A leisurely lunch at The Ivy in Dubai

The Ivy’s business lunch is a relaxed affair, perfect for those with a full hour to spare or more.
The Ivy restaurant at The Boulevard on Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Jaime Puebla / The National
The Ivy restaurant at The Boulevard on Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Jaime Puebla / The National

The Ivy is widely known as the haunt of celebrities and socialites in London, where supposedly normal folk have to wait weeks before getting a table. Thankfully, one can just waltz in to the Dubai branch located in the Emirates Towers Boulevard.

It is a tasteful establishment, both in regards to its art deco decor and its British menu. My colleague and fellow foodie Adam Bouyamourn and I sampled the business lunch menu, which offers two courses for Dh130 plus a drink or three courses for Dh150. There are 11 different dishes on the whole menu, enough of a selection for everyone to pick something they like.

Many high-end restaurants that offer a business lunch present customers with tiny and usually mediocre versions of the dishes available on the full price à la carte menu. Not so at The Ivy. While the starters could have done with a bit more oomph and thought, the mains were near perfect.

I opted for the crispy duck, orange and watercress salad to start, which was small and could have done with more duck and less orange, but it was refreshing. Adam’s mackerel salad with cubes of beetroot and a drizzle of pesto oil was not overpowering he says, “as smoked, pepper-crusted mackerel is wont to be”.

Adam continued with the piscatorial theme and chose the smoked haddock with champ potatoes, poached egg and grain mustard sauce.

I had the Osso Bucco, a succulent chunk of veal served with polenta, olives gremolata and tomatoes, and it was beautifully tender. As I’ve mentioned in a previous review, tender meat is vital for polite business dining.

Adam’s choice of the haddock might have looked bland as everything on the dish was either white or beige, but the flavours made up for the lack of colour. There were a couple of bones in the fillet, however, never a pleasant sight when discussing terms, negotiating contracts or securing a deal. It is distracting and therefore inappropriate for a business lunch.

As for the desserts, we both opted for the banoffee pie with vanilla ice-cream. The first bite was a delightful moment of saccharine gratification, a perfect way to perk up the senses and fill your mind with enough serotonin to keep you smiling all the way back to the office.

The service was engaging and polite, but not speedy. The Ivy’s business lunch is a relaxed affair, perfect for those with a full hour (or more).

q&a menu based on diversity

Ben Tobitt, head chef at The Ivy, reveals more about the Ivy’s business offering.

How often do you change the business lunch menu?

On a weekly basis, since we encourage a large number of regular customers at lunchtime, and we like to provide new dishes for them to sample each week.

How do you decide which dishes to put on the business lunch menu?

We like to play around with the menu to ensure we continue to delight our diners. We will sometimes use elements from an à la carte dish or a recipe that features in a function taking place at the restaurant. However, we usually create variations on customer favourites such as braised short rib of beef with horseradish potato and buttered carrots.

When will you stop fiddling about with the crème brûlée and bring the original, plain version back?

We base our dishes around feedback from our diners. This is apparent as the ginger creme brûlée that appeared on the menu before we updated it in March, and the Frangelico creme brûlée on the current menu have by far out sold the original.

Where do you source your ingredients from?

From a number of places. All of our fish is flown in fresh from UK. For more specialised unique vegetables it comes from French markets. Most of the meat in the Dubai restaurant is from Australia, although we do get some Welsh lamb flown in. We get local ingredients, local baby chicken and we have locally made burratta in Sharjah.

thamid@thenational.ae

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Published: May 20, 2014 04:00 AM

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