Restaurant Review: Ivy Kensington Brasserie


All photos courtesy of NHYM 2016.

Ivy Kensington Brasserie

96 Kensington High Street 


W8 4SG

0203 301 0500

Food: 4 stars

Design: 4.25 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Service: 4 stars

Value: 4.25 stars

Overall: 4. 25 stars

I was having lunch with a friend at Granger the other day, when she started moaning and complaining about the dire amount of lunch places in Notting Hill. ‘I’m so sick and tired of Granger and Daylesford!’ she moaned. It doesn’t help that we are in January and the most depressing day of the year was around the corner (and luckily we both survived D-Day, which was Monday January 4th). It is true that there are very few places in Notting Hill, once you’ve been through the triad of Granger/Daylesford/202. So, I was very excited to be invited by the Ivy Kensington Brasserie the other day, to try out their new outpost on High Street Kensington.


The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, an off-shoot of the very famous original Ivy, and its myriad of underlings; Ivy Marylebone, Ivy Chelsea, is now the latest of the Caprice Holdings Ivy Franchise which recently opened in December. Friends of friends who went during the opening weeks liked it so much that they went for New Year’s Eve. I dare say, that it’s my new favourite out of the franchise, although I have not been to the revamped Ivy (too far) and the Ivy Chelsea felt too big for me. I like my brasseries and this one is a perfect example of French- Brasserie-meets-British-old-school. I took one of my newly single friends who has just gotten out of a 15 year relationship and needed a little cheering up.


The Design 

I loved the design of the Ivy Kensington Brasserie. Like I said, it is French-Brasserie-meets-English-old-gentleman’s-club-in-the-middle-of-High-Street-Kensington. Perfect! It has marble floors, big white spheres of lighting and a flutter of origamis in flight, which just work. The thought of origamis flying on a ceiling could have been quite questionable, but in this case, it adds a lightness and playfulness to the room, which could have veered towards a heavy, old school brasserie. The room is cosy, even though the space is quite big and has multiple areas to sit in. We had a great view of the whole restaurant, spying on Piers Morgan sitting diagonally from us, and we spotted quite a few Notting Hillers and South Kenners that we knew and now have somewhere to meet in the middle.

Ivy Kensington Brasserie Menu NHYM

The Food

The menu had a very large selection of brasserie-style dishes from fish & chips for the Brits, to onion soup and moules-frites for the Frenchies. There is also a very alluring brunch menu with lots of avocado, which happens to be the food of the moment. We opted for a duck salad and tuna carpaccio as starters and the swordfish and dover sole as mains.


Duck salad. NHYM 2016. m

My five-spices duck salad was quite good, with bak choi, mache salad, and pomegranates, but my friend’s tuna carpaccio was a little flat. Since it is actually impossible to find reasonably priced fresh tuna in London, I can forgive the chef. But soon, the rest of meal made up for the tired tuna.

Ivy Kensington Brasserie Sole NHYM

Dover Sole. NHYM 2016.

My dover sole was great, meaty, but light, nicely seasoned with capers and lemon, it has recently become my new favourite dish. And at £18.50, this is great value, compared to the £42.00 Dover sole at the Arts Club, which isn’t actually any better.


Swordfish NHYM 2016.

My friend’s swordfish was also very satisfying, with both dishes tasting so good, that it was hard to believe that we were eating rather healthily (It is January after all). A hard thing to accomplish. To compensate for this goodie, goodie healthy meal, we had sides of Zucchini Fritti, which were a bit on the oily side, but which of course made them delicious and gave us a guilty pleasure.

The Desserts:  

Ivy Kensington Chocolate bomb 2 NHYM

Chocolate bombe. NHYM 2016.

All that healthy eating was soon forgotten when we ordered desserts. I ordered the chocolate bombe, and my friend ordered the Strawberry Shortcake. Both were a success. The chocolate bombe is a must-try for chocolate and caramel lovers. There is a ball of chocolate on an Ile Flotante, which opens up after hot, molten, chocolate sauce is poured over it, revealing vanilla ice cream, and snap, crackle, pop caramel inside. You’ve just got to try it. Divine.


Strawberry Shortcake. NHYM 2016. 

