Walking into The Ivy Birmingham apprehensively as I didn’t feel I’d dressed correctly for this level of venue we were met by the host team who were the best part of the experience. Three immaculately turned out ladies with bags of personality who made me feel immediately at ease in a jeans and tee shirt. They took our coats and engaged with us as a group. A nice touch having all interact and no one hiding behind the desk.
Lead to our table by the window the place is immaculately turned out and all the staff match. Immaculate. Beautiful. If I was comparing it to the Ivy of London it is a lot brighter and fresher than its capitol counterpart which is an oak panelled, stained glass broody stature of British dining.
But is it fair to compare any other Ivy establishment to the original one? As this is a ‘Ivy Grill and Brasserie’ not ‘The Ivy’. Should we expect service and food to only be a reflection or shadow of an establishment so world renowned? A place that very much holds stead in my heart. I didn’t find myself falling in love with Brum Ivy like I did the 1917 restaurant it was born from.
Service was polite, the team were fantastic at presenting just enough personality to not be intrusive at the table. The follow up from someone in a managerial position felt natural and not at all part of the service process – executed excellently. The the attention wasn’t there when it came to a real struggle for space on the table.
We had finished our Beet It (beetroot, apple, lemon & ginger) juices and an americano. But the server jostled our toast onto the table leaving next to no room for our mains plates. Neglecting to take away empties. The table was crowded with the beautiful silverware tea pots, milk jugs and sugar pot, there were 3 opportunities for the empties to be removed before we had to ask. And then our server only nearly took one of the three glasses and the coffee cup.
Seamless service (which I hope anyone would expect when paying £13.50 for a Full English and £3.75 for a pot of tea) was not there. The server didn’t manage the table well operationally. While the personality and polite service made it an enjoyable experience the other side of serving – being a ghost who you do not notice making the experience run as smooth as say – a Royal Wedding, didn’t happen.
The beautiful teapots were too hot to handle as they were silver, I feel something needed to be placed around the handle to prevent this discomfort. The tea bag was also on string and tied to the lid. This prevented me from stirring the brew to a suitable strength tea (after I’d burnt myself opening the lid).
The toast arrive well before the actual breakfast – served in a toast rack. Frustrating if you prefer it warm toast that melts your butter into the bread.
The breakfast itself was a simple classic Full English with no gimmicks. But for me the fried eggs had hard yolks, the black pudding was dry and crumbly and the sausages over cooked for my liking. I also found the mushroom to be under seasoned. The bacon was lovely smoked streaky cooked crisp and the tomatoes were grilled properly and throughout. Beans were served in a separate pot.
I expected more. Birmingham deservs better than ‘real imitation’. Its the Ivy is The Ivy, not a ‘real imitation’ designer handbag from the rag market. People were great, service was not. A few little points, (like tea pots that were too hot and didnt have anything to protect those picking them up), not clearing glasses, not clearing tea pots, the wait from toast to breakfast, hard eggs, dry black pudding, means that I cannot offer more than 4/10.