The Ivy On The Square


IF ANY OF the celebarazzi are here this evening I can’t spot them amongst the ?eecy zippers, sti? upper layers and general dog-gone ordinariness of my fellow diners.

There are a couple of out-of-towners in Ralph Lauren blazers and tan slacks at the table beside me wondering out loud if they could eat a whole 340g steak, (no, seriously) and over there against the picture window clear signs of signi?cant male grooming. But that’s it.

The Ivy in Edinburgh, as yet, does not seem to have attracted the glamorous there-to-be-seens in the same way as its famous London parent always has.

Yet as I tip a small silver jug and send another wave of rich red wine jus over my crisply topped shepherd’s pie, dip a fork through its creamy mash and into the perfectly seasoned meatiness below, and consider whether to go completely mad and add Lea & Perrins from that bottle brought to my table, I realise it de?nitely has something.

A bish, a bash, a buzz.

Languid loungers occupy those high chairs at the bar, drink cocktails and even eat alone.

A young man in black Converse trainers artfully holds a novel before him, appearing completely immune to the hubbub around – dashing two ?ngers perhaps at the Tinder-obsessed world or executing a cunning new plan.

Sta? in full-fat dinner suits glide here and there as though we are in the last outpost of Empire. And at that front door, in virtual open air, a smiling greeter stands behind a lectern with sta? in attendance like coiled springs, ready to take diners to their tables. Very London.

Now, out of mere curiosity I will order the blackberry sundae to ?nish tonight and recoil at the school dinnerish star?sh of spreading purple gloop atop it. Then dig down through honeycomb and ice-cream and end up deciding its not-too sweet and pleasing textures make it possibly one of the best desserts I have had for a good while.

Not that it is all good here by any means. A staggeringly large portion of zucchini fritti from the all-day menu arrived earlier, all deep fried crispness and vibrant green promise.

It turned out to be an unseasoned greasy mess with many of the crisp bits un?lled and many more oozing like pancake batter. Not even the cool wooden tongs that came with it could save the day.

Funnily enough my cousin’s wife Maria made something strikingly similar for us in Italy a month or two ago. It was sensationally good, largely because the little zucchini strips had been soaked deliciously in salt and vinegar before ?ouring and frying.

I can’t say I am hugely impressed tonight by the wasabi prawns with salt and pepper squid that I had to start. It’s the sort of cosmopolitan vibe dish that has raised eyebrows – largely positively – at the newly refurbished London Ivy. Crikey, what would Sir Laurence Olivier, or Vivien Leigh think?

They might, like me, think there was a hint of wasabi throughout, but a dry over-crispness to everything, and the prawns had the look and texture of one of those highly processed Iceland party packs that are always on the telly. Disappointing, especially in this setting.

And I do like this setting. Yes, there are unnecessary chintzy cushions scattered about the pink banquettes, crisp white linen that’s easily marked with wasabi sauce dollops by sloppy diners. But there’s also a 1950s movie-tone feel to the place coming from those warm yellow ceiling lights and candles on every table.

The service has been relaxed, alert, fast o? the mark, a wry smile from the waitress as I handed back untouched zucchini and not a single moment of upselling.

I’ll remember then the shepherd’s pie with its braised lamb shoulder and Mull Cheddar mash. I’ll remember the reasonable prices. I’ll remember the atmosphere. This may be a mere celebrity-less copy of the Ivy, in a far ?ung outpost, but some things were good.

The Ivy On The Square

St Andrews Square


0131 526 4777

Menu: A kilted clone of the very famous London Ivy in the heart of Edinburgh with shepherd’s pie, blackberry sundaes and other capital-inspired brasserie food. 3/5

Atmosphere: OK, there’s no movie stars, or even history, but it does have a buzz and a gentle glow that is very comfortable. 5/5

Service: A greeter at a lectern at the door, polite, relaxed and besuited sta? on the ?oor, old world sta?ng levels pay o?. Very good. 5/5

Price: They’ve wisely resisted the temptation to cash in on the name and it’s relatively reasonably priced for Edinburgh. Shepherd’s pie £13.50, sundae £7.95, zucchine £5.75 4/5

Food: That shepherd’s Pie was excellent, the sundae too, the prawns and the zucchini were however complete culinary car crashes. Worth a try though. 6/10