The Ivy has fast become one of the most sought after bars and restaurants in Manchester. Featuring decor extravagant throughout each of its floors, it’s an instagram lovers dream to snap as you drink or dine. We were invited to review the prestigious Asia restaurant (just one of three available, the other being the Brasserie) to try the full variety of dishes available.
The decor is something that sets the Ivy apart from its competitors. Truly stunning is the attention to detail and excellent balance of using busy patterns without looking overwhelming. Each floor takes on different inspiration whilst managing to main a coherent story throughout. The Ivy Asia draws different eastern influences to inspire its interiors. This is clear from the vintage-looking bust that greets you upon arrival, immediately setting the scene.
The floor is lit with green patterned lights, this bodes well with the well-clashed pink and gold of the furnishings and chairs. Each table has a tiny bedside table style lamp, which adds to the throwback inspiration for the restaurant. As it is set in Spinningfields, you do expect a more up-market decor and the Ivy delivers on this. It fits well with nearby restaurants like Neighbourhood, offering a similar vibe to attract an affluent and fun-loving clientele. As you dine dance music is loudly pumped to build up an atmosphere, this is sure to get diners in the mood to stay out and enjoy a drink or two after but not be quite for those who like a quiet, intimate meal. It may be hard to hear, but this doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the interiors, service and refreshments.
There is even exceptional design in the bathrooms. The women’s room was so eye-catching we had to include it in our review. You walk in to a giant female statue in the centre, with a circle of private bathrooms and each providing its own sink and toilet for ultimate privacy. Full-length mirrors are backlit to ensure perfect selfie taking light if you want a cute outfit pic.
The menu consists of small serving dishes split into sections which include; raw and cured, tempura, dumplings and bao buns, robata grills and sides. This allows for great sharing options that work well for groups. At first it was tricky to choose with such a mix of dishes but our waiter talked us through the options and demonstrated great knowledge of the food to help us decide.
Our selection featured the popcorn shrimp, chicken gyoza, tofu bao buns, duck massaman, sirloin in soy sauce and sides of rice.
The popcorn shrimp was lightly crisped, delicate with a slight spice in the sauce. Small bites with great flavour made this a tasty dish to begin with.
The chicken gyoza arrived with a truffle topping and soy dipping sauce on the side. This was both fragrant and flavoursome, the texture almost gooey inside the gyoza.
Juxtaposing to this was the tofu bao, which combined a crisp outer shell with a fluffy inside. This was flavoured with miso sauce.
The first main dish was the duck massaman curry with cashew nuts. The nut flavouring was strong and the sauce had a creamy blend to it. The duck was a little tough to chew.
The other main chosen was the sirloin steak in soy sauce, this offered a generous amount of meat which was chewy and soft. The steak was requested to to be medium, but it did arrive a little bit more on the medium/well-done side. The steak was also served with crispy sesame and a soy dressing.
For sides we ordered both steamed rice and kimchi rice to suit both palette and taste.
Immediately catching our eye on the dessert menu was the Red Dragon, which comprised of dark chocolate, salted caramel and honeycomb. This dessert came displayed in an aesthetically pleasing way, with careful attention to detail in the presentation. The dark chocolate was nicely balanced with the mix of red fruits and gooey dragon fruit (hence the name). This was a nicely proportioned dessert to keep things lights and not go overboard and fill you up.
The white chocolate sphere was a showstopper. It was served alongside hot caramel sauce, which was poured around the sphere until it melted to reveal a soft centre with passion fruit meringue, yuzu and foam. This dessert is so morishly good and melts in the mouth, if you have a sweet tooth you are sure to love it.
If you like your Aperol’s but are looking for something more eastern inspired, the Shikoku Lychee Spritz is the way to go. Served with lychee adornment, this cocktail was light and refreshing. For those coveting a darker spirit, the Smoked Plum Boulevardier is ideal. When it was served it offered the perfect boomerang moment, as an outer glass was removed to reveal smoke escaping the glass. This smoke additionally adds to the flavour, making a rich flavour that is both sweet and rich.
The third cocktail sampled was the aptly named ‘Spice of Life’. Spicy it is indeed, as it is served with actual chilli on the side. Pineapple rum is served along with chilli syrup, Xocolate mole bitters, lime, mint leaves and soda. This is a strong taste with such contrasting flavours involved but worth a try if you like to be adventurous with your drinks.