Stepping off the cold, rainy street into The Ivy on Oxford’s High Street was magical, an oasis of colour and tropical plants greeting you, the roaring 20’s décor continuing unabated.
Having tried some exquisite cuisine at The Ivy’s flagship restaurant in London I had high expectations and my tastebuds were tingling in anticipation.
we were slightly horrified to find the names ‘skull crusher’ and ‘bone marrow’ on the cocktail menu, but no human remains were involved in the making of them
Well looked after by our lovely waitress Molly who took care of our order and made sure we had everything we needed, we knew we were in for a real treat,
Starting with a cocktail each from their new spooky Halloween selection, we were slightly horrified to find the names ‘Skull Crusher’ and ‘Bone Marrow’, but were reassured to find no human remains were involved in the making of them. Instead they had been swapped for the more enticing honey tequila and fruit juices, although our drinks didn’t come until after our starters had been served, which was a shame.
We chose salt and pepper squid, with a deliciously moreish wasabi and miso mayonnaise which had a subtle but unmistakable kick, amplified by the szechuan salt and siracha topping which warmed just enough without blowing your head off. Contrastingly, our other starter of white onion and truffle soup (which immediately caught my eye on the menu), was rich, creamy, and oh so decadent.
Dramatically poured table side, the soup was added to a tower of caramelised onion, artichoke puree, truffle mascarpone and delicate slivers of crisped artichoke which made for an indulgent start to the meal, the sweet, caramelised onions giving a pleasant bite to the smooth soup.
When our drinks did finally arrive, we were pleasantly surprised by how delectable they looked, adorned with fresh flowers and fruit. The ‘bone marrow’ was a sweet and citrussy affair, frothed with egg white, while the ominous ‘skull crusher’ fortunately did not live up to its name and provided a fruity mix that was just the right level of sweet.
The olives we ordered as a nibble also didn’t come until after the starters which slightly interrupted the flow of the meal, although they were some of the juiciest gordals I’ve ever seen.
Now time for the mains; the menu was very diverse meaning we struggled deciding on an option, but settled on the blackened cod fillet; baked in a banana leaf, with a soy marinade, citrus-pickled fennel, grilled broccoli and a mayonnaise flavoured with yuzu and chili.
The fish came perfectly cooked, if there was a bone to fall off it would have done but could have done with more of a kick.
We also went for the tossed Asian salad featuring lots of fresh crunchy vegetables and toasted cashew nuts dressed in a tangy hoisin sauce that gave a lively favour, but very thin.
Three sides – some crunchy tenderstem broccoli lightly seasoned with a zesty lemon oil, some of their famous ivy mashed potato that needed more seasoning, and some melt-in-the-mouth baked sweet potato drizzled with herbs and a harissa yoghurt.
When offered the dessert menu we thought we might burst! So instead we opted for another round of cocktails, this time the slightly less horrifically named diablo verde and clockwork orange, more suited to a fitness-addict, but the clockwork orange was unanimously chosen as the star of the show – a creamy take on an espresso martini with a delicate hint of orange which went down a treat!
If you are looking for an Instagram worthy night of cocktails and dinner to celebrate the spooky season then you will be well catered for at The Ivy Oxford Brasserie.
To book go to https://theivyoxford.com