The Ivy Asia is the centre piece of the new four-storey flagship restaurant and bar in Manchester’s Spinningfields – and the second floor restaurant has all the decorations. There are bejewelled napkin rings and brass table tops, bird covered panels and a luminescent green floor. My velveteen booth appears to be floating on a sea of emerald phosphorescence, which is obviously amazing – and Asian-lite menu has a go at living up to the setting. If you’ve been to Living Venture’s pan-Asian restaurant and bar. Australasia, the food on offer at the Ivy Asia will be familiar; it’s basically a less fancy, more fried version of that. There are raw and cured dishes, tempura, bao and dumplings, grilled meats and seafood. We try the spiced squid rings with a limey dressing (£8.75) and tempura prawns with salty dashi stock (£10.95). Larger plates are better; Thai seabass comes with citrus and holy basil (£18.95), crispy duck bao buns are pretty much perfect (plus you get a lot for £8.50) while slow-cooked, sticky pork belly cubes are cut on the square and charred on the outside (£14.95, pictured) – I like these a lot. A shaved vegetable salad with avo-miso dressing (£7.95) is surprise hit, and The Ivy’s signature ‘white chocolate sphere’ (£8.95) is worth trying. Rich caramel cracks a sheeny shell and drizzles over a pillow of passionfruit meringue in a theatrical move that works. Cocktails weren’t up to much; smoky plum negroni is too sweet (£9), a fizzy Hibaki High Ball with Japanese scotch is better (£11). In terms of wine, if money were no object, I’d go for the Chilean Cabernet Franc (Garage Wine Co. £65) but the Cotes du Rhone (Alain Jaume, Haut de Brun, £35) is a great all rounder. So. The setting is the star at this newcomer – but it’s got strengths in the food department too, particularly when it comes to larger plates and desserts.
The Ivy Spinningfields, The Pavilion, Byrom Street, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3HG. Tel: 0161 503 3222, www.theivymanchester.com
Published on: Mon 17 Dec 2018