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Review of The Ivy Asia Brighton

The Ivy Asia Brighton

There is no doubt that The Ivy Asia Brighton on Ship Street is the most beautiful restaurant in the city, writes Nick Mosley.

The interiors veritably drip decadent Oriental pastiche with a brand-signature majestic backlit marble floor that literally even puts the opulence of the Royal Pavilion in the shade. Hands-down, there is no better theatrical backdrop for dining to be had on the south coast.

Over the years, I’ve eaten at The Ivy Asia in Brighton, Guildford and London; and I have to say that the food offering is consistently very good. In my mind, it’s considerably better than their The Ivy Collection brasseries that are equally an explosion of stunning interiors but – to my palate and expectations – a bit ‘meh’ when it comes to the menu itself.

With my Argus hat on, I’ve always got a keen eye on Sussex restaurant offers and deals. Fine dining – whether at an independent or a multiple – is all well and good but it’s increasingly – and understandably from both the diner’s and the restaurateur’s perspective – become a treat rather than a regular experience. Hence many venues – whether independents or multiples – are offering entry-level menus to keep the cashflow rolling.

When I clocked that The Ivy Asia was offering a a two-course menu for £22.50, my ears pricked up like a bunny in headlights so I was straight on the dog-and-bone to a tourism colleague who I knew is also a fan of the venue.

When we arrived on the dot of twelve on a Friday in early May, I was somewhat surprised to see we were pretty much the first bums on seats as – in my experience – the restaurant is always packed. Hands-up, it’s been a good six months since I’ve eaten at The Ivy Asia in Brighton but it did come as a bit of a shock to cast my eye around the glorious dining room and see it empty. That said the venue did slowly but surely fill up to what I’d guesstimate was around 75% capacity of the ground floor by the time we left.

Spiced avocado salad at The Ivy Asia Brighton

The ‘Taste of Asia’ two course menu is available all day on Mondays and Tuesdays, and lunchtime to late afternoon from Wednesday to Friday. There’s a choice of four starters and four mains; sides and desserts are extra. From the get-go, I think its important to relay that you need to ask for this specific menu; as the ladies on our neighbouring table that we chatted with reflected, the service team don’t appear to freely offer it.

I immediately dived into an aperitif classic dry gin martini with a twist; a faultlessly prepared drink. To accompany our lunch, we ordered a bottle of the house rosé – a rather jolly and delightfully easy to drink Italian wine that was the perfect choice as the sun streamed through the restaurant windows and lit up the dining room.

And so to the food. Keeping it light – I had another restaurant review that evening – I opted for the avocado salad with a punchy dressing of tomato salsa, coriander and green chilli with joyous pearls of masago arare rice. My dining partner dived into a much heartier portion of three skewers of grilled, moist chicken thigh, glazed with spicy Szechuan spice and accompanied by pickled ginger and chives. There were no complaints from her side so I’d take that as high praise.

Prawn and tamarind curry at The Ivy Asia Brighton

Our mains were delicious and hearty. An impressive, deeply flavourful curry of juicy – not floury – prawns with ample creamy coconut and tamarind gravy and just the right kick of heat. My companion’s grilled chicken with peanut and toasted sesame was an absolute triumph; again, she relayed that she’d be coming back for more.

I have to mention our primary server – Davide – really knew his stuff and clearly has hospitality in his soul. Unfortunately, particularly in multiple restaurants, this tends to be the exception rather than the rule but his passion for service and conversation genuinely shone brightly.

The Ivy Asia does have a good range of options for vegans and vegetarians however in terms of dietaries I would err on the side of caution. That said – despite the kitchen sticking allergen skewers into plates – one dish was placed on our table – not by Davide, I hasten to add – that didn’t appear to meet a dietary requisite. When questioned, there was just a shrug and ‘yeah, its fine’, which turned out to be wrong. That’s not good.

The Ivy restaurant group are masters of the upsell so always bear in mind that sides are at additional cost. If you’re brunching or lunching then the ‘Taste of Asia’ menu delivers great value without sides but for a more hearty meal then the bill can start to stack up with extras. Realistically, the £22.50 promotional menu is likely to be closer to £40 with a glass of wine and a side or dessert.

All-in-all – even with the caveats mentioned above – I find it hard to fault The Ivy Asia when it comes to flavours and portions; this is fantastic, well-cooked food in a beautiful dining space and it always proves to be a very memorable dining experience.

Nick Mosley

The Ivy Asia, 51 Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AF

01273 752 222 •


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