Inside the 5-star luxury hotel, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, you might not know this, but you can dine on a one of a kind vegan meal at The Montagu. This isn’t another cookie cutter hotel restaurant, but something completely different. Here are 10 reasons why people like vegan dining at The Montagu.
1. The Location and History of the Hotel: The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is located in Portman Square in the heart of the West End and within walking distance to theaters, Hyde Park, and Oxford Street. The hotel itself is situated on part of the 270 acre estate that was granted in 1552 to Sir Henry William Portman, Lord Chief Justice to Henry VIII.
TSG Tip: Did you know that the hotel’s name was given by the hotel’s developer, Sir Eric Miller, in recognition of Sir Winston Churchill?
2. The History of The Montagu: People love British history and The Montagu definitely delivers. Part of the site on which the hotel resides was built in the late eighteenth century by the grandson of the first Earl of Sandwich, Edward Montagu. His wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu, was a socialite and an original “bluestocking.” If you were an educated, intellectual woman of the 18th century, you were probably like Mrs. Montagu who was a member of the Blue Stockings Society, an informal women’s social and educational movement in England. She was also a writer, literary critic, and a patron of the arts who lived in the Montagu House at Portman Square until her death in 1800.
TSG Tip: Why bluestocking? Black silk stockings were part of formal wear during the 18th century and anything else was considered informal dress.
3. The Dining Room: If you visit The Montagu during the day for breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea, you might be fortunate enough to have a window seat with this view looking out onto Portman Square.
4. The Decor: The crisp white linens paired with the neutral colored walls and ceiling work in perfect harmony with the darker tones of the bar on one end of the room and the open kitchen on the other end to create a classic yet stylish dining room. In the evening the dining room comes alive under the modern neon lighting-like glow and the classic overhead chandeliers. The lighting is bright enough to allow you to read your menu, but not so dark that you can’t see your food or dining guest. The overall atmosphere of the restaurant is one of fine dining minus the snobbery one usually associates with a restaurant of this caliber. This redhead was immediately impressed because she can do without pretentiousness while eating.
TSG Tip: For a truly special dining experience, reserve your seat at the Chef’s Table for a front row view of the dynamic inner workings of the kitchen.
5. The Staff: When I approached the entrance to The Montagu, I was immediately greeted by the affable Jan Freygang, staff member and social media icon. Don’t believe me? With nearly 14k followers on Twitter, his bosses should do all they can to harness some of his intellect and social media power. It’s rare to find someone with whom I can intelligently discuss social media and Jan is a master of this medium. The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill and The Montagu would do well to hold onto Jan as long as possible because I suspect that he’s one of the reasons why this place works.
Jan quickly seated me at my table and presented me with a menu. Throughout the evening I watched him interact with the staff as well as guests, including checking in on me a few times, all the while making sure everything in the restaurant was running smoothly. Shortly after being seated by Jan, my server came over and introduced himself. On this evening it would be the lovable, passionate, and attentive Ivano from Milan. He seemed to float from table to table and engaged each and every customer, leaving them smitten immediately. We chatted in between courses and I learned that on September 27th he celebrated his first year anniversary of living in England. His English was perfect, which is pretty impressive for someone who less than one year ago barely spoke the language. The Montagu has a dedicated staff comprised of exceptionally trained individuals and Ivano is an example of that.
6. The Menu: The Montagu offers diners a wide variety of British and European dishes using only the finest seasonal ingredients. Choose from breakfast, lunch, or dinner or their special weekend brunch (New York Italian Style Saturday Brunch or the Sunday Champagne Pommery Brunch), afternoon tea (Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea, or the weekend ‘Sex and the City’ Par-Tea), or vegan/vegetarian dining. To see which dishes on the menu are vegan, look for the green ‘v’. You can view all of their menus on The Montagu website.
7. The Wine: Ivano suggested wine with dinner and I selected a glass of Real Viñedos Rubio wine. This organic rose wine from Spain is a beautiful pink color with subtle notes of strawberry, raspberry, and red currants. Not typically a wine drinker, you know the wine has to be good if I’m raving about it. The Montagu has a wine list containing a wide range of New World and Old World wines available by the bottle or glass.
8. The Starters: While waiting on my starter, I sipped my wine and nibbled on the freshly baked crusty bread served to every table. I began my meal with a vegan starter called, “Heirloom Beetroot Tartar,” despite my previously stated disdain of beetroot (known as beets in the US). But this dish made with both golden and regular beets, herbed cashew cheese, grapefruit, and sherry vinaigrette was an interesting and delectable union of ingredients I would’ve never thought to combine into one dish. While the beets had an expected pronounced earthy taste, combining them with the acidic grapefruit and sherry vinaigrette made the dish, dare I say, delicious.
Take a second to view the above pictures and to examine those precise and uniform knife cuts. The attention to detail that’s combined with professional training produces exquisitely prepared food that’s appealing to both your eyes and your taste buds.
9. The Entrée: While I came to dine on the vegan menu, I was pretty much enthralled by what the kitchen had done to the beets in my starter. Curiosity got the best of me and so I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and opted for another dish containing beets. The vegan option would have been a Mushroom Arborio Risotto, but I elected to go with the vegetarian option, Beetroot and Ricotta Tortellini with golden beetroot purée, pine nuts, and Lancashire Bomb Cheese.
When Ivano presented my plate, it was as beautiful as a brightly colored Jackson Pollock painting with streaks of yellow and bursts of red and green across the plate. Delicate foam sat atop each tender tortellini, which was a stark contrast to the crunch from the pine nuts, the creaminess from the purée and the cheese, and the sweetness of the roasted beets on the side. While the components were vastly different, they came together to create the most exquisite dish like no other that I’ve ever tasted. By the end of my meal, The Montagu had completely transformed my opinion of beets entirely.
10. The Dessert: WARNING: Step away from your computer as I suspect you might be drooling right about now. Look at all those red luscious strawberries! My dessert, while simple and uncomplicated, was a rich and chocolatey vegan chocolate cake with vanilla marinated strawberries and yes, without a doubt it was as good as it looks. If it didn’t say vegan on the menu, you’d never know that it was.
TSG Tip: Vegan desserts (and vegan food for that matter) taste as good as if not better than “regular” food. It’s not all about nuts and berries, but healthy eating without animal ingredients.
After one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat, I was heading out to return to my hotel and practically tripped upon the piano player that was playing in the lounge adjacent to the restaurant. The entire evening I mistakenly thought I was listening to piped in music through the sound system. No I wasn’t listening to recorded music, but a live pianist whose music was incredible and the perfect accompaniment to my meal. If you don’t believe me look at the little girl who was mesmerized by the music as it wafted throughout the entire area and mingled with the sights, smells, and sounds of the restaurant.
As a non-meat eater, I can attest to the fact that it’s extremely rare to find a fine dining restaurant with an exclusively crafted vegan menu, no less one where everything works, but at The Montagu it certainly does. The food is no less than spectacular! When you dine out, it’s not only about the food, but the ambiance and service, too. At The Montagu, the staff runs a smoothly choreographed dining experience from start to finish that most diners probably are unaware of, but will undoubtedly benefit from nonetheless. If you’re visiting London and would like to treat yourself to a spectacular meal in a historic and charming setting with dazzling service, then you must make a reservation at The Montagu and be prepared to be completely wowed!
The Montagu invited me to dine in their restaurant as a guest, but as always — all opinions and photographs are my own except where noted.