There’s no denying that Chelsea has hundreds of great places to grab a bite but if you’re looking for some prime people watching, you’ll want to book a table at The Ivy Chelsea Garden.
Celebrating its 100th birthday this year, The Ivy has expanded from its original West Street venue in central London to include an entire ‘Ivy Collection’ of upmarket grills and brasseries across the city.
Having thoroughly enjoyed our recent brunch at The Ivy Soho Brasserie we were looking forward to the Chelsea experience, especially as the restaurant is renowned for having a gorgeous, blooming courtyard.
You know what they say about the best laid plans though…
The on/off torrential downpours earlier in the afternoon meant the courtyard wasn’t an option but it was hard to complain when the interior is this lovely…
As Graham and I had both finished work early on Friday, we opted for an early dinner which meant we were surrounded by ladies who lunch, yummy mummies and millennials with generous parents (one table of 5 girls had over £10,000 worth of handbags between them which I can’t honestly believe they afforded on their own…)
Endlessly entertained by the conversations going on around us it took a while to be able to focus in on the menu which boasts ‘modern British dishes drawn from The Ivy’s own extensive menu’.
We started with the salted sourdough bread, which is always a favourite! (Salt, bread and butter – what more could you want?!)
For mains, Graham went for the Roast Salmon Fillet with a side of peas, sugar snaps and baby shoots and I opted for a combination of the Tempura Prawns and the Soft Goat’s Cheese Salad.
It’s always a sign of good ordering when you can barely fit all the food on the table!
We happily ate, chatted and surreptitiously kept up with what was happening at the neighbouring tables and by the time we were done the rain had finally decided to call it a day.
Happily stuffed, we strolled back down the King’s Road towards Peter Jones for a browse and then caught a bus home. The perfect end to a busy week!
Love milkshakes? Hot dogs? Burgers and fries? (AKA the staples of the North American diet)…I’ve got a tasty new find for you!
Tucked only feet away from the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden market you’ll find MEATMarket.
No tourists, no crowds, just delicious food at a great price in a fun atmosphere.
Take a moment to bask in the glow of the menu and then follow the arrows and step right up to place your order at the counter.
We opted for the classics – a hot dog (a proper beef dog in a proper bun! – hard to find this side of the pond), strawberry milkshake and fries for me and a bacon cheeseburger and fries for him. The whole menu looks delicious though.
Not nearly as loud or dark as it’s older brother (MEATLiquor), MEATMarket is the perfect place to take a break from the London crowds and indulge in a delicious feast that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
On the Sunday following my birthday I was told that I needed to be dressed in something ‘delightful and springy’ and ready to be picked up from my apartment at 1:30 for a surprise outing. Needless to say, I was intrigued…
On the dot of 1:30 my doorbell rang and I was greeted by Lucy and Ella bearing presents, flowers and the world’s largest and most delightful birthday balloon.
After gifts (the BEST part of any birthday!) we hopped in an Uber to a mystery location (Ella to the driver: ‘DON’T SAY WHERE WE’RE GOING!’)
We wound our way through London and ended up at the gorgeous Landmark Hotel in Marylebone for afternoon tea. We were a bit early for our reservation so we grabbed a table in the Mirror Bar and indulged in some pre-tea cocktails and mocktails. I opted for the ‘Rather Refreshing’ which was a tasty mix of raspberries, elderflower cordial, apple juice and cranberry juice. Lucy got the ‘Berries Temptation’ and Ella went for a classic Aperol Spritz.
There was a sense of anticipation as we sipped our drinks as the hostess had mentioned that we had a reservation for 5. Now, maths has never been my strong suit but I felt fairly confident that there were only three of us in the car on the way over…
The mystery was soon revealed though with the arrivals of my friends Sophie and Tilda. I was thrilled to see them and so excited for the tea ahead as we made our way into the gorgeous glass atrium.
We got a fantastic table in the heart of it all with views of the piano player (you know you’re at an exceptional afternoon tea if there’s a live piano player!) and the champagne/tea bar.
What followed was one of the best afternoon teas I’ve had in London…and I’ve had a lot! The company was delightful, of course, but so were the sandwiches. We were a really easy-going group and only four out of five of us asked for alterations to the sandwich menu.
We happily dug into the sandwiches and tea – I went for the Winter Garden blend which was fab. Not all the girls knew one another (they were super sneaky and got in touch to arrange everything with Graham’s stealthy help) so it was fun to see these wonderful women I’m lucky to call my friends laughing and chatting together.
After eating as many sandwiches as we could we moved on to warm, fluffy scones and jam.
It’s little surprise that by the time they brought out the sweets we were all already sitting back in our chairs and needed a bit of a breather before diving in!
The blueberry macaron was my favourite and had the fun bonus of turning all of our mouths dark blue. The adorable mini hot chocolate mug was beautifully presented but the gelatinous base was not exactly a crowd pleaser…
We had made our way through dessert when suddenly the piano struck up ‘Happy Birthday’ and a lovely cupcake arrived with a flourish.
There was no way I was going to be able to eat another bite for probably the rest of the day (and I’m not a massive cake fan as it is – shocking, I know!) so I begged Sophie to take it home with her.
Stuffed and happy we sat enjoying the atmosphere and warm greenhouse feel for a while before heading out into the beautifully warm day.
But not without first marking the day with a photo op!
Look at my gorgeous friends. Love them!
Sophie headed off to catch the Cambridge Oxford Boat Race (which we (Cambridge) won! – I say ‘we’ loosely as Graham’s the one who went there, not me, lol) and Tilda, Lucy, Ella and I decided to walk off our post-tea drowsiness in nearby Regent’s Park.
The blooms have been absolutely beautiful in London the past few weeks so it was the perfect time for a leisurely stroll and some silly picture taking.
^ My new favourite ever picture of Tilda and I.
Eventually real life called us back and we said goodbye before heading off in different directions.
I spent the tube journey home feeling grateful for the friends that I’ve made here in London and the experiences we’ve shared in my four years here. It was so sweet of them to plan such a lovely afternoon and to treat me to such a wonderful tea (book in for yours here). I was a very lucky birthday girl!
If you’ve been hanging around these here Blonde In Grey parts for any length of time you’ll know that I have a special love…for the delicious delight that is Pizza. (The capital ‘P’ is intentional.)
London at Christmas is pure magic…
A brisk afternoon in my favourite park…