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The Black Ivy
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The Black Ivy
4 Alvanley Terrace,,
City of Edinburgh,
0131 564 1901

I was recently invited for lunch at the new Black Ivy, formerly The Links Hotel in Bruntsfield. The name resonated with me, was it somehow related to the famous chain?  I asked the proprietor Billy Lowe, previously owner of Le Monde and the Angel’s Share, who explained the name comes from the Ivy League, an inter-college athletic conference which has taken place in the USA since 1954.

The Black Ivy is designed to be a restaurant, hotel, local pub and hopefully, says Billy, a neighbourhood institution where people gather for brunches, lunches, fun, pints and celebrations.  

I can see this happening as the venue is welcoming, friendly and has some fascinating features. There are 27 chandeliers from different houses in Europe, a floor made from American railway wood and wooden floor made from railway wood carriages aimed at the transportation of soldiers during world war 2, copper beer tanks, Scottish photography, a ‘hidden’ graffiti painted by a well- known Australian artist and a ping pong table that changes into a work table.

Our dining table is marble and the menu is what you would expect from a neighbourhood eatery but with a strong focus on suppliers. A pastry chef is planned for in-house cakes and pastries. I decided to go for a flat iron steak with fries and my friend chose leek and potato soup and a Caesar salad. The medium rare steak was tender and cooked skilfully; the béarnaise sauce meanwhile was unique as the chef had added a touch of star anise. I appreciated the sweetness of the vine tomatoes but the batter of the onion rings was too rich for me.

My friend was quite pleased with her soup which was left chunky to make it more rustic and to give some texture on the palate. The Caesar salad was topped with two poached eggs, the runny yolks mixed with the green leaves and the char-grilled chicken so well that the dressing wasn’t needed.

The Black Ivy is very versatile and the attention to detail and the passion injected by owner Billy Lowe makes is well worth a visit. Do you need further motivation? Jazz brunches on Sunday!

(E. Vanello)

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