For Belle, our recent lunch at the new Ivy Clifton Brasserie, Bristol, was less about the food and more about the opportunity to wear her new outfit, bought especially for my sister’s wedding. For me, it was definitely about the food. That, and the chance to look at Belle in her new outfit and sob quietly to myself about my lost youth. (Not that I ever looked like her even when I was 14, but I can dream.)
Here she is, getting in the way of one of my door pictures.
The Ivy Clifton Brasserie opened recently in Bristol, and Belle and I were going along to test it out. We make these sacrifices for you, you see. We went on the day before Belle’s birthday, so that even though we were there as guests, for the purposes of this review, I could make out that it was a fancy birthday treat. (I’m so thoughtful!) Actually, for the record, Belle did have a very fancy treat on her birthday, which I did pay for, all by myself, so I am thoughtful.
We rocked up at the appointed hour, Belle teetering through the beautiful streets of Clifton looking like some sort of glamorous woodland creature, and me wobbling along beside her, feeling about 67 years old. The Ivy Clifton Brasserie is in an old bank, and the building itself is absolutely gorgeous. If you take a trip to the toilet while you’re there, (which I suggest you do – for nosing about purposes as well as to prevent unwanted UTIs), you can see the old door to the vaults. They have decorated it in a wonderfully decadent 1920s style, so you immediately feel like you’re being spoilt, even before you’ve eaten anything. I’m not going to show up my own photos by including any professional ones here, but take a look at the gallery – it’s ace.
(Interesting bank/restaurant fact: when I recently went to Stockholm with Volvo, I apparently had my dinner in what was once the vault where the Norrmalmstorg robbery took place, which is the origin of Stockholm Syndrome. Note: we were not held hostage at any point during our lunch.)
We ordered some pretty looking drinks, and started off with a couple of classic starters – scallops for me and a prawn cocktail for Belle. Both tip top. The service throughout was impeccable too.
‘Don’t drink it yet Belle, I need to tweet a picture!’
The nice thing about doing a food review with Belle is that she totally doesn’t mind if I stop every few minutes to take pictures and put things on Instagram, as she is happy to play on Snapchat at the same time. Fiancé is always really understanding about things like that, but I’m sure it must get annoying for other grown-ups, who’d rather be concentrating on just getting on with eating, and not looking silly in a fancy restaurant, taking a close up picture of a prawn.
‘Could you just turn the prawn around so I can see his face?’
Main courses followed: steak for Belle, and a very yummy vegetarian option for me, (just to test it out), involving polenta, asparagus and truffle. Now, both were lovely, although I always forget that I don’t really like the flavour of truffle, so I didn’t enjoy mine quite as much as a could. This was totally my fault though. I do wonder if the whole concept of truffles might be a conspiracy amongst posh people to test regular people. If you smile and pretend you love them, you fail the test.
I also ordered a side of peas.
This has become a bit of a thing for me, after a particularly delicious side of peas at the Rick Stein restaurant in Cornwall. You know how on the Bake Off, if they make something lame like a Victoria sandwich, they tell them that ‘if you’re doing something simple, you have nothing to hide’? Well, I figure that the side orders are a bit like this – peas are pretty basic, so you have to pay attention. It’s all in the detail.
The peas at The Ivy Clifton Brasserie score a 9.1/10 from me. They were very nicely cooked, and I liked the addition of pea shoots, but they have done with a little mint perhaps? *fussy*
‘Hang on a minute Belle while I take a picture of my peas.’
The highlight of the meal, for Belle at least, (I was pretty keen on my glass of Sauvignon Blanc), was pudding. She ordered a chocolate bombe, which comes as a solid chocolate ball, that has hot caramel sauce poured over the top at your table.
Belle was so taken with it, that she started calling herself the Chocolate Bombe, and immediately started a new Instagram account in that name. Then we had to wait while she put the video on Snapchat. God, and there I was just wanting to get on with my lunch. Some people. You can’t take them anywhere.