#CocoKithcen : The Ivy, Leeds

We all emerged from pandemic lockdown different people. [...]

We all emerged from pandemic lockdown different people. We went into it with a hankering for some great food and cocktails, and we have come out slightly less hungry, but thirstier than ever before. We went along to The Ivy in Leeds to check out the ‘new normal’ post-pandemic dining experience in style.

Spoiler alert: dining out post-pandemic is 95% the same as it was before. Now, you can expect the tables to be further away, cashless payments, encouraged pre-bookings, more stringent cleaning. Erm, hello, aren’t these all great things? The Ivy, doing nothing by halves, have taken your personal safety and hygiene to the next level and have provided branded bottles of gorgeous hand sanitiser at the table.

Anyone who’s visited an Ivy Brasserie before (there are 33 of them now just in England alone, plus another four across Ireland, Scotland and Wales) will know that the menu is vast, and something certain from your visit is that at one point, you will be absolutely spoiled for choice.

If, by some miracle, you haven’t melted during the heatwave, you’ll be super glad to know that The Ivy have launched their summer menu, with dishes like quinoa and watermelon salad, or blackened cod fillet. But fear not, nobody is stopping you tucking into a shepherd’s pie in 33-degree heat should you so wish.

Thrifty foodies will be very happy to know that The Ivy is taking part in Eat Out to Help Out scheme with a new bespoke set menu from Monday to Wednesday in August, saving a tenner on a two-course menu that would usually be £30, or three courses at £35 (pre-discount). Nice one, Rishi!

This new set-menu narrows down the options to three choices per course, but is somehow still just as difficult to choose as before. To start, choose between yellowfin tuna carpaccio with jalapeño and avocado sauce, crispy five-spice duck salad, or a stunning mozzarella with grapes, mint and hazelnuts. Tough right? And that’s before you get to the mains of a roasted beef filet drizzled in truffle sauce, lobster and tomato linguine, or grilled sea bass fillet with smoked aubergine. It’s like choosing a favourite child and we don’t even have kids.

To finish on a very high note, there’s a frozen berry and sorbet selection pitted against a baked apple tart with ice cream, but the third contender makes this an unfair fight. You guessed it, it’s the chocolate bombe. Get your Insta-stories at the ready for this culinary cabaret!

Between the lobster linguine and the chocolate bombe, washed down with a very carefully selected wine, it’s the same Ivy we have grown to love. There are some very small differences of course. When you arrive, pass no further than the floral entrance archway and you’ll be temperature-scanned. But we say, better they scan us on the way in than the way out, four months of lockdown and it doesn’t take much wine to fire us up.

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Laura Bartlett
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