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The Ivy Cafe, Marylebone, classy bistro

So after an exhausting 10 minutes joining the Third Space Gym in Marylebone my lovely wife and I decided to go for a spot of lunch. Back in our hip days we used to often go to the Union Cafe that was on the site of the Ivy Cafe. It was OK, decent food enlivened by a very well-priced wine list. What strikes you on entering the Ivy Cafe is quite what a face lift this site has had. Gone is the open kitchen to create a bigger dining room, the bar has been re-modelled to create a fantastic curved counter that you can dine at. I know it all clever building work but it feels like the place has been going for years instead of weeks. At 12:30 on Thursday the room is 3/4 full and lively fortunately they have a walk in table for us. Tables are very close together so you do get to meet your fellow diners but such is the hubbub in the café that its noise provides you a modicum of privacy. I'm driving later on so no chance to work through the wine list so the food is going to have to star alone.

The menu is relatively simple with a selection of gastro staples which the Ivy helped create back in the 90's. I go for steak and eggs whilst my lovely wife has the chicken salad. We also feel compelled to order a side of zucchini fries after spotting our neighbours devouring theirs. The food is really very good, simple yes but cooked with care and with attention to detail. My steak may be a flattened piece of rump but it is perfectly cooked and tender. The fried eggs are full of flavour and the chips are crisp and salty. My only complaint is the frankly daft dish they are served in. Call me old fashioned but a flat plate is always going to edge out a deep narrow dish especially when cutting up steak. My lovely wife's chicken salad is lovely, good quality tasty chicken and a well-dressed salad. The zucchini fries are a triumph. All it needed was a glass of wine for nirvana to be attained.

Service is polished and most importantly friendly which makes a change from the Corbin & King places like the Beaumont and Delaunay which do similarly good food minus the charm. Our fun waitress is almost offended we can't manage desserts but we do relent to order a coffee. This turns out to be my best decision all week as what turns up is a delicious rich pot of great coffee and cream on the side. So many ‘good' restaurants can't make a decent filter coffee. This is a great finish to a lovely meal. The bill for two comes to a perfectly reasonable £48.60 for two. This is a lovely lively spot, perfect for all sorts of assignations. I never “Ivy-ed” before but if the rest of the group are up to the standard of their charming cafe in Marylebone I shall give them a spin.

Monday, February 08, 2016
Overall rating
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 8

We have been back here a few times and baby G is a fan. They don't have a kids menu but they will do a kids portion of most of their items. Service is much warmer in here than the Corbin & King places. 

Chai Ki, Canary Wharf

Zelman Meats, Soho, excellent