The strawberry shortcake was beautifully presented and equally as delicious that my friend was still dreaming about it the following day.

The Atmosphere

There was a great vibe and buzz the night we were there, with a pleasing crowd of varying generations, from 30 year olds to 60 year olds. Couples, families, friends all having dinner, conspiratorially chatting away. It caters to all groups and all ages, which makes for a very comfortable setting. I ran into friends I knew, making it feel clubbish, and the service was very friendly and young (mostly young women I noticed).


I particularly liked the design and the vibe, with an extensive enough menu that I will never get bored. The food is good, brasserie-style. It’s impossible for the food to be perfect  with such a vast menu, but if you find a favourite dish, I would stick to it. It is a great new addition to the neighborhood. I loved it so much that I have already made my next reservation. Now, the only problem is that if I liked it this much, reservations will get harder and harder to get, so don’t spread the word.




I was a guest of the Ivy Kensington Brasserie. Thank you again for a great dinner! xx

Social Commentary

London: Love it or Leave It

Notting Hill Photo 2016 NHYM

I was reading the BA High Life Magazine on my British Airways flight over the Christmas holidays and noted that London has become the number 1 Global Powerhouse City in the Global City Index 2016 based on the findings from the Jones Lang Lasalle Cities Research Center flagship publication, Globalisation and Competition: The New World of Cities. It is interesting to note that in this Index, London has overtaken New York to the top spot. There has always been a New York vs. London competition, but it has become much fiercer in recent years, with New York previously being the clear leader in the 90s. So where does that leave us? Here is the list of cities it ranked:

‘The global powerhouses*

1.London Great Britain
‘In a neck-and-neck race with New York, London’s muscle as a financial centre, property market honeypot, education hub and cultural trendsetter just give it the edge as the ultimate global powerhouse.’

2. New York USA
‘With one of the world’s strongest city brands, New York has the highest city GDP per capita anywhere on the planet. Shaping the world from fashion to finance, New York’s dynamism creates an unbreakable centrifugal force that’s both economic and cultural.’

3. Tokyo Japan
‘Currently booming as a destination for Asian tourists, Japan’s capital has the largest city economy in the world. With a low crime rate and excellent transport boosting its ranking, efficient, well-managed Tokyo is also the world’s safest megacity.’

4. Paris France
‘The world’s most beautiful metropolis remains the most cosmopolitan of continental capitals. Paris dominates France’s economy, while its leading universities help attract a higher proportion of graduate migrants than any other world city.’

5. Hong Kong SAR China
‘Its journey from factory town to global financial pivot, travel gateway and trendsetter has been complete for some time now. Hong Kong’s density also makes it super-efficient, with shorter commutes than in any of the other global powerhouses.’

6. Singapore Republic of Singapore
‘Widely considered the most liveable city in the Big Six, business-friendly Singapore also leads the group for the quality of its transport, communication and energy infrastructure. The city’s initially slow growth as a cultural centre is speeding up.’

*For more city rankings and further information, read on:


‘Is It Really Worth It?’

I am fascinated by London and used to be one of its biggest advocates, lobbyists and promoters. ‘It’s a beautiful, liveable city with green parks and gardens, top restaurants, diverse cultural activities, full of vibrancy, interesting and inspiring people, and an international community like no other,’ used to be my daily mantra. But lately, that enthusiasm has slowly wavered and waned alongside the frantic pace of £20,000 birthday parties, our over scheduled activities/playdates/birthday parties, its competitive educational system and its parents, the FOMO, and actually seeing what life would be like living somewhere else i.e.: in the sun, with my sangria at hand, right before a siesta. So, is it really worth it?

We all have one of those friends that has been living in London for decades and has been threatening to leave it ever since he/she arrived. But just last September, one of those friends actually took the plunge and did it: He uprooted his family and moved them to sunnier climes, swapping rain for siestas in the sun and the tube for sangrias by the water in the Balearics. He became the number one propagandist of ‘Let’s Leave London’ and one of his devotees asked me ‘Do you seriously think raising a child in London is better than raising one here where the sun shines everyday?’ she asked incredulously, eyes-wide-open, and jaw-dropping, after I declined the invitation to move to the Balearics. After I got over the fact that it was a slightly in-your-face rude statement, it did get me thinking about my current existence in London.

