Did you hear that the place in the UK with the biggest rise in house prices in 2017 was Cheltenham? 13%! I mean 13% – that’s cray cray don’t you think?
Lying awake the other night practicing some controlled crying (yep -that saga continues) I got to wondering why that might be. Well primarily it’s clearly that CheltenhamMaman has come into existence – I mean that must count for at least 8% of the 13. We’ve got some pretty good schools too, then there’s all those wonderful festivals – yep I can suddenly see why that number is so high. Then of course this year the icing on the already pretty spectacular cake is The Ivy. When you really think about it – Cheltenham deserves to be top spot of places that people want to move to.
On Friday night the CheltenhamPapa and I were lucky enough to take date night to The Ivy. I’d visited before for drinks and a bloggers brunch but now that they have been open a month this seemed like the perfect opportunity to really get a feel for the place now that all of the hype has calmed down.
We were lucky (in my opinion) with our table. There are two distinct dining areas in the Brasserie. As you enter there are tables to each side and these are the ones that you see when you peer through the window as you walk down Montpellier Walk. The second section is in the main building beneath the majestic rotunda with it’s epic high ceilings and immense listed pillars. This second room is perfect for people watching and sapping up the atmosphere but for an intimate, cosy date night I’d go for the first dining area. It was warm, quiet enough to have a chat but in no way lacking in ambience. This seems like the perfect moment also to congratulate the Ivy on their decor and artwork – it’s stunning and a real talking point.
The second big tick I award to The Ivy is for service. They’ve really nailed this and seem to have an excellent team in place. Attentive but not intrusive. Knowledgable but not pretentious.
Third big tick…. cocktails. Not cheap but worth it. I sampled the Pittville Collins and it was delicious.
Now on to the menu. It’s so varied and there really does seem to be an option for all. For a big celebration the steaks pack a serious punch though if you are pairing one with chips and a sauce expect to pay around £40. If you’re not feeling quite so extravagant there’s fish and chips or a shepherd’s pie for around £14 (making it a great destination for a family meal with older children too!) As for younger children? Obviously we didn’t bring the Bébé on date night but my understanding is that during the day they are made to feel very welcome and the kitchen staff can accommodate them food wise with ease.
I chose scallops to start – I’m no foodie but they were a real treat. The Papa is a man of tradition and went for the Classic Prawn Cocktail.
Main course…. where my husband goes for classic choices I continually frustrate him by finding the most obscure choice on the menu. This time I found the Chicken Milanese – a brioche crumbed chicken -which I paired with creamed spinach. It was delicious but seriously rich – possibly too rich for me. The Papa insists going forward that he will order for me and I think he’s probably got a point – there’s usually a reason why classic meals are classics – because they are consistently delicious (his steak proving this to perfection.)
Dessert – the Melting Chocolate Bombe for me – I’d seen it on Instagram and couldn’t not. I had intended to publish a video of the waiter pouring the chocolate sauce over the top and it melting spectacularly but by this time I’d had a cocktail and two (ish) glasses of wine I’d forgotten to press record (story of my life). For the Papa – Lemon Meringue Baked Alaska which he devoured happily.
Coffee was beautifully served in silver pots and our evening sadly came to an end.
So for what would I recommend The Ivy? Pretty much everything actually. I mean the lower end of it’s menu makes it accessible for a (just about) affordable working lunch. Brunch was amazing when I visited before and would be a great start to any day with or without the family. Their afternoon tea has had some excellent reviews and looked priced to compete with any of the other local offerings. Dinner was perfect too.
The Ivy is a special place and it feels like a real treat but they’ve worked really hard not make the atmosphere intimidating. I genuinely get the feeling that despite the smartly uniformed staff they really do welcome everyone in the same warm way. So really probably best to get down there and try it for yourself!
As for date nights – they do make all the difference to these long old days of parenthood (I just loved this beautiful sketch I saw from Sketchy Mama the other day) and are something we should be planning more of. After a busy day with small people sometimes concealing your eye bags and wearing something other than loungewear can seem like too big of a task but we all need grown up time and it really is worth getting some protected time in the diary and getting the babysitter booked in. When you get on your date night, grab a cocktail and brainstorm other ideas for 2018 date nights and then you’ll have a list to refer to when you need it!
Happy Sunday Mamans – hope you’re having a great weekend.
This meal was kindly gifted to us for review but all opinions are honest and my own.