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Yesterday was my birthday and my girlfriend arranged to meet me at my work and take me out for lunch.

I was expecting to go around the corner to the local pub and became a little concerned when she made me get on the tube…

“You do realise I only have an hour for lunch?” I said, as we headed into Central London.

“Yes I do” she replied, “which is why I secretly emailed your boss and arranged for you to have the afternoon off”.

Woohoo – she is such a keeper!

I had no idea where we were going as we approached the West End. I still didn’t twig when we were right outside The Ivy, thinking we were going past it and heading into Soho.

I am aware of the existence of places such as Nobu and The Ivy from reading Heat magazine, from which I have compartmentalised them as “very posh” “very expensive” and “out of my league”. I thought it unlikely I would ever frequent these places and had therefore given them little thought.

I assumed the likes of us were not allowed into such establishments and needless to say I was glad I was wearing my best work trousers without any stains on them.

It was surprisingly light inside considering it has stained glass windows. There were bistro style green leather chairs, wooden pannelling and the old-fashioned, high-quality feel of somewhere rather fine.

The windows are stained glass to stop nosy celeb-spotters and photographers nebbing in through the window, not that any real celebrities would sit downstairs with the gawkers when there are plentiful private dining options upstairs.

One of the first things I did was sneak upstairs and through a door marked “Private” to see what the “real” Ivy dining experience was like… It was, in fact, a bit boring. There was a big boardroom-style table in a big room that was very similar to the room downstairs.

The clientele were exactly as I expected them to be. To our right were a discreetly wealthy older couple, wearing their discreetly wealthy clothes and using their cutlery correctly.

To our left were businessmen in suits holding a lunch meeting and boasting to each other. I think that WAG Lizzie Cundy was behind us but I didn’t dare turn around to have a proper look.

We were very shy to begin with. The waiter bought us bread but no side plates so we didn’t dare touch the bread for fear of getting crumbs on the table cloth and didn’t ask for plates in case we weren’t supposed to have them. We were certainly too intimidated to ask for tap water.

A couple of cocktails later and we relaxed and enjoyed the beautifully cooked food: Smoked salmon and quails egg to share, sea bass, pea shoot salad and mint risotto for me, roast pork belly, parmesan courgettes and carrot & beetroot salad for her. After all that my girlfriend insisted I have a pudding, and here’s why:

See what I mean? Keeper 🙂

After lunch, we sipped our coffee delicately, talking in hushed tones and feeling very refined until I couldn’t keep up the cool and classy pretence any longer and robbed the “The Ivy” branded napkin as a souvenir.

We are going to use it as a tea towel.