Restaurant Review: The Ivy Buchanan Street in Glasgow
Travel and food writer Katherine Hodgson discovers that the iconic chain’s newest outpost is perfectly priced and positioned.
Central Glasgow is long overdue better restaurants. From Central Station to Charing Cross, the heart of Scotland’s largest city is littered with predictable chains and tired old dining rooms.
There are a few exceptions – notably the Western Club, Brian Maule and Cafe Gandolphi – but the best food is undeniably found in the west end and trendy Finnieston.
Enter The Ivy. The legendary London chain, now in more than 30 locations, opened its second Scottish restaurant in July. It’s enjoyed roaring trade since – and it’s easy to see why. The Ivy Buchanan Street fills a gap in the Glasgow market: for elegant, unpretentious dining at a reasonable price.
Housed in a former Nationwide bank, The Ivy Glasgow is spread across two floors – with casual dining on the first, and a cocktail bar and function room upstairs.
Art-deco columns and covings sit alongside vibrant paintings and prints. It does, at times, border on garish (the bubblegum pink bathroom springs to mind), but the restaurant is generally tasteful and immaculately kept.
Much like the artwork lining the walls, the menu is busy – a staple in most Ivy restaurants. There are 13 starters, 21 mains and 11 sides to choose from on the all day menu. A heaving list indeed, but generally no-thrills in what it offers. The food is straight-forward, safe and tasty.
If you can, opt for fish. The scallops were a fresh and satisfying starter, while the cod fillet was light and delicately cooked and the haddock fishcake crunchy and flavoursome.
In a city once crowned the UK’s most vegan-friendly by PETA, it’s hardly surprising that those eschewing animal produce are well catered for. An increasingly popular alternative to meat, jackfruit makes an appearance in a ‘peanut bang bang salad’ – something traditionally associated with chicken. While the jackfruit itself was well-cooked and tender, the spicy sauce overpowered its delicate flavour.
Much like the food menu, the wine list is overwhelming. But the bottles are well-priced, with few above £50 and there are plenty of half-bottles to choose from. The Australian Shiraz was a stand-out choice: a rich, full-bodied red that washes food down far too easily.
There’s also a decent selection of cocktails, and a handful of specially crafted gin and tonics – including rhubarb and bramble gins with raspberry liqueur and fresh blueberries.
For those more inclined to drinking it straight, or without a garnish, the gin list includes several first-rate Scottish options such as The Botanist, Caorunn and Theodore Pictish.
Manageable portion sizes make dessert an obvious choice. The frozen berries and yoghurt sorbet were a welcomed change to stodgy puddings – a refreshing end to a rich meal.
It took The Ivy Collection two years to open the Glasgow restaurant, and it shows. It is a restaurant that knows its audience and its area. Its both flashy yet not too fussy – it’s sophisticated but not excessive. It’s right at home in Buchanan Street, where Glaswegians are eager to spend – but spend sensibly.
Address: 106 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 2NB
Phone: 0141 378 1200