Feeling fancy? Then you might appreciate The Ivy on the Square Edinburgh, one of the chicest spots in the city…
It’s not every day you get to eat at the Ivy. Right? But today I’m not talking the celebrity haunt in London, however, I’m talking about the Ivy on the Square Edinburgh which is chic, stylish, and a very welcome addition to the city’s dining scene. And as I found out, it’s the perfect brunch spot.
Check out my comprehensive guide to the Ivy on the Square below…
Why is the Ivy famous?
To say the Ivy’s reputation precedes itself is a bit of an understatment.
The iconic restaurant in London is the crown jewel of all the celebrity haunts, and it must literally glitter with all the stardust that has rubbed off on it over the years. It’s the hangout of the rich and the famous and it’s synonymous with the old school glamour. Everyone from Madonna to Princess Diana has dined at the Ivy in London over the years – and that’s before you dive into some of the legendary Hollywood actors who have frequented it. In short, the Ivy is a pretty big deal.
So it was already an iconic name when it arrived in Edinburgh a few years ago. That meant it also conjured up lots of ready-made images in my mind. Fancy. Posh. Expensive. Maybe not for ordinary folks like… me? Anyone else get the intimidated by fancy places? I’m holding my hands up and saying that I sometimes do. Even if you don’t, you might have some burning questions about the Ivy on the Square Edinburgh that you want to know. Is the Ivy posh? Is there a dress code at the Ivy? Am I allowed to wear jeans to the Ivy? Is it going to cost me a third of my next pay cheque? Et cetera.
I want to answer all of these questions of the course of this post. My hope is that this will enable you to get over the intimidation factor – if you have it – and have an amazing time. Because as I found, it’s not as posh as you may think…
If you want to read more about Edinburgh you may enjoy these posts…
- Your complete Edinburgh Fringe guide
- Halloween in Edinburgh: 20 spooky things to do in Edinburgh
- My review of the cat café in Edinburgh
- Exploring Bruntsfield: brunch spots and boutiques
The history of the Ivy in Edinburgh
Before we dive in, let me give you a little bit of background information on the Ivy on the Square. The Ivy first appeared in Edinburgh as a pop-up restaurant during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival all the way back in 2010. However, the Ivy on the Square restaurant opened a few years ago in 2017 – and it’s charmed the socks off visitors ever since.
Who owns the Ivy Edinburgh? Well, the building is owned by Standard Life. However, the Ivy is on a 25-year lease so let’s just say it’ll be here for a while! This is the first Ivy restaurant in Scotland, although there’s now one in Glasgow too.
What chef owns the Ivy? Well, I’m not quite sure I’d phrase it as that, but the kitchen at the Ivy on the Square in Edinburgh is run by executive chef Sean Burbidge, who is formerly head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s London restaurant, Pétrus. Guess they’ve got a swear box then.
So now you know all the important details, let’s dive in!
When did I visit the Ivy on the Square?
I visited the Ivy on the Square in January last year. It was a late birthday present for my mum. We have a habit of getting afternoon tea in various places in Edinburgh – most often Harvey Nicholls. However, this time around we wanted to go somewhere different and after a little bit of deliberation we ended up choosing the Ivy on the Square in Edinburgh.
This was one of the last trips I had before we all went into lockdown last year, which has further elevated It in my eyes. Let’s be honest: I spent the next six months in my scruffs (elasticated waistbands ahoy!) so the opportunity to be a little fancy for an hour or so was very much welcome.
Where is the Ivy in Edinburgh?
The Ivy is known as the Ivy on the Square in Edinburgh. That may give you a little bit of a clue as to where it’s located. You can find the Ivy just off St Andrews Square in Edinburgh. That means it’s just behind Princes Street and really only about a ten-minute walk from Waverley Station. It’s also nearby to lots of other landmarks that you might be visiting on a trip to Edinburgh: George Street, the Edinburgh Playhouse, Harvey Nicholls, etc. Basically, if you’re planning a shopping day in Edinburgh then the Ivy is located in the perfect spot – near to the shops and all of the main transport links. Win win!
What’s the décor like at the Ivy?
I’ve mentioned in some of my other posts that I’m a sucker for interior styling. And the Ivy on the Square certainly doesn’t disappoint. From the outside you’ll be greeted with sleek glass walls with the name of the restaurant lit up in glinting gold lettering above the doorway. The entrance is fringed by stylish greenery and some tables and chairs for all those rare occasions when it’s warm enough to eat outside in Scotland. Clue: not very often.
You’ll be greeted at the door and give your name and reservation before you can proceed – the opulent insides of the Ivy lie tantalisingly hidden behind a curtain, which only gives a tiny hint of what’s to come. We were directed to the bar to wait for our table to be ready and it’s then you can see just how gorgeous the interior décor at the Ivy really is.
I love the colour palette. It combines rich jewel shades of blue and green and combines them with glints of gold. There are cosy booths laid out on the bottom floor in lavish mustard and orange tones, wooden floors, and tiles, all overlooked by large geometric glass lighting the size of goldfish bowls. If you want one word, stunning is probably it.
Does the Ivy have a dress code?
It’s the question everyone wants to know apparently…
The Ivy describes its restaurants as “sophisticated yet approachable, casual yet polished” yet I’m not sure that would fill me with enough confidence to rock up on my trainers!
