There’s a heavy sense of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ about the The Ivy Café in Wimbledon Village. There, I’ve said it. Surely blasphemy about such a prestigious offshoot, and a place that has been fully booked up for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and evening sittings ever since it opened. Sage-coloured woodwork frames, aged mirrors, wildflower prints and real-life flora set the scene, while impeccably straight-backed waiting staff glide by. There’s the excited chatter, air kisses and clinking of wine and champagne glasses you’d come to expect, too. So what’s wrong? Well, I’ll tell you – the food.
It all started fine – mozzarella so creamy and fresh it struggled to keep its shape among asparagus, edamame and pesto – but my companion’s tomato, feta and watermelon salad was so cold I can only imagine it had spent quite some time in a fridge. The mains continued the descent: fish pie was bland beyond compare, even if the dish was full to the brim, while fish and chips turned out to be two lightly battered, thin fillets of cod so small they could both fit in the palm of one hand. The accompanying chips were the worst I’ve ever had – anywhere. It seemed like they’d been cooked a few hours before and then reheated so quickly they lost any warmth, and they were embarrassingly dry. The punters will keep coming, of course, but if the cooking doesn’t change it will only be a matter of time until you won’t have to book a table.