I always get really excited when new restaurants open in Marylebone, as it just means it's a good excuse to check them out on my lunch break. Working in Marylebone has it's perks, that's for sure. Sadly my waistline isn't so enthusiastic about these new arrivals. After travelling so much in September/October I hadn't really had the time to eat out much, so last week I went to try out the new Ivy Cafe.
Caprice Holdings is one of my favourite restaurant groups in London (the only restaurant of theirs I wasn't a fan of was Rivington in Shoreditch),and is the parent of Le Caprice - a family favourite - as well as The Ivy and all of The Ivy's sisters. The Ivy Cafe is the latest Ivy sister, and is more of an informal bistro nestled on the very cute Marylebone Lane, just a few doors down from 108 Brasserie.
I hadn't seen Kiran properly for a couple of months, aside from a quick hello at Cains birthday the other week, and as he's a man of leisure while I'm a working woman, he came to me for lunch so I didn't have to spend too much time just walking to the restaurant (does anyone else hate that?!).
We booked a table, however you don't really need to as half of The Ivy Cafe's tables are reserved for walk-ins, a similar policy to The Ivy Market Grill. The restaurant is beautiful and light, and feels like an 'Ivy' restaurant, with the typical design features; dark woods, leather, big mirrors, and art work adorning the walls.
The menu is full of The Ivy classics, including the famous shepherds pie, and there was a good mix of fish and meat options. As it was lunch I didn't want anything too OTT so I chose the Croque Madame, while Kiran opted for a favourite of mine; Grilled Swordfish.
I have to say, I got major food envy and am going to have to try the Swordfish next time I visit. My Croque Madame was okay, but just okay. The egg wasn't runny (sad times), and the Croque itself tasted quite earthy. I'm not sure if it was the ham, cheese, or the sauce they used, but I wasn't a huge fan. Thankfully the chunky crispy chips made up for it, they were delicious!
We had a bit of time left so decided to just go all out and have dessert as well. Kiran had the panna cotta which is a favourite of his, while I had the chocolate bombe.
I think this was probably one of the best chocolate bombes I've ever had. Caprice Holdings certainly know how to do desserts - I've never had a bad one in any of their restaurants! The waitress poured the hot caramel sauce over the chocolate sphere to reveal the vanilla ice-cream and honeycomb centre.
The milk froth combined with the melted chocolate, caramel and honeycomb was so rich and decadent!
Although I was disappointed with my Croque, I'm definitely going to be back just so I can work my way through the amazing menu! The desserts were fantastic, the service was top notch, and there was a really buzzy atmosphere as the place filled up with locals and business lunches. If you're in the area, go check it out!
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