Of course, not everyone has the choice to leave London, but more and more people are heading out of the city for a better lifestyle. London, at its best, offers a cosmopolitan city with diverse cultural, financial and educational opportunities not found in many places in the world. At its worst, it is eye-poppingly expensive (£145,000 for two private school educations + full time nanny before taxes per year then top that off with holidays, food, mortgages and the pull of Net-a-Porter), it rains 106 days a year (just look out of the window today, that’s almost one out of every three days), and the global Superrich are slowly pushing away the middling-rich out of our neighbourhoods.

On top of that, my friends are heading an exodus out of London. First came the friend who left in September. In February, another one leaves, and one of my closest friends already has an exit plan for September 2017. They are leaving for lifestyle reasons, job reasons, or realising that for a 150 sqm flat in London you can get 350 sqm on the continent. Another acquaintance is just tired of London and its hectic pace ‘I can’t remember the last time I had a free weekend spending time with my husband and my children. It’s usually one activity or birthday after another.’ She has decided to move back to her home town for three months for a breather while her husband stays on and visits on the weekend. Other friends have been living ‘double lives,’ where a husband works during the week in one city, and comes back to London on the weekends. Eventually, that arrangement usually has to end. And hopefully not in divorce. Soon, I will be left with a flight to catch every weekend to see those exiled friends.

In my daydreams, I realise that we could easily quit London and retire in a beach hut on an island in the Gulf of Thailand. But while my love affair with London and its pastel, Grade II listed houses, restaurant offerings and private gardens is not over, it has certainly hit a bumpy spot. Just like any relationship. It’s about time I recapture my love for it, or move on.

What are your thoughts on London? Are you a Lover or a Leaver? What are your favourite parts of London? 






Restaurant Review: Sexy Fish


All photos are NHYM apart from this one, generously borrowed from the restaurant’s website. NHYM 2016.

Sexy Fish

Berkely Square

London W1J 6BR

0203 764 2000

Design: 4.5 stars

Food: 3 stars

Service: 3.5 stars

Atmosphere: 4 stars

Overall: 3.75 stars 

‘I have never seen a restaurant whose ethos is so clearly and comprehensively, so preeningly and unapologetically: ‘Fuck you, I’m rich and I want a golden cave and servants. I want a pony and all the hookers I can strangle. I want a pyramid of cocaine and an Audi -Quattro.’ It is like being punched in the face by Abu Dhabi.’

– quoted from the Spectator Review 28/11/15

After reading a review like that, well, you’ve just got to see it with your own eyes. Sexy Fish opened last year as one of the hottest new restaurants in town, trying to steal the celebrity limelight away from Chiltern Firehouse, and has seen everything from Popstars (Cheryl ex-Cole, ex-Versini), Models (Kate Moss at the opening), Rock Royalty (the Jaggers were there 2 days ago for Georgia May’s 24th), to a private party full of politicians including dear old David (Cameron). Rita Ora sang at its opening party and VIP keys were handed out in advance. All ingredients to make it the latest trendsetter in the restaurant world.


Bronze cast Damien Hirst statue on the bar. NHYM 2016.

It is the latest venture by Richard Caring (RC for this post) and his ever expanding restaurant-empire-cum-restaurant-chain. He is trying to take over the Mayfair restaurant scene and he is certainly making a statement. Firstly, we’ve got to address that oxymoronic name: Sexy Fish. A fish will never be sexy, but RC manages to make his restaurant pretty sexy-slutty: sexy bronze mermaids by Damien Hirst at the bar, climbing crocodiles by Frank Gehry, a parterre of onyx from Iran, and an actual waterfall behind his bar. Ok, completely over-the-top ostentatious, but you’ve got to love it. Downstairs in the private room are two glowing aquariums with multitudes of glow-in-the-dark fish ready for an after-party.


Main dining room NHYM 2016. 

The Design

The dining room is art-deco, brasserie style with a large crocodile on the back wall designed by Frank Gehry, whom you will recall did the fish sculpture next to The Hotel Arts in Barcelona. It is quite a large room where you can scan your neighbours easily, with Matisse-inspired patterns on the ceilings in burgundy and gold.


