The Ivy near London’s Cambridge Circus is well-known for being a popular celebrity haunt. Established in 1917, its proximity to the West End meant that guests such as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich and Noël Coward were frequent diners.

The Ivy has expanded over the years and now boasts a number of brasseries and cafes in handpicked locations all over the country.

The latest to open is The Ivy St Albans Brasserie, located on a main street in the city centre. It’s likely you’ll catch a glimpse of the cathedral on your journey to the restaurant, and there are plenty of other bars and pubs nearby should you wish to continue your evening elsewhere. Though once you’re settled in, it’s unlikely you’ll want to leave the cosy interior of The Ivy.

The restaurant is beautifully quirky and has a very welcoming atmosphere. The sage green walls are covered with an eclectic collection of prints, some with bold and colourful patterns, a few in black and white, and one with a drawing of St Albans Cathedral – a nice local touch. There are plenty of plants dotted around the room and the chairs are decorated with bright, mismatched cushions.

The bar is bound to draw your gaze the moment you step inside, festooned with glasses that glitter in the low lighting and with bartenders who flip and spin all manner of tools to create the perfect cocktail.

But the real star here is the food. This is British food done exceptionally well, with a few twists thrown in to keep your tastebuds dancing. As well as breakfast and dinner, they also serve afternoon tea and weekend brunch.

For a starter I opted for the seasonal soup of spring tomato broth with ricotta, courgette, orzo pasta, basil and olive croutons. The soup was very tasty and light, while the addition of the courgette and orzo pasta added some welcome texture.

For the main course I had The Ivy shepherd’s pie, made with slow-braised lamb shoulder and Wookey Hole Cheddar potato mash. The meat was meltingly soft and the mash was crispy on top and fluffy beneath – the perfect shepherd’s pie. It was very rich and also very filling. My friend and I also shared a side of zucchini fritti (courgette fries) at the waiter’s suggestion and they were delicious and crispy.

There were a number of things on the dessert menu that caught my eye – not least the mixed berries with yoghurt sorbet and warm white chocolate sauce – but in the end I chose the strawberry ice cream sundae. With fresh strawberries, soft vanilla ice cream, chewy meringue, a deliciously sweet strawberry sauce and a shortbread biscuit on the side, it was a more sophisticated version of an Eton mess – and very tasty.

The presentation of each dish was immaculate and every member of staff was friendly and eager to recommend dishes from the menu. With a wide and varied selection of food, The Ivy is easily somewhere you could return to again and again and never get bored of the fabulous food and quirky interior.

The Ivy St Albans Brasserie, 1-3 Verulam Road, St Albans, AL3 4DA. Details: 01727 615300,