The Ivy on the Square celebrate the changing of the seasons with a new Harvest Moon cocktail menu.
Morag Bootland braves the drizzle to embrace the autumn equinox in style
If there’s one sure-fire way to cushion the blow that is the advent of dark nights it’s a trip to The Ivy on the Square.
Now, dinner here usually manages to chase away the blues but this year the lovely peeps at The Ivy have really embraced the changing of the season. Not only is their frontage resplendent with pumpkins and autumnal foliage, but there’s a beautiful harvest moon waiting to greet diners at the corner site on St Andrew Square.
Inside, we find the usual friendly, efficient and attentive service and are impressed by how busy the restaurant is on a rather mizzly hump day evening. Perhaps there are lots of other Edinburgers in need of cheering up as the nights draw in?
But I’m really here to sample the new Harvest Moon cocktail menu, which The Ivy’s mixologists have created with Johnnie Walker whisky to celebrate the opening of the Johnnie Walker experience at the West End of Princes Street.
This new seasonal cocktail menu includes the Smashing Pumpkin (£10.85), featuring sweet and smoky Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, pumpkin purée, lemon juice, and topped with ginger ale, for that truly autumnal feel, and The Perfect Pear (£11.50), complete with Johnnie Walker Black Label, xante pear cognac, pear puree, cinnamon syrup, egg white, and aromatic bitters.
Additional new cocktails on the limited-edition menu include Thyme for Harvest (£11.75) containing Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, Beet it juice, lemon juice, and sugar syrup topped with ginger beer, and the decadent Foraged Boulevardier (£11.50), complete with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, apple infused Mancino cherry Vermouth, and Aperol.
I started off with the Smashing Pumpkin, a light and refreshing long drink, beautifully presented with a new moon of lemon peel. Enjoyed along with the salt and pepper squid with wasabi and miso mayo and sriracha (£9.50), the crispy coating was perfectly seasoned and the squid inside was tender and delicious.
Next came main courses of aromatic duck curry (£17.95) and a classic sirloin steak (£25.95) with some deliciously moreish chunky chips (£3.95). The duck curry was mild, aromatic and satisfyingly coconutty and my sister enjoyed the perfectly cooked sirloin so much that she didn’t talk to me for the duration of the plate clearing. That was fine by me because I had another autumnal treat to enjoy in the delightful Thyme for Harvest cocktail. A shorter cocktail with a stronger hit of Johnnie Walker’s gold label reserve, earthy with beetroot juice and the lingering herbal scent of thyme.
My sister couldn’t resist the theatre of the chocolate bomb (£8.95) for dessert. We’d watched with fascination as other diners had ordered this dramatic sweet treat which is a delicate chocolate ball encasing a vanilla ice cream and honeycomb centre. Hot caramel sauce is poured over the ball at the table so that you can watch and salivate as the decadent centre oozes out.
I’d plumped to skip pud in favour of the perfect pear cocktail, which was a sweet treat in itself, but I did manage to try out a couple of spoonfuls of the rich chocolate bomb which was heaven on a plate for anyone with a sweet tooth.
This was just the perfect way to celebrate the autumn equinox and as we left in the glow of that giant harvest moon, I felt ready to embrace the new season.
Bring on the woolly jumpers, wood-fired stoves and more cocktails, of course.
The ‘Harvest Moon’ will run from Thursday 23 September to Sunday, 24 October.
The Ivy on the Square, 6 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2BD.
0131 526 4777