Nestled in the ground floor of the Churchill Hyatt Regency Hotel, near Marble Arch, this venue is a traditional hotel restaurant that is being given new flair by a creative, young and talented chef. A great option to cap a day’s shopping on Oxford Street or as a hot spot for vegans looking for dining on another level.
The restaurant was very quiet, with a slight ‘lounge bar feeling’ – this was probably in-large due to the piano-player and singer performing in the corner. There are hints of the modern though, the singer was reading her music from an iPad, there are a few modern decorative pieces and then there is the menu itself. The open kitchen helps to bring some atmosphere to the room and convey the genuine passion from this team of chefs.
Although Jack isn’t much of a bread lover, I squealed a little in delight as our waiter brought over a hunk of warm, freshly cooked bread. It was so nice to have warm bread that tasted as though it just left the oven. Me being me, I’m not a fan of dry foods so I asked for a small dish of balsamic vinegar to dip into, of which they were happy to oblige.
We ordered from the vegan menu and tried each dish on the list. None of these dishes contain any animal products, not even honey!
Chilled Yellow Heirloom Tomato Soup, Black Tuscan Kale Chip, Cashew Crème Fraiche (Raw)
This soup was served cold, which I know is not to everyone’s liking but during the summer months it provides a refreshing starter and the creamy texture was different to most cold soups, which are often watery in texture. Taste-wise there was a spicy, peppery taste and a hit of basil, which helps to cut through the slightly cloying texture of the cashew crème fraiche (hard to believe this wasn’t dairy). The kale and herbs sprinkled on top add texture to the dish and balance the flavours beautifully.
I love asparagus and not enough places utilise it in its simplest form. This dish was perfectly cooked, still crunchy and with a slight char. The truffle oil delivered a strong punch, which could be a little much for some palettes, but the almond ricotta tones it down and adds a great, slightly grainy texture. Finally, the tomatoes add a nice acidity which brings the elements together.
The main event
Tofu is usually something that sends shivers down my spine as past experiences have tended to involve a wobbly, tasteless item of strangeness. But I can honestly say that this dish won me over and actually was one of my favourites from the whole menu! It has a surprising amount of flavour, the herb crust made the outside crunchy and the fluffy inside was omelette-like in texture. The tofu was quite spicy, from the black pepper, but the emulsion, flavoured with mustard and coconut, delivered a much wider taste sensation, which brought the taste-buds alive. The cubes of carrot were cooked perfectly and added another dimension to the dish, but the broccoli was a little underdone – making it stringy and very hard to cut.
The rice had a rich, creamy flavour and texture – which, in my opinion, a non-vegan would never know wasn’t cream or dairy. The lemon is very strong and hidden within the dish were some chunks of preserved lemon which gave a bit of a punch-in-the-face of flavour. The mushrooms were amazing, different textures and tastes from the foraged varieties. The mushrooms are perfectly matched with the creamy garlic of the sauce and the tomatoes delivered a zing, similar to sun-dried tomatoes, only much juicier. The artichokes were nice and soft, subtle but with a little acidic hint. I found this dish very rich and I couldn’t finish it (but that may have also been something to do with the fact it was my fourth dish).
To finish …
The raspberry sorbet was lush, scattered with the little nibs of cacao it feels very luxurious – I could happily eat that in a bowl on its own and lots of it! The cheesecake is a little… odd … there is a strong taste of coconut, with the rich cacao taste coming through after. I think the key issue here is that I have an unbelievably sweet tooth and that this is dark and bitter – appealing to many people’s palettes but not mine. The caramel however, is a different matter; rich and thick, I could literally bathe in it!
The pie had an intensely thick, buttery flavour, almost savoury – comparable to a Nkd bar, but much bigger and with more dimensions. I liked the pie, although couldn’t eat a whole portion of it, as it is far too rich for my tastes. The coconut cream was similar in taste to the cheesecake, very intensely coconutty and extremely thick. Again, I could eat a small amount but preferred the pie without. I loved this sorbet too, beautifully rich in a dark cherry flavour, it’s luxurious but refreshing – I’d love to have this with a crepe (a vegan one of course).
I had a rose wine – 2012 Chateau d’Astros – which comes in at £9 per glass. It was a light, fresh wine, a little sweet but would suit those who like dry wines too. It’s similar to Moroccan grey wines.
*Jack chimes in*:
As for me, I had a glass or two of the 2010 Torre Santa, Primitivo – a nice rich Puglian with all the mouth massaging tendencies of a well aged red from that sunny part of the world. Generally, I find the Primitivo to be varying degrees of good, and The Montagu’s sommelier picked a very good one.
I then finished the meal/my liver on a 2002 Tokaji Aszú – which like all Tokaji, has such a magnificent and complex sweetness to it that my attempts to describe it are stupid and futile. Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum, motherfuckerrrrr!
*jack shuts up*
Bryony: I also had a peppermint tea to finish the dinner – a great, fresh blend.
The staff at the Montagu were first class. From the moment we walked in we were greeted and looked after at every step of the way. The waiter was attentive, advising on good choices of wine and letting us know small details about the food – the bread has just been cooked, the tomatoes are cooked in a unique confit style etc.
The head chef also joined us at the table and spoke to us about creating the vegan menu – something he found fun, but very challenging.
The staff add a welcoming touch and really bring the venue to life.
The set menu comes in at:
2 courses for £26, 3 courses for £30. All dishes can be chosen individually as well and cost: Starters at £8.00, Mains at £19.00 and Desserts at £6.50
The Montagu, Churchill Hyatt Regency, 30 Portman Square, London, W1H 7BH
+44 (0) 20 7299 2037
The vegan menu can be found here and is available from 12:30-11:00pm daily.