The Ivy is one of the most-anticipated arrivals in Manchester. And with 535 covers over four floors, it’s the UK’s biggest restaurant opening this year.
The new Spinningfields arrival opens its doors on 27th November, but we went for a sneak peek inside – and tried the afternoon tea while we were there, because who can turn down warm scones and chilled champagne?
First impressions: it’s a stunner. The entrance is all gleaming gold and shiny marble, with a gilded ceiling and mirrored walls covered with beautiful, colourful pictures of flowers and plants.
Through the doors is the bar, an Art Deco style island topped with shimmering onyx, the polished glassware reflecting light from the pretty gold lamps. It’s achingly glamorous, like stepping into another age.
Beyond the bar is the traditional Ivy brasserie, with seating for 186 guests. It’s a bright space with colourful upholstery, dark leather banquettes, plump cushions and crisp white table cloths.
The brasserie will serve modern British classics, and is open all day seven days a week. Breakfast options, served from 8am-11.30am during the week (9am-11am at weekends), include a full English (£13.50; veggie version £12.50), as well as Eggs Benedict with pulled honey roast ham (£8.50), whole kipper with parsley butter (8.50), and toasted crumpets (£3.25).
A weekend brunch menu, served from 11am at weekends, includes the likes of oak smoked salmon and rye bread (£9.95) or steak tartare (£9.25), followed by Eggs Royale and chips (£12.25), chicken milanese with truffle cream sauce (£15.95) or the famous The Ivy shepherd’s pie (£13.95) – slow-braised lamb shoulder with beef and Wookey Hole Cheddar potato mash.
The last two dishes also appear on the all-day a la carte menu, served from 11.30am, alongside truffled orzo pasta (£7.50), crab linguine (£15.95) and blackened cod fillet baked in a banana leaf with a soy and sesame marinade, citrus-pickled fennel, grilled broccoli, chilli and yuzu mayonnaise (£16.95). There’s a separate vegetarian and vegan menu.
On the first floor is a private dining room, The Dalton Room, accommodating parties of up to twenty seated guests.
The private room will be available to book seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as standing receptions, and offers floor to ceiling glass walls with views across Spinningfields. It has its own private bar, and a beautifully ornate ceiling.
The second floor will be the first ever “The Ivy Asia” – a glamourous bar and restaurant exclusive to Manchester, so you won’t find it at any other branches.
This floor will serve Asian-inspired cocktails alongside dishes such as Wagyu beef with truffle sauce, salmon fillet teriyaki, and avocado, crispy tofu, lime and ginger dressing inspired by senior head chef Steve Scoullar’s travels across Asia.
This floor was still being finished on our visit, but they tell us the entire floor will be illuminated with a show-stopping green, semi-precious stone floor, set against a striking antique gold mirrored bar, gold-gilt ceiling and luxurious Asian fabrics.
The top floor is home to a beautiful roof garden, with a fully retractable roof, open all year round. It’s an elegant space with plenty of greenery and foliage, roaring fire pits and colourful fabrics.
We headed up to try the afternoon tea. It’s a classic afternoon tea, served between 3pm and 5pm daily, priced at £18.95 with a choice of teas or coffees (or £26.50 with champagne).
It’s served in tiers, starting with the savouries: truffled chicken brioche roll, rich with heady truffle aromas; refreshing marinated cucumber and dill finger sandwich; and excellent oak smoked salmon with with cream cheese and chives on dark rye bread.
The sweet tiers include warm fruited scones with rich Dorset clotted cream and strawberry preserve; creamy raspberry cheesecake; chocolate and salted caramel mousse; and delicious mini crème brûlée doughnuts topped with a crisp sugary shell.
The wine list includes plenty of sparkling options, ranging from a £6.50 glass of prosecco up to a £230 bottle of Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, with wines including plenty by the glass and starting from £19.75 a bottle.
Beers include their own Ivy craft lager (£4.75) as well as a couple of local brews such as Cloudwater and Hindsight Brewing Co India pale lager. Cocktails start at £8 for a salted caramel espresso martini.
“We can’t wait to showcase our different floors, dining concepts and offerings,” says Baton Berisha, director of operations for The Ivy Collection.
“There’ll be something for everyone, and we hope to bring something new to the city.”
And from our first impressions, it really does. Glamorous, colourful and breathtakingly beautiful, it’s a little taste of luxury.