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The Montagu Kitchen at Hyatt Regency London, The Churchill:
The challenge of the hotel restaurant. Unless you have the luxury of multiple venues, the average London hotel restaurant has to cater just as well for a jet-lagged business traveller as for a couple celebrating a wedding or anniversary with a trip to London. The Churchill, Hyatt Regency, is a luxurious five star Marylebone hotel on the edge of one of London’s pretty Garden Squares. I’ve been to The Churchill bar there before and really enjoyed the quirky mixture of cocktails and bar food. So when I heard that the restaurant had been revamped and re-launched as The Montagu Kitchen I was delighted to accept an invitation to check it out. Kent-born Executive Chef Mark Sainsbury has developed a new menu inspired by the countryside where he grew up. Chartwell House, the home of Winston Churchill was part of what has generated that passion. The walled rose garden on the north side of the house was designed by Clementine’s close friend and cousin Venetia Montagu who was notorious for her relationship with Henry Asquith and his family. Even the menu is a reflection of Chartwell Gardens, a stunning design of hand drawn wildflowers.
What of the kitchen and the food though? The smart open kitchen is equipped with a new Josper. The menu is fresh, seasonal and full of local produce. And, the staff, from chefs through to front of house are friendly and smiling. We ordered a bottle of Nyetimber to complement the British menu and then struggled to choose from mains which included slow-cooked Lamb Cannon, Homemade marmalade glazed pork belly and 21 days dry aged heritage beef. For my companion a beautiful dish of poached lobster with samphire and potato salad, grapefruit, nasturtium and vanilla mayonnaise. Delicate and immaculately presented, she thought the lobster was beautifully cooked, tender and ultra fresh. For me, 16 hours cured salmon with pickled cucumber, confit tomato, radish and tiny crisp like morsels of skin with a National Trust cider horseradish mustard. The salmon was firm and had a delicate cure while the other ingredients on the plate ensured a well-balanced mouthful. Guinea Fowl Breast for my friend was served carefully roast, with delicate leaves of baked butternut squash and winter spinach. The kind of autumnal combination of flavours that can genuinely be described as seasonal and local. My Josper grilled whole Dover sole was cooked on the bone but served filleted for me. The flesh of the fish was firm and perfectly cooked. I’d normally prefer my fish served on the bone as I rather enjoy filleting it myself, but it was immaculately presented and I rather enjoyed taking the lazy option. And, it is this kind of food which is the best of British cuisine in my opinion. Desserts shouldn’t be missed. We enjoyed two, both the kind of puddings I enjoyed as a child but ramped up a few notches in perfection. Raspberry rose Bakewell tart came with homemade English honey ice cream. It was just as delicious as it sounds and provided just the right amount of guilt. My companion’s apple and walnut Charlotte came with a puree of tart Granny Smith apples and smoked cinnamon ice cream. An apple charlotte, if you have never come across it before, is a traditional English dessert made with egg-soaked bread, butter and apples all baked in a pretty mould and turned out when the bread is crisp on the outside.
We were both impressed. The food photos in this review are all my own, taken in the evening as the dishes came to the table. Everything really does look good enough to eat – and for me, lucky enough to have done so already, they bring back great memories of a delicious meal. And, I do think the menu is perfectly balanced to suit the needs of a hotel of this kind. There are simple dishes like my Dover sole contrasted with some elegant and complex flavour combination to appeal to those looking for a more elaborate meal.
We dined as guests of the Montagu Kitchen but all comments are editorially given.
The Montagu Kitchen
30 Portman Square,
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