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The Ivy Market Grill

Restaurants Covent Garden
Ivy Cafe Market Grill (© Paul Winch-Furness)
© Paul Winch-Furness

Time Out says

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A sister venue to The Ivy, this new Covent Garden restaurant is located on the piazza. Afternoon teas are available as well as an all-day menu.

That’s right, a branch of that most inimitable restaurant, The Ivy. The time has come at last for the current owners to cash in on one of London’s most recognisable and exclusive brands, and roll it out.

Yet this is hardly an Ivy sellout – it’s no McIvy Burger, Pret-a-Shepherd’s-Pie, or Hard Ivy Rock T-shirt of Posh and Becks tucking into rhubarb cheesecake. It’s all done in the best possible taste. But rather than being discreetly located in a Covent Garden sidestreet lined with paparazzi, this one’s bang on Covent Garden Piazza – where no ordinary Londoners, never mind A-list celebs, ever set foot.

The interior’s lovely, in a classy, bourgeois brasserie, my-family-own-Dorset sort of way. The service is, for the most part, better polished than a Bentley hub cap. And the menu’s a good read, with a pleasingly retro Continental feel to the dishes, but using mainly British ingredients.

Much research has been done by psychologists on how setting affects our appreciation of a meal: get the look and circumstances right, and school dinners taste great. Take away the white linen, silver bowls and embossed plates, and the wow factor is reduced. A prawn cocktail looked pretty, but the shellfish were merely okay. Shepherd’s pie was rich in butter, but otherwise ordinary. A fried fish sandwich didn’t really work, as the toasted bread failed to envelop the contents; butties are better untoasted. A chocolate bombe was a shell that melted on having hot caramel sauce poured over it; the result was a congealing mess. Baked Alaska also suffered from global warming, the lemon ice cream interior simply too molten. If you’re looking for a culinary superstar, go elsewhere.

Yet we liked Market Grill, and its please-all approach; it serves breakfast, afternoon tea and all-day snacks, and has a good children’s menu. We’ll return for the late opening, striking good looks and dialled-in service.

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Details

Address: 1a Henrietta Street
London
WC2E 8PS
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden
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