Veggin’ out at the Ivy Café
Happy New Year! Have you resolved to try Dry January and ‘Veganuary’? Or perhaps you are just trying to shed some of that weight you put on over the festive period? Over the next few weeks I plan to give you some hints and tips about some of the alcohol-free alternatives and vegan/veggie products I have been researching but first of all here is a review of a recent meal which I thought was appropriate to kick-start a healthy phase for 2019.
There is something rather special about The Ivy Café in Richmond; immediately on entry, you are struck by the ‘buzz’ of the place. It’s exciting, and you feel that you really are there with the ‘in crowd’. We went a while ago (before the Christmas rush) with a late booking at 2 p.m. It was heaving and continued to be pretty busy all afternoon.
The Ivy Café has listened to customer feedback and recently introduced a special vegetarian menu with a number of vegan options too. I decided to check it out, and who better to
take along to help me review it than my daughter’s bestie, who is vegan. Not just that, she is a vegan who knows about - and likes - her vegan food and has a vegan Instagram post – georgiejackman_ - where she posts lovely photos of her creations.
As it was Friday, (but not that we needed an excuse), we started with a glass of house champagne, which went down a treat. Georgie chose Warm Asian Salad (£7.50) Watermelon, pak choi, broccoli, cashew nuts, sesame, coriander and hoisin sauce (Vegan) while I opted
for Avocado and Tomato cocktail (£8.75) Red pepper, lettuce, and pomegranate dressed with a spicy harissa sauce (Vegan). Both were very prettily presented and Georgie’s Asian Salad was a particularly interesting combination with a tasty dressing. My cocktail was good, but considering its name, only had three tiny baby tomatoes in total lurking underneath, but both dishes were good. We each enjoyed a glass of Soave (£8.50) with our meal.
The mains menu was - at first sight - slightly disappointing in that it seemed rather heavy on the sweet potato and butternut squash, and light on so many other fabulous vegetables widely available. Beetroot, for example, didn’t appear at all. Nor did aubergine, spinach or kale.
Georgie chose Roasted butternut squash with grains Buckwheat, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate with crumbled bean curd, harissa sauce and coriander dressing (£12.75) and I decided to have the Sweet potato Keralan curry Chickpeas, broccoli, coriander, and coconut served with rice on the side (£16.95). Both dishes were vegan.
Our food was absolutely delicious, but we both felt that they were a tad mean, portion-wise, especially considering the lack of expensive ingredients such as fish or meat.
On the dessert menu, the vegan options were disappointing – Georgie had the choice of just fresh fruits or sorbets. There are so many other, yummy, vegan desserts and cakes available, and I think the Ivy chefs could take inspiration from people like the Vegan Society, whose website has recipes for cheesecake, brownies, and pancakes to name just a few.
Georgie chose the Selection of fresh fruits Fruit plate with coconut “yoghurt” and chia seeds (£7.95) but at this point of the meal I’m afraid I left her to it on the vegan and veggie front and went for it with the Chocolate bombe (£8.50) which to me was worth the extra 55p and wow, it was amazing!
To summarise: congratulations to The Ivy Café for taking the initiative to introduce a vegan and vegetarian menu. It is definitely a step in the right direction. In fact many restaurants now have a wide range of dishes that are vegan but are on their main menu, being so interesting and delicious.
Well done The Ivy Café – and let’s hope more restaurant groups follow their example. With ‘Veganuary’ becoming more widely accepted I wonder how long it will be before all restaurant groups automatically have a vegan and vegetarian menu for their customers to opt for?