Saying that, I don’t think we showed up overtly smart. I remember my sister whispering that she was hungover and I was wearing a jumper that has the lofty status of a being a regular piece of workwear. And now that I think of it, I was also wearing jeans! Blue jeans at that. But, gasp, can you wear jeans to the Ivy? Let’s take a minute to dive into the dress code…
The Ivy Edinburgh dress code
Your definitive dress code for the Ivy coming right up… or not.
Actually, there doesn’t seem to be a strict dress code for the Ivy in Edinburgh. I think it’s a bit of a different vibe at the original Ivy restaurant in Covent Garden, but there’s nothing on the website about there being a dress code at the Ivy on the Square. So there it is.
With that said, I would stay on the safe side and go smart casual if you can. If you wear something along the lines of jeans, blazer and a nice top you’re not going to be worried about not being dressed up enough, right? That’s my overthinking brain anyway.
Can you wear trainers at the Ivy in Edinburgh? Again, as I said, there’s nothing on the website and from everything I’ve read it’s OK to wear trainers. I will add the caveat that there’s nothing definitive online, so just bear that in mind.
The Ivy Edinburgh menu
The menu at the Ivy. Let me tell you: the menu looks like a work of art in itself – like it’s been pulled out of a painting in the National Gallery of Scotland just down the road. Elements of the design wouldn’t look out of place in a Titian painting.
But I’m rambling on now. Let’s get to the important part, like what’s ON the menu. I was quite surprised by the fact that they had a little bit of everything on the menu at the Ivy in Edinburgh. I knew they did afternoon tea, but I was surprised to find out that they had a brunch and breakfast menu too. Brunch at the Ivy? Tell me more…
Brunch at Ivy on the Square
We arrived at the Ivy thinking that we’d probably order afternoon tea. However, we were far too enticed by the brunch menu and that’s what we ending up ordering from. When I say brunch menu… this is far from the standard brunch menu. It’s vast and includes everything from your favourite brunch classics to some slightly more unexpected treasures such as lobster linguine, cheese soufflé and whisky steak tartare. Yum!
I ended up being entirely predictable and ordering [drumroll] eggs benedict. Honestly, when do I not order eggs benny! It’s my favourite brunch item and unsurprisingly the Ivy more than did it justice. However, we didn’t stop there as we also decided to order desserts, because why not? We had a delicious crème brulee to share – which had the perfect caramelised sugar crust – along with some mini chocolate truffles that went down far too easily.
Shout out of the peach bellini cocktails as well – they always go down a treat!
It’s worth mentioning that the Ivy on the Square as has a full vegan menu – and a vegetarian menu – for you to order from. So, all in all, you’re pretty well catered for I’d say.
The Ivy Edinburgh breakfast menu
Saturday, Sunday, and bank holidays 9am-11am
View the breakfast menu here
The Ivy Edinburgh brunch menu
Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays 11am-4pm
View the brunch menu here
The Ivy Edinburgh vegetarian and vegan menu
Saturday, 11am-close, Sunday, 11am-close
View the vegetarian and vegan menu here
The Ivy Edinburgh a la carte menu
Monday to Friday, 11.30am until close
Saturday, 4pm until close, Sunday 4pm until close
View the a la carte menu here
Service at the Ivy on the Square
I was pleasantly surprised at the service here. Sometimes at the more upmarket restaurants the service can be a little bit… cool? You know, like smiling or being remotely friendly is like the most tragic thing you could ever do.
This wasn’t the case at all at the Ivy on the Square in Edinburgh, however, in fact it may even have been the opposite. My mum actually commented at one point that the staff were perhaps a little too attentive. I don’t know about that – maybe we just lucked out with a table that happened to be in their eye-line or something – but I wasn’t complaining. We definitely didn’t have to wait for anything over the course of our boozy brunch.
The Ivy Edinburgh reviews
There are some reviews out there in the wild for the Ivy on the Square. I don’t usually care too much about newspaper reviews however – it’s often tricky to get a sense of whether the reviewer aligns with what you’d think, right?
The Scotsman was moderately impressed… and although they did comment on some teething troubles this was back around the opening time in 2017 however so you would hope they’d sorted that out now! The Herald was not a fan, but I don’t agree with anything they said in their review so we can just brush that one aside. On Tripadvisor the Ivy on the Square gets four out of five stars and most of the reviews jump off the page with enthusiasm – and that’s what I’d be more inclined to pay attention to. If in doubt, I would give always give something a try rather than listening to the naysayers. But that’s me.
What is the best restaurant in Edinburgh?
All of this raving about the Ivy on the Square begs question: is the Ivy on the Square the best restaurant in Edinburgh? And if it’s not, what is? Well, with the The Kitchin, the Witchery by the Castle, Dishoom… there is some very stiff competition.
However, I was certainly impressed by the Ivy on the Square overall. It’s got the whole package: great location, stylish décor, attentive service, and delicious food. And that’s from someone who only had the brunch menu! Who knows what I’d say if I ordered from the main menu or worked my way through the entire cocktail menu…
Far from it being a restaurant for only the most special of all special occasions, I actually found the Ivy pretty accessible. Yes, it’s fancy, so it’s not somewhere I would be frequently every day of the week. I also think going there for dinner is probably out my price range unless I had an extra big birthday coming up – and that’s not for a while yet.
But saying that, I did like the fact that you can go to the Ivy and soak up the vibes… for the price of brunch and a couple of cocktails. In my mind, that isn’t too shabby at all. You may even bump into someone (almost) famous in the loos…