Edinburgh's Ivy on the Square serves up glossy and attentive brasserie culture
- Jo Laidlaw
- 12 March 2018
With big name after big name opening, St Andrew Square has become a flashpoint for the city's food and drink offering
The interior of the glossy Ivy on the Square (St Andrew Square, to be exact) riffs pleasingly on a Parisienne/art deco vibe. High ceilings and picture windows blend with metallic accents, marble floors and statement booths with oversized leather sofas, while downstairs the huge bar rightly dominates. The upstairs mezzanine is cosier but still open to the hubbub below – if downstairs is the place to see and be seen, upstairs is the place to see then settle in. There's a huge outdoor terrace (by Edinburgh standards) and the vibe is classic brasserie: bright, buzzy and busy. Staff are attentive, speedy and well-drilled, so first impressions are of a slick, confident operation – as they should be, given that the Ivy Collection (the Ivy on the Square's parent company) has opened around 20 similar venues across the UK in the past couple of years, with more planned for 2018.
Edinburgh's Ivy saw over 10,000 diners pour through the doors in its opening months; a full restaurant, smart service and luxe surrounds doesn't fail to generate an air of happy enjoyment. And there is a lot to like here although the similarity in menus across the Collection and an insistence on central sourcing lends a cookie-cutter air to the whole experience.
Food runs from 8am breakfast via afternoon tea and a weekend brunch through to dinner, where the à la carte is anchored by core 'Ivy classic' items – steak tartare, shepherd's pie and steak, egg and chips. More elegant than the name suggests, this is a juicy, well-flavoured rump steak with thick-cut chips and frilly eggs. Starters feel a little lighter – there's a meltingly tender tuna carpaccio with on-trend ponzu dressing (although avocado puree adds little to the overall flavour) while chunky, meaty wasabi prawns make a good sharer. The dessert menu is compact and it's nigh impossible to look beyond the chocolate bombe once you've seen one being served – a perfect chocolate dome which melts away as the waiter adds hot butterscotch sauce at the table brings a theatrical end point to a competent meal.
+ Life is lush in the Square
- This square could be anywhere