You might have noticed the final restaurant opening of 2017 in Cheltenham, there was just a teeny tiny buzz around the opening of The Ivy in Montpellier. And boy was it worth the wait. I was lucky enough to visit 3 times during opening week, so managed to sample lots of the delights on offer, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.
I can’t describe how wonderful this place is inside (you have to see it for yourself). There are staff at the entrance, who send you through a door into the main restaurant, it’s almost like the secret reveal. The main part of the restaurant is lovely, and buzzing with excitement as it’s the first time people are seeing the place. But when you get into the bar area, it’s breathtaking. They’ve transformed the old bank into a beautiful place to dine, (hint: when I go back, I’ll always be requesting a table in the bar when possible!) with a photo-worthy central bar, and of course the stunning ceiling. In a nod to Cheltenham, race-horses line the walls, and if you head into the toilets, there are lovely pictures of jockeys vests.
The staff are plentiful, and seem to be there to aid you with whatever you want. We first went there for afternoon tea (following a disaster train journey from London – I had my Christmas party on the Friday evening, got up at 7am to make it back to Cheltenham for the bloggers brunch at 10am, only to arrive at Paddington to find my train cancelled! So they kindly asked me to come in the following afternoon instead, with D). A lovely waitress from Wales called Beth served us. She was friendly, attentive, clearly knew what she needed to know, but made us feel laid-back and relaxed all the same. Just what I had hoped.
Having visited for Afternoon tea, as well as the champagne and canapés launch party, D and I had booked a table (a few months back) to try out the experience for real on opening night. We had made friends with the restaurant manager – Madara – at the launch party who had assured us that she would give us a wine recommendation on the night. When we arrived she welcomed us back like old friends, and surprised us with a couple of little treats.
We were served in just the way you would expect from a place like this, a few nerves as it was opening night but the staff are genuinely lovely, and want to ensure that you do have a special experience when you go here. We truly felt treated.
I’d spoken to people before about The Ivy, as there’s now a few of them across the UK, and had been told that it was good, but nothing special. I have to say I totally disagree, I absolutely loved it. It’s right up my street I suppose, good, hearty British menu, and I’d been made aware that the Shepherds Pie was one of their famous dishes. Considering I don’t really like lamb, I went ahead and tried it, it was dreamy. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I judge a place by it’s mash – and this was 10/10. Even the bread was perfect! D had a starter of Crispy Duck Salad, followed by the Shoulder of Lamb, of which I couldn’t resist a stolen mouthful (yummy). I saved myself for the pièce de résistance – the Chocolate Bombe. It was incredible, chocolate filled with honeycomb, vanilla ice cream and a salted caramel sauce, not only did it look amazing, but tasted just like a fancy version of a salted caramel magnum – one of my faves!
I can’t talk about this place without mentioning their afternoon tea. It was the best afternoon tea menu I’ve had. Usually, there is at least 1 thing I don’t like from both the sweet and savoury section. This time, I asked them to switch my salmon sandwich, which they did graciously, and gobbled up everything else in sight. There was a brioche with chicken, some sandwiches, chocolate salted caramel mousse, crème brûlée doughnuts and some lovely scones with cream a plenty! If you’re looking for a good afternoon tea in Cheltenham, this should be high on your list.
Price and Rating
Afternoon tea is pretty reasonable at £17.95 (or add on £8 for Champagne Afternoon Tea), main meals come in around £15-£30 (depending of course on whether you’re planning to have steak or lobster!) but I would recommend ordering a side as they’re fairly small portions (although save some room for dessert). And there’s a great set menu which is 2 courses for £16.50 or 3 courses for £21 – this runs 11.30am – 6.30pm which gives you plenty of time for lunch or an early evening meal if you want to try it out at a lower cost.
It’s certain that this place is in one of the most beautiful venues in Cheltenham, and it’s worth a visit just for that. But the whole experience is one to be enjoyed, somewhere I hope to frequent often, definitely for those special occasions.
Next on the menu for me (excuse the pun) is to get down there and try out some brunch!