NB: Review of The Ivy Norwich Brasserie. This post is a collaboration between Roots and Toots and The Ivy: The Ivy Norwich Brasserie provided dinner in exchange for an honest review.
7 Things that Surprised me about The Ivy Norwich Brasserie
1917 to 2018: The century of exceptional food and hospitality that turned a café into a London landmark – and towards the tail end of that century – a flurry of uncontainable excitement across Norwich-based Instagram feeds.
1) It’s Nosy Parker Heaven
I’m quite an inquisitive person by nature, it’s the writer in me I guess or perhaps I’m just plain nosy. Aside from (subtly) peering into other people’s homes as and when I stroll pass, I love to eavesdrop and spy on what other people are eating in restaurants – I wonder whether they’re on a first date or a fifth, in a happy marriage, where they live, who they’ll become. Nosy, I tell you. The Ivy Norwich Brasserie, is great for nosy people like me. It’s stunning central, open-plan dinning room is lined with beautiful little nooks and some booth-style seating, which allows you to see most of the enormous room from wherever you’re seated.
2) The Perfumed Toilets
Now, everyone on Instagram is talking about and photographing the toilets at The Ivy, Norwich, and for good reason. They are stunning, a thing of beauty. (Rest assured, us Norwich folk do have decent loos across our land, it’s not just a shed and a pot in these parts.) But these loos… now they are worth at least a paragraph and a few pics. What these pics don’t show is how blinkin’ amazing they smell. I did of course enquire about the aroma. There were rumours among staff that the scent is from L’Occitane. So there you have it. A perfumed, pampered, place to preen, and far prettier than a pot!
3) “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
As you’d expect, since its opening, The Ivy has brought a certain glamorous edge to London Street in Norwich. Yes the interior is shimmering, its renouned for its food – it is after all the great grand-child of its glamorous grandmother, The Ivy, Covent Garden.
But it’s not just the name, menu and interior that’s made its mark on our cobbled streets – there’s a new atmosphere that’s been brought to our fine city. Generally, most places you frequent in Norwich have a similar sort of feel to it but at The Ivy it feels different. I can only compare it to the same vibe you experience when out in London. For several minutes during our visit, I felt as though I wasn’t in Norfolk anymore. There was definitely a Wizard of Oz moment or two.
4) The Cordon Bleu Veggie
I’ve been battling with veganism vs. vegetarianism since having my little girl. I often struggle to go fully plant-based with so many different tastes in our household – eating out is often my downfall but when I saw The Ivy Norwich Brasserie’s dedicated veggie/vegan menu. Oh boy.
The options included things like Starter: White onion soup: Caramelised onion, truffle mascarpone, crispy sage with Cheddar croutons (£5.50). Mains: Roasted butternut squash with grains: Buckwheat, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate with crumbled bean curd, harissa sauce and coriander dressing (Vegan) £12.75; Chargrilled halloumi with Padrón peppers: Red pepper sauce, toasted fregola, San Marzanino tomatoes, olives and a chilli and mint sauce £13.95.
I opted for a veggie starter and a vegan main and my other half had a veggie starter and fish main.
But first, one of my most favourite subjects – bread. For me, the quality of the bread and butter at a restaurant is an indication of it’s pedigree. This hot-out-of-the-oven Salt Crusted Sourdough bread (£3.95) came wrapped in a flower shaped cloth serviette. It was soft, yet with a firm chewy crust and married with some sea salted butter and a crisp glass of wine – I could have literally eaten bread and butter all night long.
For someone with adventurous tastes, I went for a starter that was simple but very well done – a mozzarella salad. This may sound a touch reserved. Trust me, it wasn’t. Mozzarella di Bufala: San Marzanino tomatoes with Nocellara olives, sourdough croutons, pesto and baby basil. The bread was incredible to mop up all the delightful pesto juices and ripe green olives (sublime – and what all olives should taste like), sweet tomatoes and an excellent grade of buffalo mozzarella.
