When I first heard The Ivy were coming to Edinburgh, I was pretty excited. Although I’d never visited their legendary London restaurant, I was aware of their reputation as a luxury celeb hangout. The original restaurant dates back to 1917, but in more recent years The Ivy Collection have expanded across the UK with a selection brasseries, bistros and cafes.
The Edinburgh restaurant, The Ivy on the Square, is the latest addition to the collection. It opened a couple of weeks ago and, after enjoying champagne and canapés on their opening night, I couldn’t wait to head back to try out a full meal and see if the menu lived up to expectations.
What We Ate at The Ivy on the Square
The Ivy has a reputation for being luxurious yet relaxed, and the menu features high quality produce made into comfort food classics. The menu is an all-day one, with versatile dishes to take you from morning to night. I was tempted by the shepherd’s pie, which is one of The Ivy’s signature dishes, buuuuut… there was too much to choose from to play it safe with a shepherd’s pie!
From the starters menu, it was the crispy duck salad which caught my eye the most. Served with toasted cashews, watermelon, beansprouts, coriander and ginger, the five-spice duck was perfectly sweet and crispy with a fresh chilli kick. It was a good sized portion too, so managed to keep the lunchtime hunger pangs at bay. Owen opted for the Scottish smoked salmon for his starter, which came served with rye soda bread and fresh lemon. It got the thumbs up too.
As Owen was starting a new job a few days later, we decided to use our lunch a The Ivy on the Square as an excuse to celebrate. So, we went all out with the mains and both opted for two of the most expensive options on the menu. Oops! As a side note, I was pleasantly surprised by the prices in general – most mains are around £14 which is pretty reasonable for a fancy restaurant in the centre of Edinburgh.
Anyway, I chose the lobster for my main, which was served with garlic and herb butter with thick cut chips. The lobster was succulent and delicious, especially when drenched in the garlic and herb butter! The chips were equally good, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Owen went for the on-the-bone ribeye steak with chips and green peppercorn sauce. It was cooked nicely medium rare and very flavoursome. Unfortunately we were too full by this point to sample the dessert menu but we did have a couple of cocktails instead – I’d recommend the refreshing Princes Street Garden.
The Atmosphere at The Ivy on the Square
The Ivy on the Square – as the name suggests – is located on St Andrew Square. Overlooking the garden from its position on the corner of the square, it feels quite tranquil inside despite being right in the city centre. The decor is stunning with lots of gold and green everywhere, and bright leather and marble touches. It almost feels like you’re stepping into a grand, vintage Titanic-style ocean liner. You’ll find the bar downstairs along with a few tables, and more seating in the dining room upstairs.
We visited on a Tuesday lunchtime and it was surprisingly busy and buzzing with a mixture of people on business lunches, friends catching up and families celebrating special occasions. Despite being a relatively fancy restaurant, it didn’t feel at all intimidating or formal. It’s the sort of place where you could end up mid-shopping trip in your jeans and t-shirt and not feel out of place, but equally if you fancied getting dressed up for dinner that would be totally fine too.
Worth a Visit?
Overall, I was really impressed with The Ivy on the Square. I was a little worried it might be one of those “all style, no substance” kind of places, but it wasn’t at all. The food was delicious and the portions were generous. The majority of the menu is quite classic, but there are a few slightly more modern, inventive dishes too, so there will be something to keep everyone happy.
The service was very friendly and attentive throughout our meal, although we did feel a little bit ignored after our plates had been cleared as we had to wait a while to order another drink and then aaaages to finally settle our bill. This wasn’t a big deal, however, and certainly wouldn’t put me off visiting again.
Have you been to The Ivy on the Square yet?
Main image courtesy of The Ivy on the Square.