One wet morning in Birmingham, I was on my way to the office when a young woman in a floral dress handed me a bunch of tulips. Now, you might be surprised to hear this, but I don't get given flowers very often by passing strangers, but alas, she wasn't a secret admirer, she was letting me know that reservations for Birmingham's newest eatery, The Ivy (yes, that one!) were now available.
As a lover of good food and drink, I made a reservation for opening day, which happened to be our first full day back in the UK after our Shanghai holiday. It seemed fitting, let's ease ourselves back into the day-to-day with one more luxurious offering.
We almost didn't go when the day came around about six weeks later. The nine hour time difference was still paying havok with our internal body clocks and our drive back from London Heathrow had not been without a few missed exits meaning we were a tad delayed getting home.
Walking through the door (past the office execs almost trying to bribe staff for reservations), my breath was taken away at the decor. The Ivy Temple Row is housed in the financial area of the city, nestled between big banking firms' offices, in the former home of Louis Vuitton. However, the premises was no longer recognisable.
The design team for The Ivy have gone with a beautiful bright colour scheme; clashing bright orange and moss green with accents of brass and gold on the picture frames with fill the walls. The pictures themselves are a mix of art deco prints of martini glasses and other imagery which suggest fine dining displayed next too traditional images highlighting important sites and areas of the UK's second city. Whilst their main aim was to tantalise your tastebuds, they'd made sure your eyes were treated too.
The next joy to behold was the service. Our waitress was friendly and very knowledgable as she answered all of our questions about opening day and the training she'd received on a menu. All staff, dietry requirements permitting, had tried every item on the menu, including all of the cocktails and alcohol selection over a three week training period. The highlight was the two days they spent sampling the extensive wine selection from 9am to 5pm! It was eight hours well-spent as her wine and cocktail recommendations were perfectly matched with the courses, even when I doubted some of her choices (a sweet Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc?)
On to the main event - the food! There was a wide selection of nibbles, starters and main courses (and desserts, although we couldn't manage that!) As a lover of fish, I was particularly happy as there were plenty of choice there. The only slight negative is that the previous evening had been a press preview event and, although our visit was on opening day, the kitchen had not seen the demand for certain items; for example, David was out of luck trying to get a main course with lobster, and a signature cocktail which included candy floss syrup was not available for me either.
Particular standouts included stake tartare and tuna served with a wasabi mousse. All of the mixed drinks we tried were excellently mixed and the service was swift and friendly with the servers really knowing their stuff and enjoying sharing recommendations.
On the price side, The Ivy had clearly understood their market, and whilst not in anyway a 'cheap' meal, it certainly wasn't unaffordable either. Starters, main and sides with three cocktails / or glasses of wine each was around £150 - £160 for the two of us.
We'll certainly be back. The only question is when after our waitress told us that since reservations opened in March more than 30,000 reservations (three months worth!) have been made already. The Ivy's new offering in Birmingham is certainly off to a brilliant, and well deserved, start!
You're able to snag a reservation (see you in August!) and find out more about the place and their menu by visiting: https://theivybirmingham.com/.
Have you been to The Ivy Temple Row yet? What did you think? Is there anything on the menu that's a must have in your eyes (or mouth!)? Let us know more in the comments.