I love brunch. I mean, I really, really love brunch. I'm starting to consider myself a self-confessed brunch addict. This only recenty dawned on me when every Friday afternoon in the office, I'm met with the question; 'Brunching this weekend?' and more often than not, the answer is, yes. In fact, I could quite happily eat eggs, avocado or pancakes for every meal. Thus, it seemed only right for me to embrace this label and round-up my favourite brunch spots around the Bristol and Bath area in this series; 'The Brunch Diaries'.
First stop... The Ivy Brasserie, Bath!
The Ivy has long been known as an iconic hot-spot for celebs in London and I always fancied the idea of going, particularly with the hope of bumping into someone from the Made in Chelsea cast back in the day. However, being a key fixture on the London restaurant scene and a little bit on the steeper price point - it has never been somewhere I've had the chance to visit. So, when The Ivy Brasserie was born and rolled out across the country, I was of course, delighted! The Ivy Brasserie in Bristol's Clifton was actually the first to open outside of London - fate? I think so! Branches have now opened across the south-west, including Bath, Exeter and Cheltenham. I have visited both the Bath and Bristol restaurants on a number of occasions and have never been disappointed. I'm sure the entire menu is delicious but as such a dedicated Bruncher, I always turn to the 'Weekend Brunch' menu which is served on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from 11am - 4pm. Including both traditional breakfast dishes and hearty options such as their famous shepherd's pie, the menu is extensive and has something for everyone. This is ideal because not everyone loves brunch as much as me, sadly.
The Ivy has many pros for me. One being that they really take the meal seriously, offering a decent 5 hour slot to get your brunch fix. There is nothing more heart-breaking for me than rushing to leave the house before 10am on a weekend (even for brunch purposes), so the longer serving hours are a huge plus!
Although the Brasserie is more affordable and casual than the real deal Ivy, there is still very much an element of something special. With the almost sky-high ceilings, lavish walls and art deco atmosphere, the Ivy Brasserie is worth a visit for these elements alone. Despite the elaborate setting, the relaxing Sunday afternoon brunch vibes are still present and have no fear, you're definitely not out of place wearing jeans!
My friend and I began our leisurely brunch in the Bath restaurant by ordering a Strawberry & Vanilla Soda each. A blend of strawberry, fruits & vanilla with soda water, this drink is SO deliciously refreshing and sweet in equal measures. At £5.95 a go, it is certainly not your basic lime and soda job but I would say, it is definitely worth it. You can really tell it has been carefully curated by their talented bar staff. It is also very 'Instagrammable', which as we know, is important these days. As someone who tends to cringe at the constant desire society has to take photos of our food, even I couldn't resist getting a snap of the pleasant mint and strawberry garnish. There is nothing I love more than a boozy brunch but I certainly did not miss it on this occasion and was perfectly satisfied with my sensible mocktail.
When it comes to food at the Ivy, I have actually become somewhat of a creature of habit. I just can't resist their quintessentially British Eggs Benedict and this trip was no different - shock. Traditional in every way, the Eggs Benedict is served with pulled honey roast ham on toasted English muffins, two poached hen's eggs, a rich and creamy hollandaise sauce, watercress and the piéce de résistance in my eyes, is the thick cut chips. Believe me, this is such a game changer and thanks to this indulgent extra, the portions are very generous. So often brunch portions can be miniscule which is such as pet hate of mine. Surely combining breakfast and lunch should mean double the portions, if anything?
Although it is a relatively simple dish, it can easily go very wrong. At the Ivy, the eggs are poached to perfection and when the yolks burst, they drift into the buttery hollandaise sauce, which is plentiful but doesn't drown the dish. The chips are everything they should be: golden, crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle and perfectly seasoned. If ham isn't for you, the salmon or avocado alternatives are also great choices.
My friend opted for the roast beef sandwich which is accompanied by caramelised onions, horseradish cream, red wine sauce and thick cut chips. The red wine sauce is more gravy-like and served in an individual jug on the side. This is something I haven't seen elsewhere and really makes the dish stand out. What I love about the Ivy Brasserie is that it's very much, 'tradition meets luxe' - this means you can feel like royalty in the wonderful surroundings but still dip your chips in gravy with no shame! My friend is also guilty of being a meal repeater and has ordered this sandwich on more than one occasion. I can confirm it looks amazing and might even tempt me away from my old friend Eggs Benedict next time.
The Ivy Bath Brasserie, 39 Milsom Street, Bath, Somerset, BA1 1DS