Hurry, Hurry, Rush, Rush!
There are few places that are more fun to be than pretty Wimbledon Village on a sunny spring day. The little independent boutiques, the cafes, the greenery, it’s heaven for a stroll. One of my favourite shops is the fabulous Neom Organics, where they sell incredibly good room fragrances, bath products and face oils. I’m positively addicted to their Sleep Time face oil, which is guaranteed to send me into a good night’s sleep and their Happy room fragrance not only smells divine but actually does create a happy vibe, I’m convinced of it. Another address worth having is that of Chambers Tailors at 18 Wimbledon High Street, a proper old-fashioned dress makers and bespoke alteration place, where you know that your clothes, even your very best and most delicate designer wear, will come back to you just so. And then there’s all that wonderful window shopping to do. What more can a girl ask for?
It’s rare that my daughter, a young working mother, has time off for a leisurely girly lunch, so when the opportunity arose recently, we decided to make the very most of it and choose somewhere civilized and lovely to spend some quality adult time together. The Ivy Café in Wimbledon Village seemed like the perfect choice for a bite to eat after a meander around the shops as it’s located bang in the middle, right there on the High Street.
The Ivy restaurant in London’s West End has, for the last 100 years, been one of the most exclusive well-known dining destinations in the capital, but over the last few years the owners have developed the brand and opened more accessible and casual brasserie style Ivy off-shoots in various affluent areas. I’ve eaten at the one in Chelsea and also at the Kensington High Street branch and, while they have been pleasant enough, I can’t say that they’ve particularly rocked my world.
The Wimbledon branch is prettily presented and somewhat more intimate than the other two I have visited. In essence, however, they are not much different from an upmarket and more attractive version of Café Rouge, although they do carry with them the smart reputation of the Ivy name, making them instantly more desirable to a discerning clientele. Businessmen and local Ladies who Lunch people the tables. Here in Wimbledon, they also have the very lovely Danby room for hire on the first floor, which is worth remembering for any local private functions.
We’ve been allocated a very nice table for two in the airy, bright conservatory area of the restaurant overlooking a small, lush garden at the back. It’s all very civilized. The menu offers the usual Ivy fare with a wide selection for all tastes, including the now legendary Ivy Shepherd’s Pie. As it’s only lunchtime and neither my daughter nor I are big eaters or, for that matter, big boozers, we settle for a starter each with a fizzy water, a coffee and peppermint tea respectively, and a shared portion of chips just for good measure. Her choice is a Soft Goat’s Cheese Salad with raisins, hazelnuts, pickled walnuts and Belgian endive, mine a Tuna Carpaccio of raw yellowfin tuna with spiced avocado, lime crème fraiche and coriander shoots. Both dishes look great on the plate and are light, fresh and absolutely delicious. Ambience and food are just perfect for our relaxed mother and daughter lunch and, such a bonus in Wimbledon, we’ve even found somewhere close by to park with plenty of time on the meter.
My daughter is delightful company under any circumstances and we always have much to chat about. Time flies when we are together and today is extra special because, for once, we don’t have a restlessly energetic small boy with us, who demands that we hurry up with our boring talking and get down to some serious playing. Unusually, we have the luxury of entirely focusing on each other and taking our time.
Alas, this is where there’s a fly in the ointment. Although we’re early and the restaurant is only slowly filling up, the staff seem to be in a rush to get us processed. Polite and efficient as they are, the underlying message is clear; order, eat and vacate. You need nerves of steel to resist their efforts to get you done and dusted. Once it becomes clear that we will not be ordering a main course, a pudding or alcohol, the nervous hovering begins. So much for our ‘relaxed’ lunch. Just over an hour after we have taken our seats, and after stubbornly avoiding any eye contact with our waitress while lingering just a few extra moments over our hot drinks, the situation becomes too uncomfortable and we leave.
The Ivy Wimbledon has so much going for it, the lovely food and the charming environment. It’s a great shame that it’s not more welcoming and doesn’t invite you to while away some time, enjoying all it has to offer.
Our bill came to £32.01 including service charge and VAT, which may not be a bargain for such a light bite but which is equally also not outrageous for lunch at one of London’s more upmarket brasseries.
What I wore
White skinny JBrand jeans, oversized M&S nude cashmere V neck jumper, cream Rino & Pelle leather jacket, animal print suede Manolo Blahnik court shoes, cream vintage Gucci bag with bamboo handle and shoulder strap.
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