Little imagination, yet The Ivy's quality and service excel 27 Reviews
Enjoy sumptuous seasonal fare accompanied by the sounds of vocalist Ciaran Fox singing jazz melodies and accompanied by the saxophonist. Happy hour from 5pm to 7pm Timings: 8.30pm 24 December 2013
Wave goodbye to any Christmas blues with the Taste of The Ivy Brunch on Boxing Day, an eight course extravaganza complete with jazz favourites. Dhs195 (with soft drinks); Dhs395 (with house beverages); Dhs495 (with grape degustation and house beverages); Dhs595 (with sparkling and house beverages) Timings: Noon-4pm 26 December 2013
Friday brunch at the Ivy will have a festive overhaul from December 6th and all throughout December with classic Christmas additions like mulled grape, festive turkey and Christmas pudding. From Dhs195 Timings: noon-4pm 6 December 2013
Enjoy festive fun with a delicious four course menu as Ciaran Fox delights lunchtime diners with jazz melodies. If you join for dinner, British singer Rachael Calladine and Bulgarian composer-pianist Stoyan Stoyanon will keep you entertained. Dhs550 Timings: 12pm 25 December 2013
Choose between an eight-course degustation menu of taster plates or a three-course set meal. Dhs190 (soft drinks), Dhs375 (house beverages), Dhs495 (eight courses with grape pairing or three courses with bubbly) Timings: Noon-4pm (Friday)
Offering a two-course set menu of traditional British classics. Dhs150 Timings: Noon-3pm (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t decry there being a Starbucks on every street corner. I know I should, but I like the guarantee of being able to buy a half-decent cup of coffee wherever I happen to be the world.
There’s no denying that there’s an element of Starbucks to Dubai’s high-end dining scene. Chefs will make their name in London, Paris or New York, then bring it to Dubai – think Gordon Ramsay, Gary Rhodes, Pierre Gagnaire or Jamie Oliver. The same can be said for renowned restaurants: first La Petite Maison from the Côte d’Azur, and now The Ivy from London. Yes, there’s a part of me that wishes an independent restaurant could open here and win acclaim in its own right, but there’s another part of me – the Starbucks part – that likes the idea of eating in places like The Ivy without having to catch a plane to London.
Ironically, getting a reservation at The Ivy in London would probably have proved easier than getting one here in Dubai. Even before it opened in Jumeirah Emirates Towers, The Ivy Dubai’s waiting list was longer than Sheikh Zayed Road. To compound my woes, my June 3 reservation had to be rescheduled on account of the official opening date being pushed back to June 9.
I soon discovered that The Ivy here has not only managed to replicate the kind of hype associated with the original, but has also successfully replicated the venue in every last detail – from the wall-to-wall wood panelling and distinctive green leather chairs to the famous stained-glass lattice windows. If it weren’t for the work of prominent regional artists adorning the walls, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d woken up in the West End. But if you’re willing to embrace this illusion, you’re likely to have a very enjoyable experience.
I was more than ready to embrace the illusion. With temperatures outside hitting the high 40s, I was happy to escape Dubai just for a few hours. My illusory London getaway was made all the more sweet by the service. From the moment my date and I walked in to the moment we sat down and the moment I covered the pristine white tablecloth with breadcrumbs, the service was faultless. You can argue that The Ivy Dubai lacks soul, but its service is genuine and warm.
And so to the menu. Traditional British staples are The Ivy’s trademark, and to expect anything more (even after a three-week wait for a table) is unrealistic. But I’m a fan of fine British fare, so it was with great satisfaction that I ordered kedgeree as a starter. I appreciate that a traditional breakfast dish containing smoked fish, rice and eggs isn’t the most orthodox opening to a meal, but it was the first time I’d seen it on a menu in Dubai, and I couldn’t resist. The result? Unexciting, but wholly satisfying. The chef hadn’t tried to do anything clever with the dish, but I was overcome with nostalgia – I was transported back to my mother’s kitchen (my mother is a great cook) and was already tempted to ask for seconds (of course, I didn’t ask for seconds because I couldn’t afford to spend another Dhs60.) I hadn’t paid my date’s shellfish cocktail the slightest bit of attention, but she assured me it was very good. I took her word for it – my mind was already onto the lamb rack I’d ordered for my main course.
I was apprehensive because I’d passed on the legendary shepherd’s pie (after all, how good can shepherd’s pie really be?) in favour of a simple dish costing a princely sum of Dhs190. Quite a gamble considering I could have had two portions of my date’s salmon fishcakes for the same price. But the gamble paid off… more or less. As with my kedgeree, the tender, rosy-pink lamb was faultlessly prepared and I was once again whisked back to my mother’s kitchen table for a taste of home.
Our meal concluded with the chocolate bombe – a spherical shell reduced to a brown mess by the molten chocolate poured over the top. It was wickedly rich, but it quickly faded in memory as we paid the bill and headed to the bar for a drink.
By 8.30pm, the venue was buzzing – every table was full and receiving as much attention from the waitress and maître d’ as we had enjoyed earlier in the evening. I was won over. I’m unsure whether someone of continental culinary heritage would be as enthused by The Ivy’s dishes, but then The Ivy is less of a dining experience than it is a restaurant experience – and, in this respect, it excels.
The bill (for two)
1x Shellfish cocktail Dhs80
1x Kedgeree Dhs60
1x Salmon fishcake Dhs95
1x Lamb rack Dhs190
1x Green beans Dhs30
1x Chocolate bomb Dhs65
1x Still mineral water Dhs20
Total (excluding service) Dhs540
Time Out Dubai,
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