The Ivy Cheltenham
The Muddy sisters were partying at the preview of the glitzy new The Ivy Montpellier Brasserie and then, as soon as the doors opened, we swooped in for lunch…
The über-chic Montpellier ‘hood of Cheltenham is a flaneur’s dream, with cafés, bars and boutiques tripping over themselves – and with The Ivy now at the centre of it, you won’t want to be anywhere else, especially as it’s offering all-day dining nirvana.
Fun! It’s a fabulous art deco cocktail of ocean-liner glamour and a relaxed, let’s-have-a-laugh vibe, and every detail from the resplendent circular bar down to the curvy side lamps is perfecto.
As you walk in, you’ll find green velvet armchairs to sink into, the signature rust-coloured leather banquettes to cosy up in and then, ta-da, that bar sitting under the magnificent dome that was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
Yes, crane your neck for this as it’s truly beautiful. (And as good a reason as any to prop up the bar until you end up horizontal gazing up at it.)
Overlooking Montpellier Street at the back (come spring, there’ll be al-fresco tables) is the very clubbable Private Dining Room with a huge Captain’s-style table for 20, red leather chairs, fabric wall panels, antiquey looking mirrors, art deco lighting, luscious dark oak parquet and Instagrammable artwork inspired by Cheltenham’s gee-gees heritage.
And you’ll even get a visual treat walking to the loos, in the shape of fabulous insect drawings which are somehow just the thing.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The relaxed ambience is mirrored in the food, with comfort-food staples galore, including The Ivy’s famous shepherd’s pie, fish & chips, slow-roasted lamb shoulder and steak, egg & chips. And I for one am always very pleased to see a prawn cocktail on a menu. Needless to say, this is all delivered to an impeccably high standard.
The mozzarella di bufala with clementine, sourdough croutons, chili, pine nuts and pesto was incredible, as was the oak smoked salmon with rye soda bread. Our dining partner had a list of food allergies as long as her arm, but that didn’t faze the impeccable serving staff, for whom nothing, and I mean nothing, was too much trouble.
For her main of sea bass, they changed the sauce to accommodate her needs and were helpfully there when we needed them and invisible when we were in our bubble of fun.
Unfortunately, we had to dash off before pudding (damn the school run!), but there are plans to go back for the flourless cappuccino cake and the chocolate bombe, oh, and the crème brûlée.
I definitely wouldn’t rule out bringing the sproglets. The prices won’t make you choke, they’d love the shepherd’s pie and you’ve got to start showing them what civilised eating is all about at some point. And it’s not so haute that you’d cringe if they started eating with their knife and fork in the wrong hand.
OUT & ABOUT
You’re bang in the poshest bit of already posh Cheltenham here, with Montpellier offering up chichi fashion boutiques, stunning architecture adorned with Greek goddesses and the beautiful Montpellier Gardens for strolling, tennis and ice-cream eating.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Anyone who likes a fun, buzzy vibe that doesn’t break the bank.
Not for: Fine diners who like taster menus, wine pairings and a hushed environment.
The damage: Surprisingly reasonable. Most starters come in around £7, mains hover around the £14 to £16 mark, with desserts, £6 to £8. You’re looking at £34 if you order the grilled whole lobster with garlic and parsley butter, watercress and thick cut chips, but hey, it’s lobster (and doesn’t it sound good!)
The Ivy Montpellier Brasserie, Rotunda Terrace, Montpellier Walk, Cheltenham, Glos GL50 1SD. Tel: 01242 894200