Cost – £18.95 plus 12.5% service charge added automatically (July 2019)
Parking and Access – Parking in the centre of Cambridge is not easy and is definitely not cheap! The nearest car park to the Ivy is probably the multi-story Grand Arcade car park. It is not even possible to park nearby with a blue badge as the centre of Cambridge is pedestrians only between 10:00 and 4:00. There are two steps up to get in to the building. Also, the only toilets I found were down a lot of stairs and along passages. I did not see a lift anywhere. Although it is possible there is a solution for disabled access to the toilets, I did not see it.
Background – My friend and I have been intending to have Afternoon Tea at The Ivy since it opened in Cambridge. It has taken a while, but at last we were both able to make it at the same time!
The Ivy is found in Trinity Street near the centre of Cambridge. It is a brasserie with many branches around the country. The branch in Cambridge is large with a big bar down one side and many tables. However, it was very quiet when we went with only a few tables in use.
Contents – One rectangular sandwiches each (marinated cucumber and dill), one open sandwich (smoked salmon with cream cheese and chives on rye bread) and one brioche roll (truffled chicken). Two medium sized fruit scones each, a small dish of strawberry jam, a small dish of strawberries and a small dish of clotted cream. A mini raspberry cheesecake, a small crème brulee doughnut and a chocolate and salted caramel mousse. A pot of tea.
Options Available – The only option available is to add Champagne to the Afternoon Tea.
Comments – On arrival at The Ivy there is a sort of reception desk outside the main doors. We gave our name here and were taken in to the restaurant and shown to a table.
The table was laid with round white plates with a line around them, topped with a linen napkin with an Ivy motif on it,
topped with the Afternoon Tea menu. There was a heavy metal knife and fork and a glass each.
As we sat down at the table we were asked if we would like some water. We said yes and were asked if we wanted still water or sparkling. I wasn’t quick enough to realise this meant a bottle of mineral water that we would be charged extra for. We chose still water at a cost of £3.75 for the bottle.
The waiter returned to ask if we had chosen our drinks. I chose breakfast tea whilst my companion asked for a cappuccino coffee. The tea arrived in a nice heavy metal teapot with a metal milk jug. There was plenty of tea for one person and it was of a good strength.
The tea was made with tea bags.
The cappuccino was topped with an ivy leaf motif!
The Afternoon Tea arrived quickly on two cake stands. The sandwiches and cakes were on a three-tier cake stand with round white and golden yellow coloured plates.
Whilst the scones, jam and cream were on a smaller two-tier spindle stand with shiny metal plates.
The sandwiches were on the lower two layers of the bigger stand – one layer each. They were freshly made. The marinated cucumber was very thinly sliced and was much nicer than we expected, having been unsure about the margination. The smoked salmon could have been a bit more generous but was tasty. However, our absolute favourite was the truffle chicken brioche which was delicious and was also well filled.
The scones were a small medium size and were warmed up. They were nice and fresh and tasted really good.
Unfortunately, there was nowhere near enough of either the jam or the clotted cream for four scones.
We asked for more of each. Eventually we were given a second dish of jam but no clotted cream appeared. We asked again and were told we could not have any more!! We offered to pay for an extra dish and were then told by the waiter that the manager had told him that they had run out in the kitchen! This was as other people in the room were still being served with cream. It was 3:30 in the afternoon in a restaurant that would be open into the evening as well and there was a Sainsburys just around the corner! We were surprised and rather taken aback. I believe this is the first time in 159 reviews that we have been outright refused extra cream.
We did take it up with the manager when we finished but he just told us there was no more in the kitchen.
Finally, we came to the cake layer. We both started with the crème brulee doughnut as we thought that would be our least favourite (we always leave our favourite until last). It was really good – much nicer than we expected! It was light and tasty. Then we went for the raspberry cheesecake. This was not a cheesecake at all. It was a mini square tart with a bit of cheesecake type filling topped with fresh raspberries. It would have been much nicer if it had been a piece of proper cheesecake. However, it was not bad at all.
Finally, we came to the chocolate and salted caramel mousse. This was intriguing as it was in a little dish and was in the form of a graduate’s mortar board hat! It was very cleverly made and looked brilliant. On closer examination, the hat was made from a chocolate ball sitting in a layer of mousse so that only the top half showed. This was topped with a flat piece of chocolate to make the board and a small string of liquorice to create the tail!
Inside the chocolate ball was the salted caramel which was absolutely delicious. It had little crispy bits in otherwise runny salted caramel sauce. Wonderful! We both really enjoyed it and declared it to definitely be our favourite.
Service was pleasant. However, it was spoilt a bit by the problem with the clotted cream. The waiter serving us was reasonably attentive and checked we were ok. However, he was obviously expected to try to up-sale, particularly on drinks and I find that a bit annoying. A 12.5% service charge was added automatically to the bill, which was too much. I would expect that in the top London hotels but not in a Cambridge restaurant.