It’s 5 o’clock on a run-of-the-mill drizzly evening in January. My make up is melting off my face. I’m ravenous.
Even the sound of my own bloody breathing is getting on my last nerve after a long-ass day in work, avoiding eye contact with anything of substantial calorific value ahead of some seriously exciting dinner plans that night.
(I couldn’t usually give two hoots about kcals but look, it was January… All of my clothes are too tight and I’m not about to pay a personal trainer £70 a week to go and drop my metaphorical knickers to any biscuit, bar of chocolate or bag of crisps that tries to seduce me. Willpower, people, willpower.)
So, by the time my other half pulls up outside the office 20 minutes later, I’m about ready to drag her out of the vehicle by her lovely shiny hair and knock her down with her own four wheels.
Not because she’s done anything wrong at all – quite the contrary – but just out of sheer, flaming HANGER.
It’s only by the grace of a sugar rush delivered from the solitary Fruitella that I found lurking in the passenger door that she lives to tell the tale of our evening at The Ivy, Manchester*.
(*Yes, it is probably only by the grace of regular restaurant review +1 invites that I get to the tell the tale of being her other half. As my Twitter bio states, you will not like me when I’m hangry and she can sure vouch for my grouch!)
Ivy Asia at The Ivy Restaurant, Manchester, Spinningfields
The Ivy’s organic botanical façade is unsealed by glamourous gold-rimmed doors manned by a duo of charming doormen bedecked in trench coats and flat caps in a stunning shade of Shamrock-green. We stepped over the threshold into a truly beguiling example of interior décor that was antique Art Deco and cool contemporary in equal parts.
As my good friends in the hip hop circles I often frequent might say, this bitch is Bad and Boujee!
As I absorbed my surroundings, my melting make-up, rumbling stomach and aching feet (it had to he heels for The Ivy) suddenly paled into insignificance and I felt like an extra from an extravagant Wes Anderson mise-en-scene. A theme that would continue onto the second of four floors to where the Ivy Asia restaurant resides.
We stepped out of the lift and I couldn’t help but rather rudely glance past the kimono-clad concierge warmly ushering us towards our host to the jade-green floor illuminating the one-storey restaurant. The semi-precious stone flooring cast the perfect intimate hue over the sea of lavish Asian fabrics, gold-gilt ceiling and decadent mirrored bar.
It’s clear to see why The Ivy has quickly become ‘the place to be’ since its opening in November of last year.
The Pan-Asian Ivy Asia menu is inspired by Head Chef, Steve Scoullar’s travels around Vietnam, Cambodia and Tokyo. His worldliness has been perfectly transformed into a well-rounded menu of both small and large dishes, complimented by a comprehensive wine list and selection of cocktails influenced by traditional Asian flavours. More on that last bit in just a moment though.
The menu is split into various segments including For the Table, Tempura, Raw & Cured, Dumplings & Bao Buns, Robata & Mains and the obligatory Sides. We decided to go for something from every slice to get a real taste for what’s on offer here. I had heard extremely mixed reviews of The Ivy food but am pleased to report that we found plenty to celebrate.
Highlights for us were:
Crispy Squid (£8.75) delicately dusted with chilli powder and cooled down with a luxurious Asian Tartare Sauce.
Fresh Yellowfin Tuna Tataki (£8.50) with crunchy avocado crisps.
A sweet, sticky Black Cod Miso (£29.50) which literally fell apart once unrobed from its banana leaf wrap.
The aromatic and tender Duck Massaman Curry (£13.50) stirred with a generous handful of crunchy cashew nuts.
Flamed Edamame (£4.95) with Spicy (really freakin’ spicy) Dip.
The Red Dragon (£8.50) dessert which was a spectacle of dark chocolate brownie chunks, gold almonds, honeycomb, salted caramel shards and an edible spray-painted Chinese dragon.
From the eclectic cocktail menu at The Ivy Asia, I went for a Vanilla Spiced Sour (£5.95) and the Proseccolada (£10.50). The first was a non-alcoholic concoction of Seedlip spice, lemon juice, vanilla and egg white which tasted disturbingly like Listerine mouthwash. The second was a long muddle of rum, coconut cream, black sake, pineapple just and Prosecco and very pleasant indeed.
My partner in dine went for a crisp, chilled Chablis which was expertly recommend by our velvet-clad host who paired her wine with her edible selections. I think it’s this exact type of meticulous attention to detail and lofty level of luxury that really makes The Ivy experience so appealing. True multisensory magic.
I think it’s safe to say this place is going to en vogue for a good while yet and I, for one, cannot wait to return to check out the infamous Ivy Brasserie and Ivy Rooftop bar.
I was very kindly invited to review The Ivy Asia but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.