Oxford Street is sort of a food desert. You really have to hunt to not fall into a tourist trap or a fast-food chain restaurant. I have always had to search down side streets to find lunch-worthy spots, but haven’t found too many that I would visit a second time. Well, today my luck changed. Wandering out of Selfridges and heading north, we headed away from the busy crowded Oxford Street for a little shopping break and for some peace and quiet. After a short walk, we stumbled upon The Ivy Cafe in Marylebone.
The Ivy Cafe was everything I needed in that moment. It was on a beautiful, quiet street. It was bustling but had tables available. It was warm and sunny inside. The menu had something for me craving my Sunday cheat meal and my husband who has been dabbling in a low-carb lifestyle. And boy was it pretty. The wall hangings were eclectic but refined. The tableware was clean and sophisticated, like a country club back at home. I was very content to be there and to settle into a corner booth with my hair-of-the-dog mimosa.
My husband enjoyed his low-carb swordfish and broccoli dish and I stuffed my face with eggs benedict, chips, and ketchup. We weren’t exactly in sync today, but we both enjoyed the different meals that were put in front of us. The chips were some of the best I have had in this country, actually (the actual best being up north in Derbyshire). They had a perfect crispy outside with a creamy potato filling. Just heaven!
But, in true UK fashion, while so many things were on point, the service here fell flat. I think there are two important lessons The Ivy Cafe could stand to learn. One is to always “check back on your table within either two minutes or two bites” after a meal has been delivered. The other is to “never let glasses get less than half full.” If the servers were more attentive and followed these golden rules, I would have had ketchup for my fries sooner and would have been a lot happier. I would have also gotten a second mimosa and been a lot happier and the restaurant would have made more money. Win, win. These simple service adjustments could make a world of a difference to a patron and an establishment. And I just have to add…your salt shakers are silly. The one small hole lets one grain at a time come out after shaking it like I’m bringing it back to life. Some times function needs to outweigh or at least meet fashion.
There, I’ve said my peace, but please do not let a couple criticisms overshadow the truly wonderful restaurant that is The Ivy Cafe. It is a sunny, darling restaurant with a dapper bar and crowd to match. It is a perfect escape from Oxford Street to get full and happy before heading back to Selfridges to spend your life savings.
The Ivy Cafe
96 Marylebone Lane
London W1U 2QA