Martini for me and rosemary lemonade for my expectant partner - we played it safe for our starters.
She enjoyed seared Atlantic scallops, which came with cauliflower purée, caper butter, tamarind glaze, apple batons and a golden crumb. She said the flavours were delightful without overpowering the delicate taste of the scallops.
I opted for the crispy duck salad, accompanied by five spice dressing, toasted cashews, beansprouts, coriander, ginger and sesame seeds, plus the unusual - but successful - addition of watermelon to add a refreshing alternative to the sweetness of the meat. An excellent start.
My main course was chicken Milanese, the breast covered in brioche crumbs and accompanied by a fried egg and truffle cream sauce (I declined the Parmesan cheese which usually comes with the dish), plus some thick cut chips as a side.
Although the chicken proved too much for me to finish, that was no reflection on what was a delicious offering, with subtle tastes and different textures balancing together in perfect harmony.
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My partner's main course was one of the new autumn dishes, a braised steak of yellowfin tuna accompanied by mussels in a sauce of tomato, saffron, chilli, red pepper and rosemary.
She eagerly tackled what was a huge piece of fish, again nicely cooked (she usually opts for it barely cooked, but because she's pregnant it needs to be heated through) but not overdone. The sauce had a good kick to it, but it wasn't super hot and the opulent mussels added a nice texture. All in all a great dish.
Although we really should have called it a night after two courses, we were tempted by the dessert menu, and resolved to work off the extra calories down the gym later in the week.
I had rum baba, plantation rum-soaked sponge with Chantilly cream and raspberries; decadent and delicious, what more can you say?
She went for the melting chocolate bombe, which contained a centre of vanilla ice cream and honeycomb, served with a hot salted caramel sauce.
She said: "This is such a OTT dessert! I love it as it's not only fun to watch but offers a perfect mix of flavours without being hugely filling - by that time I didn't have much room!"
We enjoyed attentive service in a relaxed environment even though it was busy.
If you've yet to experience one of St Albans' best franchise restaurants then the new season should offer the perfect excuse to try.