I’ve grown to love Covent Garden more and more since setting up this blog. Started on a whim nine years ago, eatingcoventgarden.com soon became a passion and a labour of love. I got very upset when some malicious online person deleted the original incarnation but in September 2012 started all over again. Since then I’ve cooked many dishes, enjoyed plenty of restaurant visits and travelled the world. All so I can share my foodie experiences with people from all over the globe.
But obviously I have to keep returning to Covent Garden – it is my blog birthplace after all. So, today we’re heading for the Ivy Market Grill which is in prime position on the Piazza. The original Ivy is also in Covent Garden – just down road – and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been there a few times. It’s somewhere special where you can rub shoulders with your favourite celebrities. I sat on a table next to Jilly Cooper one time – very excited, I’m a big fan. And once nearly went up to talk to Torville and Dean because I recognised their faces and thought perhaps I had been to school with them. Luckily the penny dropped as to who they were before I humiliated myself!
From the original the restaurant now has branches in different guises (grills, brasseries and cafes) all around London. And indeed elsewhere in England, Scotland and Ireland. There are even two new ones opening next month…I feel another visit coming on.
What’s on the menu
I’m loving the new Corona-times Covent Garden. Streets around the piazza have been closed off to traffic and many of the restaurants have set out their tables in the streets. Basically it’s more than doubled the piazza area and there’s a different feel. To me it’s a bit like dining in Spain. Fabulous.
And there are far less people around, too. Not great for the businesses I realise, but I’m loving the more intimate feel. And all that space to wander.
The Ivy Market Grill has a comprehensive menu of deliciousness which I find hard to choose from. I do adore scallops, though, so that wasn’t that tricky to start with. The seared Atlantic scallops came on a bed of smoked cauliflower puree, scattered with capers, lemon, golden raisins and samphire tempura.
Each element added something special – the fishy, tender scallops, smokey cauliflower, salty capers, sweetest of raisins and crispy tempura. Who thought that samphire tempura could be so scrumptious? Put me down for more of that.
As delightful as my scallops were, Terry won the prize for starter of the day. Not that it’s really a competition but this is one spectacular dish. The creamy richness of duck liver parfait topped with the crunch of caramelised hazel nuts, truffle, pear and ginger compote and a lovely chunk of sweet, toasted brioche. Just heavenly.
Deciding on a main is also a challenge…and something of a process of elimination – down to three and then making your choice at the last minute once under the pressure of the waiter. And what a great choice the Keralan monkfish and prawn curry turned out to be. Topped with shaved coconut, coriander and sweet potato crisps the dish was packed with authentic flavours and the prawns and monkfish were beautifully juicy.
I love a steak tartare and in my last minute order confusion decided to revert to an old favourite. A dish that never fails to satisfy – with tender, hand cut raw beef striploin mixed with a tabasco mustard dressing, cornichons and shallots. Topped with an abundance of fresh parsley and a vibrant egg yolk and served with a generous portion of thick cut chips. More heaven on a plate.
Of course you can’t visit Covent Garden without going for a little wander. There are always new sights to see and old ones to rediscover, too. I couldn’t resist a selfie pose with a bit of Love, Hope and Joy in the picture. Covent Garden rocks!
Today’s price point
Our two courses for two cost £58.70.
We also had a lovely bottle of Cotes du Rhone for £35.