With the UK casual dining sector going through a challenging period driven by cost pressures, we thought it was a good time to see how the fine dining sector was coping with industry challenges.

It’s no secret that traditional fine dining filled with starched white tablecloths, fussy food and fussy service has been on the decline for a while now. In its place, we’ve seen upmarket restaurants such as STK offer a different ‘almost fine dining’ experience to customers – where service is informal, the atmosphere is casual and there’s no dress restrictions.

As a leading integrated food and drink agency, we had to experience this new ‘almost fine dining’ experience ourselves. In true Jellybean style this could only mean one thing – a visit to The Ivy Cobham Brasserie, just a stone’s throw away from our office in Leatherhead.

Significantly more upmarket than its neighbours Carluccio’s and Côte, The Ivy Cobham Brasserie combines the familiar luxury of The Ivy on West Street with a relaxed, yet sophisticated all-day dining experience.

We arrived at our early evening dinner reservation and were greeted by friendly hostesses who escorted us to our corner booth. Unable to decide on what starter to go for, we decided to share three different options – salt crusted sourdough bread, oaked smoked salmon and truffle arancini. When we were presented with a whole loaf of freshly made bread and salted butter, it became clear that the quality of food and attention to detail associated with the original Ivy restaurant was still the main focus of this more accessible venue.

For mains, my sister and I both opted for the English fillet steak while my dad chose the fish of the day. When we were there, this happened to be tuna with mango salsa and we’d definitely recommend trying this if it’s available during your visit.

While the starters and mains were all delicious, the star of the show was the Wimbledon-inspired Centre Court Melting Dome, featuring a white chocolate bombe and a strawberry sauce. This replaced their traditional dark chocolate bombe and as we were visiting on a rather hot summer’s day, was a much more refreshing option.

We were very impressed with our ‘almost fine dining’ experience at The Ivy Cobham Brasserie. There’s definitely room in the UK restaurant industry for more accessible upmarket restaurants and we look forward to following their developments.

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