In atmosphere terms, the Ivy in Glasgow outperforms the Ivy in Edinburgh. Although the decor is faux, a reference back to the original Covent Garden establishment, the former has taken over one of those grand old bank buildings, while the latter occupies a developer’s infill block.

And hand it to the Ivy, it clearly spends a heap on clever, state-of-the-art interior designers.

Theatricality is the heart of the rolled-out Ivy chain, a setting that serves up dollops of Theatreland luxury, given a contemporaneous twist.

Framed prints stacked upon prints cover the walls, big on bold diagonals and serpentine lines. The tiled floor introduces a diamond lattice of pearl, black, and powder room pink.

The women’s lavatory is a Barbara Cartland riot of frou-frou pink marble and onyx ware, otherwise the keynote colours on this upper tier are 1930s-style shades of orange and green.

Any Modernist touches build on the Ivy leitmotifs: leaded partitions with obscured glass, brass tabletops, kick plates, and light switches, the obligatory pot plants. Pretension is part of the package; tea pots here are the nostalgic silver sort, but with teabags, not leaves, inside them. If faux decor doesn’t bother you and eating out for you is all about seeing, and being seen, you might enjoy the Ivy.

Service is ridiculously quick, and although the staff are so unrelentingly cheery and chatty – one suspects that they have been trained to be so – I sense that unless you’re at the bar packing away pricy cocktails, they’re under pressure to turn tables over with alacrity. We’ve barely taken off our coats when the starters are set down.

This one is described as ‘roast pumpkin tortellini- Ironbark pumpkin purée, grated black truffle, Amaretti crumb, sage and a light cheese sauce’.

The tortellini are badly shaped, producing thick, hard folds of stodgy uncooked dough at the base.

They’re tepid, their prissy foam dissolves in seconds, their slimy filling coats the roof of the mouth like Dairylea cheese spread. Fried sage leaves are the only good thing on the plate. The other starter centres on Laverstoke park buffalo mozzarella, which despite being organic is one of the dullest tasting, most rubbery cheeses I know. Its purity is trashed by the addition of a few leaves of artichoke that smell like an over-used deep fat fryer, a few nasturtium leaves, a couple of wafer-thin slices of hard, gritty, unripe pear. The chef effort required to put these dishes must be negligible.

Hard on their heels come the main courses. ‘Monkfish and prawn Keralan curry with jasmine rice, coconut “yoghurt”, coriander and sweet potato crisps’ is a travesty. Emirates Airline would serve you a better meal in Economy Class.

Three midget monkfish pieces, three vapid prawns, a lime that’s been singed but yields no juice, greasy crisps of the standard you’d buy in a packet, and rice so poor, gummy and tasteless, you might take it for boil-in-the-bag.

I’m amazed that they’ve made this anaemic Iberico pork cutlet so flavourless. Has it been steamed?

At any rate this specimen is an affront to its prestigious name. Its gravy tastes like stale Parmesan and wine with bits of taste-bypassed ceps blitzed through it. No wonder the watercress is slumped in wilted depression on the plate.

And these are disastrous ‘creamed’ potatoes, sticky, sour, flavour-challenged. These slices of green apple taste as if they’ve been sitting in water for hours.

The second sauce, said to be Calvados and cream, tastes like a blend of Caramac, dried herbs and salt. If you served it

in a works canteen, it’d get a mixed response.

Now I’m delighted we’re being raced through our meal: I can’t wait to get out. But to tick the final box we try the ice cream sundae- acceptable meringue, raspberries, shortbread and a warm raspberry sauce and a rum baba that doesn’t have sufficient whipped cream to cope with being drenched in alcohol.

The theatre here at the Ivy is comedy, but the joke is on the public.

Personally, I just don’t see the funny side of being palmed off with poor food sold at a brass neck price. Maybe you do.

The Ivy, 106 Buchanan Street, Glasgow 0141 378 1200

Food: 3/10

Service: 6/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Value for money: 3/10


Joanna Blythman, Guild of Food Writers Food Writer of the Year 2018