I remember going to The Ivy in London for the first time. I must have only been about 22. It was for an event with my old job. I remember feeling so excited to step into the elusive West End haunt. It’s one of those iconic London venues that should be on everyone’s London bucket list. If the walls could speak, they’d have plenty of stories to tell. So I was both surprised and excited to hear the news that one-and-only The Ivy was franchising and creating regional outlets across the UK. The Ivy has spread to 14 regional locations in England alone and I’m lucky that 2 of them (soon to be 3) are right on my doorstep in Yorkshire. The Ivy has set up camp in Harrogate and York, and will also open in Leeds later this year. I was recently invited to go and experience a traditional afternoon tea at The Ivy St Helens Square in York, and it was an offer too tempting to miss.
York is my hometown and where my Mum and Dad still live, so I thought it would be nice to invite them along with me. We met in a bustling St Helens Square at 3pm and I observed The Ivy from the street. It was a hub of activity both indoor and outdoor, with people enjoying food and drinks al fresco in the summer heatwave. It has to be one of the best and most central locations in the city.
Having grown up in York, I remember when the same premises was a clothing shop called Free Spirit. Aged about 14, me and my friends would go and browse in there every weekend, knowing full well we couldn’t afford any of the clothes. After a few moments of reminiscing, it was time to head inside and for afternoon tea at The Ivy.
There were a few parallels of the original Ivy restaurant which immediately apparent, including the art-deco interiors and the two well-dressed hostesses waiting at a reception-type desk at the entrance. After giving my name, they looked up our reservation and showed us to our seats. We had a gorgeous table right by the window, which was flooding with natural light (great for photos I thought).
We were booked in for the signature afternoon tea, so we didn’t really need to peruse the menu, but I still looked out of interest (you know, for next time). I loved the sound of the combinations on the afternoon tea menu which included;
Truffled chicken brioche roll // Marinated cucumber and dill finger sandwich // Smoked salmon on gluten-free dark rye with cream cheese and chives
Warm fruited scone with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve
Raspberry cheesecake // Chocolate and salted caramel mousse // Crème brûlée doughnut
A choice of teas, infusions or coffees
The cost for afternoon tea at The Ivy St Helens Square is £19.75 and you have the option to add a glass of champagne for £27.50 in total.
The truffled chicken brioche roll was to-die-for, and was definitely my favourite out of the 3. I’m not a smoked salmon fan but my parents both commented on how delicious they were. I’ve never truly understood cucumber sandwiches as they’re so plain, but seem to be a quintessentially British afternoon tea staple. Perhaps they’re meant to be a palette cleanser?
For me, the scones are always the highlight of any afternoon tea. I’ve seen them come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and flavours. The Ivy St Helens Square played it fairly safe with their scones, which were served warm with currants and raisins. They were on the small size, so I had room for 2 with lashings of clotted cream and jam. None of us were holding back, so we had to ask for a top up of both, which the waiters were happy to bring for us. I decided to run an Instagram story vote to see if people spread the cream then the jam or the jam then the cream. The result was very mixed and strongly opinionated. Which order do you do it?
In typical Jess fashion, I overdid it on the scones and barely left myself any room for dessert. So in an elegant Mary Berry type-fashion, I decided to take a bite out of each of them. It was my duty to try everything after all. My favourite dish was the creme brulee donut which combined all of my favourite things but was a taste and texture combination I had never tried before. Indulgent and utterly delicious! My second favourite was the creative chocolate and salted caramel mousse, which genuinely looked like soil in a mini flower pot. The mouse was rich and velvety alongside the salted caramel. Gorgeous!
My parents and I adored our first experience of afternoon tea at The Ivy. It felt like a real treat to take the afternoon off work and indulge in something like this. The Ivy is such an exciting asset to arrive in my home town of York and I can’t wait for the opening in Leeds too.
Have you ever experienced afternoon tea at The Ivy? What are your highlights of an afternoon tea? If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment in the box below. Jess x
The Ivy York
2 St. Helen’s Square
01904 403 888
My afternoon tea at The Ivy St Helens Square York was provided complimentary. All views and photos are my own.