Where did Patti Campbell make reservations for us for Valentine’s Day you ask? The Ivy Cafe. In fact, she didn’t even give me an option, just told me where we were going…thank goodness!
The Ivy Cafe is owned by Chef Anthony Hruska and his wife Lisa. He offered a Pre Fixe menu that evening which at first worried me. See, a lot of restaurants in preparation for “amateurs” dining out on holiday’s will ‘dumb down’ the menu to accommodate people and palates who don’t dine out often. Chef Anthony threw caution to the wind and brought out the big culinary guns, no holds barred.
We ordered drinks and explained to the server that we would like to take our time, enjoy a drink and paruse the menu a bit. Our drinks arrived, an amaretto sours and vodka martini. The sours was sweet and plentiful, but the martini was but a drop in the bottom of a large martini glass. Now, my date and I our both from the food biz, and know our way around a cocktail. I don’t even think the glass contained a full ounce of liquid. It may have been spilled on the way or mistakenly under-filled. A start like this can be troublesome. I caught the server and asked about the scant serving. She thought it may be shy because I had asked for it dry, but offered to top it off. The manager/hostess (a lovely woman with a calming english accent) brought the drink back full to just below the rim, problem solved. Very promptly and efficiently.
We started with appetisers of Baked Brie en Croute and the Duck Crepe. The Brie was just warm enough wrapped in a pastry and topped with a berry sauce and served with crackers. The duck crepe was filled with rich sweet meat and drizzled with a garlic cream sauce. Both appetizers were well portioned and absolutely delicious.
We were given the requested time to enjoy our starters and were having some difficulty deciding on an entree. The selection ranged from Chateaubriand to Sea Bass to Four Cheese Ravioli. There was also Swordfish, Red Perch, Salmon and a Cherry stuffed Black Forest Filet. Chef Anthony had set the bar very high. We settled on Chateaubriand and Crab Crusted Sea Bass. I, for one, had an inner battle over sharing my entree with my date. It was only my desire to taste her meal won me over. Both meals were perfectly prepared and presented beautifully. Compliments to the Chef!
The meal ended with Ivy’s Trio of Desserts; a chocolate covered strawberry, a chocolate cake with a chocolate covered cherry and tiramisu. All very tasty enough to force down even though we were stuffed from our meals. But the tiramisu… this was off the charts. My date initially commented on her general aversion to this often ill-prepared Italian staple. Admittedly, this dessert is over-done and often a pale comparison to the original intent. My lovely acquaintance had only liked this dessert while visiting Italy and trying it homemade in her family’s hometown. Until now. Chef Anthony has captured the essence of the old world and impressed a most biased Italian palate.
Cost. If your reading this Pia, know that this was a splurge, but considering the entire dining experience and my affection for your Niece, a mere $40 per person seemed a fantastically economical dinner.
Ivy’s serves lunch and dinner and is a must if your visiting historic Ligonier!
Bravo Anthony and Lisa!