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Over the past two years, Richard Caring and Caprice Holdings have embarked on a rapid expansion of their most famous restaurant brand, with the Ivy Market Grill and Ivy Chelsea Garden leading the way. This third extension, in classy Marylebone, replicates the all-day dining and slightly cheaper prices. Likewise, the interior comes from Martin Brudnizki Design Studio; the brass-topped bar, pendant lighting and banquette seating produce a classy brasserie feel, helped by jazz piano tinkling over the speakers. Half the seats are reserved for walk-ins, to allow for well-heeled locals dropping by. Happy diners were packing the little space on our visit, served by friendly, efficient staff. The menu is replete with Ivy classics: shepherd’s pie, fishcake and hamburger among them, along with a short list of steaks. Chicken liver parfait was light yet rich, topped with crunchy caramelised hazelnuts and a fruity cherry and pepper compote. Main course aromatic duck curry featured long, enticingly crunchy strips of fresh coconut, but a whole lemon sole in beurre noisette with capers – though faultless in flavour – was slightly overcooked. To finish, the chocolate bombe is a rich showstopper comprising hot caramel sauce, a thin chocolate shell, vanilla ice cream and tiny pieces of honeycomb dotted throughout. Our only quibble is with the narrow staircase down to the toilets (and kitchen), where you’ll often encounter waiters carrying up trays of food. In all, though, this café enhances the Ivy brand: an instant classic, we predict.
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