For main I had the Sweet potato Keralan Curry: Chickpeas, broccoli, coriander and coconut served with rice on the side (Vegan) 16.95. It had a kick to it, which I just loved, and the crispy sweet potato vegetable chips, coconut based curry and fragrant jasmine rice. My only reservation was the rice to curry ratio was slightly out of proportion. (But that was OK, we had bread!)
My other half had the Salmon and smoked haddock fish cake: Crushed pea and herb sauce with a soft poached hen’s egg and baby watercress £13.50, which is reported to be packed with fish, ultra thick and with a crispy coating similar to panko. The poached egg was perfect.
We also opted for some Truffle and Parmasan Thick Cut Chips (£4.50) which didn’t disappoint. Fine savings of cheese and black truffles topped onto really well-made flavoursome chunky chips.
For pudding I had Cappuccino Cake: Warm chocolate cake, milk mousse and coffee sauce (£7.75). The cake was as soft as a cloud and I loved the theatre of the chocolate sauce poured over my plate by our lovely waiter. Best served with an actual cappuccino along side it – I always need coffee with cake and this went particular well together.
And my other half had Blackberry ice cream sundae: Vanilla ice cream with meringue, blackberry mousse, shortbread and a warm blackberry sauce £7.95. He said it was like being a grown-up kid – everything enjoyable about a sundae, only using the best quality ingredients.
5) Art Deco vs. Arts and Crafts
With its signature harlequin stained-glass windows and striking contemporary art collection, I always had The Ivy down as an Art Deco style gaff. Though we were trying to work out whether The Ivy, Norwich’s vibrant wallpaper, ceiling and prints were Art Deco or Arts and Crafts era. We came to the conclusion that the restaurant’s interior is quiet possibly inspired by both. If The Ivy was founded in 1917 and its interior is inspired from its infancy, then it overlaps both movements – and the large vibrant patterned walls and prints, married with the iconic shapes and lines are the perfect marriage of the two eras. Either way, its gorgeous interior will give you lots to talk about.
6) Relaxed Fine Food – an oxymoron?
I expected that The Ivy would have efficient and professional staff but I didn’t envisage the staff to be down to earth and just so genuinely lovely. (That’s Norwich for you folks.) But what a refreshing change – often at decent restaurants there’s sometimes a lofty air to proceedings. I really appreciated the warm, hospitable approach from staff. This of course, instantly puts you at ease and allows you to fully enjoy the exquisite food, stunning surroundings yet with a down to earth atmosphere – isn’t that the perfect combination? That’s what often lets down good restaurants, a lack of warmth. Not here.
7) Mooching like a Movie Star
It’s an exquisite place just to have a drink. Even if you don’t dine at The Ivy Norwich Brasserie, if there’s one thing you must do – dress up in your favourite vintage clobber and either take a Carry Grant-esk escort or a fellow vintage-adorned chum (or else be uber stylist and go alone). Then, order The Ivy Royale*, and sit at the curved edge of the bar with your back facing the street and your gaze facing the stunning bar, dining room and ladies and gents and feast your eyes for some good old fashioned people watching.
* The Ivy Royale flute £10.75: The Ivy’s signature Kir Royale with Briottet rose liqueur,
Plymouth sloe gin & hibiscus, topped with Champagne
Thank you for having us, The Ivy, Norwich Crew!
NB: Review of The Ivy, Norwich. This post is a collaboration between Roots and Toots and The Ivy. The Ivy provided dinner in exchange for an honest review.
About The Ivy, Norwich
The Ivy Grills and Brasseries offer extensive all-day menus featuring the best of modern British dishes in a relaxed dining atmosphere. Each Grill and Brasserie is sophisticated yet approachable, casual yet polished and can be found in carefully selected locations both in London and beyond.
The Ivy Norwich Brasserie
30 London Street,