The very friendly bartender. NHYM 2016.

But the bar is by far my favourite part of the restaurant. It is large, sexy and is framed by overhanging white delicately sculpted fish above and blue mermaids on either side and yes, there is a waterfall in the back. When we arrive at the touristy hour (i.e. anytime before 8pm), there isn’t much atmosphere and it is largely catering tourists. But by the time we leave, the bar is buzzing, the vibe is cool, and the DJ has started spinning. This is really the time to show up.


The Menu. NHYM 2016.

The Menu & the Food

The menu reads like many of the Asian-fusion/Japanese restaurants that first emerged in the 90’s starting with Nobu and still keep coming (Kurobuta). There is nothing creatively new on this menu, it follows a tried-and-tested formula of Nobu-Zuma-Roka-Novikov dishes. We order a bunch of sharing plates including the yellowtail sashimi, the Sexy Fish roll, tuna tartare, maple glazed pork belly skewers, duck salad and the famous Miso Glazed Chilean Seabass.


Miso Seabass and Maple-Glazed pork belly. NHYM 2016. 

The food is unfortunately a let-down. It all looks beautiful, sounds beautiful and should be beautiful, but sadly, there is something missing. It isn’t bad, but falls flat compared to the other restaurants I have aforementioned. Usually, when you go to Nobu/Zuma/Roka, you are enlivened by the tastes and combination of flavours, but not even the famed Miso Seabass could do that for me. The only standout dish for me was the maple glazed pork belly skewer which melted in your mouth and was perfectly sweet and salty. The rest was ‘good’ but unfortunately quite forgettable.

The service gets some low marks just because we were ‘evicted’ before we could order the molten chocolate cake which we wanted to try. Next time.


Sexy Fish Kitchen. NHYM 2016.

The Verdict

We managed to spend 4 hours at Sexy Fish, which meant that something worked. Sexy Fish combines the right ‘menu,’ the right location, the right brasserie-style design and the right amount of slebs to make it a success. The food isn’t what you’re after here, the main attraction is the bar and of course the people-watching. It’s a fun, lively spot that starts to get going around 10pm, and if I were to go again, I’d probably skip the food and head straight to the bar for a martini while I ogle all the hedge-funders and their mistresses for entertainment purposes. After all, it’s cheaper than flying all the way to Dubai.





Sexy Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Social Commentary

New Year, New Collaboration with Scott Dunn, luxury travel operator


Happy New Year 2016!

I hope everyone had resting, relaxing and peaceful holidays! As we all know, London can be overwhelming, exhausting and purely draining.

It’s a new year and I am ready for new beginnings. I have decided to change the direction of the blog and direct it towards a more travel and lifestyle blog, meaning more travel and restaurant reviews. This year will be all about travel. My children have reached a state of development called the I-PAD-Ready stage: they are able to sit in front of an I-PAD for hours on end without whining/crying/tantruming, which equals happy-long-haul-travelling.

So, it is with great pleasure that I am collaborating with Scott Dunn, a luxury travel operator, to look after my travel ‘needs.’

The kids may be I-PAD-Ready, but once we have overcome the flight-challenge, I need to make sure they are entertained while I get some rest from the London-treadmill and this is where Scott Dunn comes in. They originally started as a chalet operator in 1986, but soon grew to become luxury travel agents, creating worldwide tailor-made holidays and most recently have started running their own kids clubs. They assure me that their kids clubs are like no others, ensuring professional staff with age-sensitive activities in five star locations: basically, something to please the whole family.

After they approached me last year, I perused their website and saw that many of the hotels on their website were child-friendly ones that I had already been recommended by friends including Soneva Kiri in Thailand, Verdura Resort in Sicily, Carlisle Bay in Antigua and Anassa in Cyprus.

So, we are both delighted to start our collaboration next month, when they have organised our February half-term family holiday. I am really thrilled to be working with them and cannot wait for our first trip together to NIYAMA in the Maldives!




Scott Dunn is organising my trip to the Maldives in February, giving us a special offer on the hotel rooms.