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Different league; Super-stylish surroundings and fancy food justify newbie'hype.

Byline: Burnside

The Ivy's launch in Glasgow has been pretty hard to miss. Antisocial media types who have missed endless bloggers attending preview brunches will have tripped over a plant-covered promotional bus on Buchanan Street and wondered if a garden centre was opening in the city's main shopping area.

There is much at stake.

The Ivy began life in London's theatreland as a louche late-night hideaway, welcoming stars for late after-show suppers. It has evolved into a super upmarket chain. This summer the Edinburgh branch, in St Andrew Square, was joined by the Buchanan Street newcomer.

An eye-burning amount of money has been spent converting a grand red standstone building society into two floors of fancy eating and drinking. To great effect - it is gorgeous.

Minimalists may want to take their champagne afternoon tea elsewhere but this is more-is-more done well.

Plants, prints, tiles, gleaming brass, OTT wallpaper are all present and correct - and work together.

It was the first choice of a sweet generous couple (SGC) who paid good money at a charity auction to eat dinner with me. None of the other places I suggested got a look in.

Them and half of the city. As I arrived, early on a damp Tuesday evening, a large party without a booking was turned away.

The best seats are upstairs, where the view is of trees and buildings rather than shoppers trailing past.

The menu is long and nods to the restaurant's roots as a cosy bistro while including modern developments and crowdpleasing perennials. Should your party include a jackfruit-eating vegan and a stick-in-the-mud burger da, the Ivy will look after both. Mrs SGC's heart leapt at the lobster and samphire risotto. This is the kind of sumptuous but simple dish that tests a kitchen. There are only a handful of ingredients. They all have to be top-notch, in the right proportions and cooked long enough to give the rice the correct texture but not so long that the crustacean shrivels into rubber.

The test was passed. It was lush.

Mr SGC and I both fell for the watermelon, tomato and feta salad. It was the prettiest version of this Turkish standard I've ever eaten, the fruit and cheese arranged in a disc and dotted with edible flowers and pistachios. Unlike many dishes adorned with tiny pansies that have passed under my reviewing nose, this one was delightful. It had all the pleasures of the rustic original, but refined to suit its bougie surroundings.

Steak tartare - basically raw hamburger topped with a raw egg - is exactly the kind of dish I imagine dissolute luvvies eating between the matinee and the evening show. Like the risotto, there is almost infinite room for going wrong. Also like the risotto, it was tremendous.

It came on a wooden board, encased in a perspex box, with a smoking chunk of charcoal beside the meat. This was a nod to the Laphroig barrel used to smoke the beef. This would all have annoyed me enormously if it had not been so well done. The only cooked element - fat chips - were splendid, salty and crisp.

Mrs SGC'S chicken Milanese dates from the same era, when a thin, beaten chicken breast fried in bread crumbs was the height of sophistication. It has aged well, tweaked with brioche crumbs and a sweet tomato and parmesan salad.

Her husband's sea bass with smoked aubergine, from a short specials menu, was less of a period piece. The fish was the base for Bill for three: PS174.71 tomato, black olives and basil leaves. It was not too far from a smart sea bass pizza.

After the bird-festooned ladies' lavvies, the most Instagrammed feature of the Glasgow Ivy is the melting bombe. Have you even been there if a young person in a white apron and bow tie has not poured a jug of hot caramel sauce over a chocolate dome while everyone at the table films it on their phone? Mrs SGC confirmed it is worth the hype.

My pistachio and raspberry sundae lacked the wow factor but contained two of my favourite ingredients. The flavours were on point but both ice creams were softer than I would have liked.

Mr SGC's cheeseboard was also less than thrilling, presented with no explanations and none of the visual flourish of the rest of the meal. These last two were disappointing but not disastrous.

On the whole, this Ivy plays to its strengths - looking gorgeous, putting on a great show, making a fuss of guests, producing feelgood food everybody likes. It was a really enjoyable occasion and every city needs a restaurant that can reliably deliver that.

Anna's Hot Plate leaders' table . HAAR 23/30 127 North Street, St Andrews KY16 9AG . THE IVY 22/30 106 Buchannan Street, Glasgow G1 2NB. The bo nnie badge r 22/30 Main Street, Gullane EH31 2AB . Crossbas ket Castle 22/30 Stoneymeadow Road, Blantyre G72 9UE .HONEYCOMB & Co 22/30 1 Merchiston Place, Edinburgh EH10 4NP ?LE PETIT COCHON 22/30 ?9 Radnor Street, Glasgow G3 7UA .Numbe r 16 22/30 16 Byres Road, Glasgow G11 5JY .THE IVY 22/30 106 Buchanan Street Glasgow G1 2NB .San VInce nzo 22/30 29-35 Main Street, Bothwell G71 8RD .the north po rt 21/30 8 North Port, Perth PH1 5LU .the loo kout 21/30 38 Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH7 5AA .Nic k's 20/30 168 Hyndland Road, Glasgow, G12 9HZ .BOROUGH 20/30 50-54 Henderson Street, Edinburgh EH6 6DE .Cafe st range brew 20/30 1082 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow G41 3XAZ .errol 's hot pi zza shop 20/30 379 Victoria Road, Glasgow G42 8RZ .green gates 20/30 2 Queen Street, Stirling FK8 1HN .The Landsdowne 20/30 7a Landsdowne Crescent G20 6NQ .Jac ques 19/30 1146 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8TE . Namak Mandi 19/30 21-23 Bridge Street, Glasgow G5 9BJ . do ner haus 18/30 90 West Nile Street, Glasgow G1 2SH . Happy Hot Pot 18/30 178 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow . 83 Hanover Street 18/30 83 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EE . F Pizza 18/30 14-16 Stewart Street, Milngavie G62 6BW . HALLOUMI 18/30 697 Pollokshaws Rd, Glasgow G41 2AB . Mr Wu's Disco Kitche n 18/30 87 Kilmarnock Road, Glasgow G41 3YR . Cold to wn House 18/30 4 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU . RIOJA 17/30 1116 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8TD . The Heb ridea n 17/30 333 Great Western Road, Glasgow . The Taybe rry 17/30 594 Brook Street, Broughty Ferry DD5 2EA . SWADISH 15/30 33 Ingram St, Glasgow G1 1HA THEY IVY Tel: 0141 03791200 Website:

Disabled access: Yes Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 8am-12am. Sundays 9am-11pm.

30 Bill for three: PS174.71 Food: 7/10 - Mostly impressive Decor: 4/5 - Spectacular Service: 3/5 - Lots of staff, all keen to help Toilets: 5/5 - Divine Value for money: 3/5 - Inescapably spendy


FINE DINING... Lobster and samphire risotto, top left, and steak tartare, top right, are just two wonderful dishes served at The Ivy
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 24, 2019
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