The Ivy Brasserie, Norwich
Buzzing with happy energy (me and the Ivy), I couldn't wait to review the hottest eatery in town. Will it live up to its Insta reputation? Of course it did, it's gorgeous!
The Ivy’s reputation preceeds itself and for years we’ve seen celebrities being papped outside the original Ivy restaurant in London.
It’s this glamour we associate with the Ivy brand that has helped fuel the frenzied excitement surrounding the Norwich Brasserie opening (and that we’ve finally joined the cool gang).
Now it’s here, Instagram is awash with pictures of the famous Ivy Brasserie interiors and champagne bar. I’m guilty too, it’s just soooo instagram’able – packed with lovely pop art prints and shiny things, even the toilets are amazing. But it was time to put my Muddy review hat on and see if it lives up to it’s reputation.
Be gone Gap and hello the lovely Ivy Brasserie and what a reincarnation!
On the pedestrianised corner of London St and Castle St, in the old London and Provincial Bank building they couldn’t have picked a more stately home. Close to all the lovely independent shops on The Lanes and 5 minute walk from the bars on Tombland and St Benedict’s, it’s perfect for lunch dates, evening dining and early cocktails!
We opted for lunch on this occasion in the vain hope that I wouldn’t eat so much – mmmm wrong venue to be trying that little experiment!
Very lively and buzzy. A really cool space with an elegant, curved champagne bar at the front, moving to a mix of leather sofa and velvet-chaired seating throughout.
The large downstairs space is separated into two main areas. The front is much lighter (possibly due to the light reflecting off the gazillion champagne flutes hanging over the bar!) with a more informal and relaxed feel. Good for casual lunch dates, working lunches and if you dare, family dining. I’m not saying it’s not child friendly (I did see a buggy), it’s just I’d rather enjoy the sumptuous splendour sans the darling muddlings!
The lighting changes towards the back of the Brasserie to create a more intimate atmosphere. We went on a weekday lunchtime and I was interested to see a whole spectrum of ages dining – this isn’t just for the hip crowd.
High ceilings and a very busy lunch time service made it quite noisy. This added to the fun vibe for me and after all, this is a brasserie not fine dining. If you’re looking for something a little more intimate I’d perhaps request a table upstairs in the smaller and more private dining space.
Colourful artwork on the walls feels really vibrant, deco-ish and gives character and depth. If you look closely, there’s a local theme to a lot of it too which is a nice touch. The sides are decked with large decorative flower urns and vintage mirrors – it’s definitely a slick, glamorous vibe they’re going for and I think they’ve hit it.
The Scoff & Quoff
I was running late and a little stressed due to a new Subway opening bringing traffic to a stand still. I must have looked like a mad woman as I was waving and shouting “I’m late for the Ivy!”
I ordered my starter remotely, which actually wasn’t a bad thing as the Ivy menu is packed with yummy options and I would have been agonising over food combinations for hours. Mr O took full advantage of the situation, gave me the edited highlights over the phone and I went for the crispy duck salad. Good choice – it was very tasty, lots of lovely subtle flavours and beautifully presented.
Mr O had the wasabi prawns with salt and pepper squid which was really light and crispy. There’s always a bit of Russian roulette when ordering calamari and one can so easily be disappointed with heavy, greasy batter. Not on this occasion, it had a wonderful spicy kick!
For mains, I opted for their signature Chicken Milanese with a side of tenderstem broccoli, lemon oil and sea salt. The egg was perfectly runny, just the right amount of truffle shavings not to overpower the chicken and the broccoli al dente!
Mr O’s fishcake was huge and packed with chunky bits of fish, none of this potato and one prawn malarky! We ordered some zucchini fries on the side (not necessary as the portion sizes were more than adequate) but they were salty and delicious and not at all healthy – don’t be fooled by the zucchini part!
The piéce de resistance for me was the chocolate bombe dessert. In fact ladies, if you’re feeling decadent, I’d suggest a break in shopping and popping in simply for a glass of champagne and a chocolate bombe – the perfect afternoon treat.
I love a bit of food theatrics and was so mesmerised by the pouring of hot salted caramel sauce I completely forgot to take the money shot so apologies for the stock image but mine didn’t look quite as enticing! Definitely the wrong decision to share this dessert, spoon war ensued as we fought over the rich chocolate, ice-cream and honeycomb!
Out and About
Bang in the city centre, the Ivy Brasserie is perfectly located for all the shops. Hours can be spent wandering around The Lanes, Market and Malls.
The Castle Museum, Theatre Royal, Norwich Playhouse, Maddermarket and Cinema City are all within walking distance.
You can easily build a day around a trip to the Ivy, check out the What’s On Guide to help plan your trip!
Good for: Grown ups wanting a fun and buzzy environment that doesn’t cost the earth.
Not for: Super-foodies who’d rather have space, time and relative quiet to pore over the finer details of a meal.
The damage: Surprisingly reasonable. Most entrees £7-10, mains are around the £14-16 mark, desserts £6-8. My crispy duck salad was £7.95, and the Chicken Milanese £15.95.