Lunch at the Ivy Asia – Gluten and Dairy Free?  Plus a Pushchair? Absolutely No Problem, Lovely Lunch!

We heard the Ivy Asia had a new lunch offer to celebrate St. David’s Day – at just £19.17 for two courses it seemed too good to not take advantage so my friend Jayne and I decided to take advantage, and invited a gentleman we’ve been trying to persuade to become our new wine reviewer, Chris Rogers of the Splendid Wine Agency, to come along.

All seemed straightforward, until work-from-home Jayne had to babysit her beautiful grand-daughter at the last minute – and we suddenly remembered that our lovely Chris has to eat dairy and gluten free.

Having run restaurants myself, I know that we would present a few challenges that would test the most experienced waiting staff, it wasn’t deliberate, but we hadn’t advised them in advance about the pushchair or the fact that one of our team had gluten and dairy intolerance – and we were eating from the limited fixed price set menu.

We need not have worried, we received a lovely welcome from the professional team, with flawless service from Pat, who could not have been more helpful throughout.

However, before we ordered we spent a good few minutes just taking in the stunning atmosphere, from the beautiful flooring to the blossom tree in the heart of the dining room.  The interior is completely different to the main Ivy Restaurant next door but every bit as impressive – and perhaps feels a little more intimate (yes, even with a pushchair!).  There were other families present and the staff and other diners felt very accepting, no stuffiness whatsoever, just a beautifully furnished interior, perfect service and a friendly, inclusive atmosphere.

Pat showed a clear knowledge and understanding of allergies, knew exactly the ingredients of every dish and guided my colleague to suitable choices, creating a special version of a starter dish that was suitable for Chris to eat – and his main course, the Prawn and Tamarind curry, was delicious too (he let us have a taste!)  He had this served with a side of sticky rice, which he said was excellent.

We asked Pat (and obviously Wine expert Chris) to help us with a wine choice.  Chris recommended we choose a rose to match the food and Pat guided us to the Ivy’s house rose – it proved the perfect choice to accompany the subtle spices of the lunch menu.

Some of the delicious dishes on the fixed price menu – with the ‘white rose’ made from ginger slices!

Food wise, Jayne and I both started with the chicken skewers, with a side of sliced ginger.  The presentation was unusual, with the ginger presented as delicate slices made into the shape of a white rose – and tasted amazing. Our skewers were delicious too.  Chris’s starter was an adapted version of the roll that was Gluten and Dairy free and made specially in the kitchen for him, which was impressive.

The food in the Ivy Asia is served with chopsticks, but Pat (ever the professional) did not bat an eyelid when we heathens asked for forks with our mains…. so don’t be scared to ask.

For her main, Jayne had the half Roast Chicken breast, which looked far more stunning than it sounded, coated in a sticky peanut marinade – and honestly one of the nicest mains I’ve tasted.

I chose the Aromatic Duck Fried Rice, which was delicious and very spicy – perhaps a little too spicy for me, however I have the appetite of a gnat anyway, so ate my normal sized portion and left – noticing, and professional throughout, Pat asked if I would like them to prepare a milder version for me – I declined as I had eaten my normal fill anyway, but the kindness, professionalism and attention to detail did not go unnoticed.

Chris’s Prawn and Tamarind curry was also delicious, although we felt a tad guilty stealing a taste!

The special offer is a two course menu, but of course, for a few extra pounds (on the waist and the pocket!) you can indulge on a third.  It would have been rude not to, and Jayne and I both chose the Creme Brulee, which was outstanding, topped with a Sesame and Sake Tuile – and Chris settled for a double espresso.

All in all, this was an exceptionally pleasant lunch with spot-on service, at a bargain price.  I’d add it was also easy to leave quickly (due to car parking), and I couldn’t fault anything about the food or the service.  I have already been recommending this brilliant deal to friends – and we will definitely visit again (hopefully soon!).