Arriving in the beautiful Yorkshire town of Harrogate for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, I found myself with time on my hands – and a healthy appetite. The Ivy appeared to me like a mirage as I wandered Harrogate’s scenic streets – and the fact that it has an outdoor terrace was all the incentive I needed to venture through its doors.
Bathed in sunshine, The Ivy’s terrace, with its rose-covered trellises, homely wood panel flooring and gurgling water fountain, made for a particularly tranquil setting. It also proved an excellent sun trap and I felt very contented indeed as I soaked up the last of the day’s rays, cocktail in hand, imagining myself in Monte Carlo (I’ve never actually been to Monte Carlo, but like to think that sunshine and cocktails would play a key role should I ever find myself in Europe’s most glamorous resort).
Oh yes, the cocktail. Inspired by Jo Malone London’s new Blossoms Collection and The Ivy’s new spring & summer menu, the Ivy Harrogate bar team have created the ‘Silk Blossom Cosmo’. This blissful concoction blends Marylebone Orange & Geranium Gin with Cointreau Blood Orange, lime and cranberry juice. Take it from me: it is delicious.
Fortified, I began the arduous job of deciding what to eat – which, in respect of my starter, didn’t take long at all. The word ‘truffle’ sealed the deal and, almost instantaneously, a portion of Truffle Arancini arrived: piping hot Arborio rice balls with truffle cheese. Encased in a crisp white napkin, they practically begged to be scooped up and devoured by the handful. This being The Ivy, I did manage to show some restraint: commendable of me, I’m sure you’ll agree, after the long journey from London.
As for my main course: well, it would be difficult to dislike anything served with a Champagne sauce, wouldn’t it? For that is what accompanied my Pan-fried Salmon Supreme with Asparagus Tortellini. Add to the mix in-season and perfectly sweet broad beans, fresh summer peas and tender asparagus buds and you have the perfect dish. The salmon melted off the fork and the tortellini were plump and delicate to the touch.
Was it serendipity that brought me to The Ivy Harrogate’s door? I don’t know – but I do know that, whilst there may have been a slight pang of guilt in getting the weekend off to such a decadent start, that it’s my birthday next week. Giving might well be better than receiving – but here, in God’s Own Country, I got to do both.