It’s been a few weeks since I visited The Ivy Oxford Brasserie, the glistening new addition to Oxford’s High Street. I’d have written this sooner, but I’ve been fighting off a bunch of migraines. Not – I hasten to say – because of the visit to The Ivy, although that did come with a timing-related headache of its own. But we’re here now, and hopefully, it’s worth the wait!
Arriving on a Tuesday lunchtime, the place was comfortably filling up with an eclectic mix of diners. The restaurant is stunning – all botanical prints, burnt orange leather, and art deco-esque mirrors and golds. We took our seats in large windows looking out onto the High Street, sensibly part-frosted to avoid that ‘goldfish bowl’ feeling, while still being able to watch Oxford drift by.
Celebration vibes aplenty, we ordered ourselves a passionfruit bellini each (£9), along with fresh bread and truffle arancini (£4.25 & £5.95 respectively) to nibble on while we browsed the menus.
Food, food, food!
The menus read like a good International restaurant you’d find within a five-star hotel, with a crossover of cuisines interlaced with the modern and traditional. It can be hard to please everyone, but, as long as the kitchen can execute the food well, this makes The Ivy Oxford Brasserie an easy one to take large groups of people to.
Starters on the à la carte menu range from £6.25 (soup) to £12.95 (a lobster risotto), and mains £13.25 (roast butternut squash with grains) to £31.95 (a 12oz dry-aged ribeye steak on the bone), so it’s not the cheapest, but it’s not the most expensive either. The restaurant also offers afternoon tea, which I’ll definitely be back to try in the new year – cream tea costs £7.95 per person, traditional is £19.75pp and champagne afternoon tea is £28.50pp.
I am an absolute sucker for a crispy duck salad, so it was an easy choice for my starter at £8.75. My dining buddies Julia and Jane ordered truffled wild mushrooms with potato rosti and fried quail’s egg (£7.95) and Laverstoke Park Farm buffalo mozzarella with crispy artichokes, pear and truffle honey (£8.95).
Once we’d happily caught up over cocktails and nibbles, we’d glanced at watches and realised the starters were taking a while. After a couple more glances, we had to give a little nudge.
The duck came with a five spice dressing, toasted cashews, watermelon, beansprouts, sesame seeds, coriander and ginger; and was exactly how I like it. Plenty of duck, plenty of dressing, and plenty of crispiness. Full of that sweet, sticky, umami flavour that accompanies a dish like this.
* drools over keyboard *
The rosti with truffled mushrooms was a vision of silky, creamy mushrooms; heavily speckled with truffle shavings and topped with an infinitely crispy rosti. Quail egg and micro herbs topped it all off for a very impressive starter.
The trio of starters was complete with a plate of buffalo mozzarella, luscious and creamy with the sweetness of honey, contrasted by crisp artichoke and pear slithers. No complaints on the food front so far.
Mains were almost equally successful…
…with the roast butternut squash with grains, sadly, underwhelming. Overly grain-heavy, it fell short on excitement levels – pomegranate seeds, feta and coriander dressing not quite perking it up.
Jane’s order of the classic Ivy Brasserie salmon and smoked haddock fishcake (£13.95) hit all the right fishcake notes – plump with plenty of filling and crispy outside, topped with an expertly poached egg. To be honest, though, I was barely paying attention to the other plates because I was more than happy with my own.
My blackened cod fillet (£17.95) had been baked in a banana leaf with a soy and sesame marinade, then served with citrus-pickled fennel, grilled broccoli, chilli and yuzu mayonnaise – absolutely stunning. The fish was deeply caramelised on the edges, but flaked beautifully when pressed; broccoli was nicely charred, retaining some bite; and the yuzu dressing and wedge of lime brought a wonderful citrus mix to balance out the sweetness of the glaze. I’d eat this all over again, multiple times.
Oh, and did I mention the chips? 👇 Truffle and parmesan chips (£4.75) were a must-have that didn’t disappoint. Properly golden and crispy (take note all you restaurants serving pale, flaccid chips!), with bags of flavour.
And for dessert…? Oh.
We were running so late by this point I needed a taxi to get to the school run on time. So no time for pud. If I’m feeling generous, I’d say it’s the type of venue to enjoy at a leisurely pace. However, I do hate when you’re checking your watch wondering when your food will arrive. I’ll cut it some slack though, as the restaurant was still in its infancy at the time.
Staff were wonderfully accommodating and obliging and, as I may have already said, the place is absolutely stunning. It only gets better the further you explore. The private dining room and bar upstairs is opulent with yet more botanicals and gold.
And the loos, check out these loos!! More gold, more botanicals, huge lit mirrors, velvet stools… You just know loads of selfies are going to be taken here.
So there we have it, The Ivy has finally arrived in Oxford, and it’s arrived in style. I would return, with plenty of time to enjoy it. It’s a handy addition to the often sparse choice of celebration venues in Oxford, and I see it as the type of place many would enjoy.
Let me know if you’ve been or age going, and what you think of it!
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday: 8:00am – 12:00am, Friday: 8:00am – 1:00am, Saturday: 9:00am – 1:00am, Sunday and Bank Holidays: 9:00am – 12:00am
We dined as guests of The Ivy Oxford Brasserie, all views remain our own.