Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with the girls, but there comes a point in the school holidays when the squabbling becomes incessant and completely inane (‘She broke my Lego house ON PURPOSE!’ ‘Well, she came into my room WITHOUT ASKING!’) and I just. Need. A. Break.
So it was with insanely perfect timing that I received an email inviting me to Champagne afternoon tea at The Ivy Marlow Garden. Some actual grown-up Mummy me-time!
I used to read about the original London restaurant – which opened as a café in 1917 and quickly became a West End celebrity hotspot – in books and glossy magazines. So when I moved here from Sydney one of the first things I did was book a table, and drag OH along; despite being English he’d never heard of The Ivy, so wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about… and then our food arrived.
We’d both ordered swordfish, which neither of us had tried before, and it was one of those game-changingly delicious dishes that we still talk about to this day.
But while the Covent Garden restaurant is – and will always be – the Grand Dame, she has since welcomed nearly 30 new offspring into the family. The Ivy Collection is a cluster of restaurants and cafés with the same sophisticated art-deco styling, but a more relaxed brasserie feel, that are dotted around the London and the UK.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of The Ivy Marlow, just over a year ago, and was blown away by how beautiful it was inside.
And the best part was still to come!
The atrium and outdoor courtyard was a gorgeous garden oasis, spilling over with plants and flowers and olive trees. Even though we were just metres from Marlow’s busy high street, it felt as if we were a million miles from anywhere.
So I convinced my friend and fellow mum Chloe (didn’t have to convince her at all) to join me for at The Ivy Marlow Garden last week for a deliciously child-free treat.
We arrived at 4 pm, literally giddy with excitement to be free, and determined to make the most of every moment. The Maitre’d showed us to our plush banquette, and gave us each a glass of Champagne: ‘Would you like your afternoon tea now?’ she smiled.
The waiter returned, carrying a cake stand heaving with goodies.
‘In your savoury selection you have truffled chicken brioche rolls, cucumber & dill finger sandwiches, and smoked salmon with cream cheese on rye bread,’ he explained, ‘While your sweets include a raspberry cheesecake, a créme brûlée doughnut, and a chocolate & salted caramel mousse.
‘In addition to this, you also have warm fruited scones with Dorset clotted cream and strawberry preserve; enjoy!’
It all looked (and tasted!) amazing, but there was definitely a stand-out – the Ivy Collection’s newly introduced Nursery Pot mousse, complete with chocolate dirt and edible flowers. ‘But don’t try to eat the pot,’ we were warned, ‘that is NOT part of the dish.’ ‘
Have people tried?!’ I asked. ‘Unfortunately, yes,’ he replied, ‘Heston Blumenthal has a lot to answer for…’
For the next hour-and-a-half, we worked our way through the delicious bite-sized goodies while sipping rose tea and catching up on all the gossip – without a single ‘Muuuuuuuuuuum!’ interrupting our reverie. And it was divine.
We left feeling full, refreshed and already planning our next trip back.
Afternoon tea at the Ivy Marlow Garden: traditional cream tea is £8.75, afternoon tea is £19.75, Champagne afternoon tea is £27.50.
• our afternoon tea was provided for the purpose of review