Scoop NOLA: Ivy
If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you I’m known for convincing them to split multiple entrées anytime we’re out at dinner. I am pretty indecisive in all aspects of life, but especially at restaurants. I can never choose just one thing to order, so when the tapas train came rolling through, I totally hopped on. I’m not sure the decisions are much easier, but I do love being able to try a variety of different things and share them with friends.
Most small plate and tapas restaurants in New Orleans exist Downtown or in the Warehouse District, so when I heard about Ivy opening Uptown back in November, it immediately jumped to the top of my ‘must try’ New Orleans restaurant list. I was also intrigued because I learned Sue Zemanick was named the Executive Chef, and she can do no wrong in my book.
My first experience at Ivy was with a group of eight friends, and while we had a great time and enjoyed ourselves, it’s a better fit for a small group. The atmosphere is intimate with dim lighting and velvet lined walls. The menu contains roughly 20 different tapas options, split into the categories of seafood, beef, vegetarian and dessert.
My most recent visit was last Thursday evening with three friends. We arrived without a reservation but were seated immediately, which was nice. (I would definitely suggest reservations on a Friday or Saturday night.) Our waiter was attentive, but let us take our time and order as we pleased. We asked him for recommendations and he was quite enthusiastic about the seared scallop special, so we started with that. The scallops were browned to perfection and served with crispy red quinoa and finished with a garlic citrus beurre blanc. It was simple but delicious and didn’t overpower the flavor of the scallop. Another game changer on the menu is the tuna tartar. While tuna tartar is a staple on most menus, this one is dressed with ginger and yuzu, lots of citrus, and served with taro chips. When my eyes caught “snow crab claws with warm truffle butter” listed, there was no hesitation we would try those. Our waiter also suggested we get the brioche for dipping into the leftover truffle butter—I mean.. yes please. The gnocchi was also a must order, since I’m a devout carb-lover. They had an amazing brown crust, and were plump, seasoned well, tossed with pesto and topped with watercress. Finally for dessert we ordered the wedding cake. The miniature cake was served with vanilla bean ice cream and covered with a fondant that sparkles, so I was a fan. The icing to cake ratio wasn’t to my liking, but I’m not a huge icing fan anyway. I did enjoy the cake very much though, and just ate less of the icing.
The small plates range from about $6-$16. It’s a fabulous spot for drinks and a small bite before, or even after an event. While it wouldn’t be difficult to order enough to make a meal at Ivy, the dishes aren’t the sole reason to visit. Between the atmosphere, service and well thought out food and drink, Ivy easily propels an entertaining evening of conversation and merriment.