"Simples, Alexsandr?" In the new Shangri-La Hotel's ground floor foyer, our reservations are checked on two bit...
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
Ivy Market Grill, Covent Garden
The trouble with reviewing London's latest bars, is that they roll of the production line faster than Ford Mustangs did in Detroit's heyday. This inevitably means I spend evenings in places I'd often rather not, speculating what drug the PR was on when penning a press release that bears no relation to reality. Flash-in-the-pan turds such as Senkai Lounge, W1; Blitz, now Barafina in Adelaide Street, and SofaKingCool which, now mercifully departed, nevertheless remains this blog's most visited review...read regularly by masochists in need of a vicarious thrill, I imagine...spring to mind. Post-launch, that I have three times revisited Ivy Market Grill in as many weeks, speaks volumes. Like the original Ivy, here's somewhere that had me from hello. The all-purpose breakfast-to-one-for-the-road retro-fied room is a pitch-perfect pastiche of the sort of vielle école bar-brasserie you'd be lucky to say "Allo, Allo" to on a stop-over in an obscure backwater - Bar-le-Duc, Bourg-en-Bresse or the intriguingly-named Nancy, its boys more gay than Paris itself, par exemple. Unlike France's zincs - too often the domain of Surly, Snappy, Sneery and other similarly disagreeable Sarkozy-esque dwarves - service and presentation here are as polished as the butch bar's elegantly set zinc counter, at whose teal leather stools, afternoon tea at £8.75 (includes pots and pots of finest Ceylon), is a bonny cream scone steal. At around the same cost, house cocktails such as My Fair Lady - Ivy gin, Belle de Brillet, lemon and orange blossom (pictured) - and tin cup-serve Henrietta Maria Treacle are top notch, while classics such as a No 3 gin martini are executed with élan. All-day eats are of the type, post-Euromillions jackpot, my personal Mrs Patmore will rustle up on command: shepherd's pie; crispy duck salad (£7.75); steak, egg and chips; creamed mushrooms on toast; lobster thermidor; tuna carpaccio et al. IMG is VG indeed. If, in 2015, I'm not perma-present within, it's because I'm enduring some shonky Shoxditch scenester saloon in the name of research, dreaming of a civilised supper and cocktails in Covent Garden.
1 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8PS 3301 0200 http://www.theivymarketgrill.com