Monday 29 August 2016

The Terrace Restaurant at The Montagu Arms...

The words Michelin and Star in the same sentence are guaranteed to make any food lover sit up and take notice, so it was with a sense of anticipation that I took a seat at an elegant table in The Terrace Restaurant* during my stay at The Montagu Arms. Chef Matthew Tomkinson is celebrated for his flair for using the local area as his larder, and with the countryside and coast of Hampshire on the doorstep of The Terrace Restaurant, there is a wealth of excellent local produce for him to utilise.
After setting his heart on becoming a chef, Matthew studied hospitality management at University and started off his career as an apprentice chef in a pub. He won a Roux Scholarship during his time at the Michelin starred Ockenden Manor in West Sussex, and he went on to complete a stage at Michel Guérard’s Les Prés d’Eugénie in south-west France which holds three Michelin Stars. He earned Michelin Stars at the last two establishments he worked at and he gained a Michelin Star at The Montagu Arms within six months of arriving there in 2009. Quite an impressive track record to say the least, so I was keen to try his food for myself. After a warm welcome we were seated at a table by the window overlooking the sprawling gardens and fountain.
We were treated to freshly baked cheese goujères to commence the meal, which were feather light and doughy and tasted so good with salted butter, especially since they were still warm.

The amuse-bouche of prosciutto duck, confit caramelised orange and hazelnut was a good indication of things to come, with sophisticated flavours and a delightful zesty layer from the orange which offset the deep meatiness of the duck. 

For my starter, I ordered Matthew’s signature dish of spiced diver caught Scottish scallops with cauliflower purée, apple, coriander and cumin velouté. I have had the pleasure of eating scallops numerous times, yet never quite like this. The plump scallops were offset by the cauliflower whilst the apple added a refreshing zing. The velouté was lighter than air and allowed the sublime scallops to shine as they took on the subtle spice of the cumin creating an excellent starter overall.

My dining companion enjoyed his ‘Tarte Fine’ of garden beetroot and English brie with caramelised onions, beetroot purée and apple salad, a perfect summer dish with a good balance of vibrant flavours from the creamy Brie which paired well with the satisfying earthiness of the beetroot and a crunch of texture from the walnuts.

My main course of Ricotta filled fresh saffron pasta with grilled and marinated vegetables, basil pesto and red pepper purée sounded simple. How wrong could I have been, however, as this was anything but simple. Again, I have eaten pasta many times but this was like nothing I have experienced before. The parcels of fresh pasta literally melted in my mouth with a lovely mousse like ricotta within. The marinated vegetables added to the dish and the basil pesto and red pepper purée created a Mediterranean flavour. This was everything I have always wished pasta could be, hearty without compromising on intricate flavour.

My dining companion was similarly impressed by his roasted breast of free range chicken with summer truffle, dauphine potatoes and Tunworth cheese fondue. I sampled this too, and I have rarely eaten chicken so tender whilst the crisp dauphine potatoes added a comfort food element to the dish and the truffle and Tunworth brought in complex flavours.

For dessert I could not resist dark chocolate cremeaux with walnut ice cream, coffee macaroon and milk chocolate mousse. Again where to begin extolling the virtues this plate is the only problem, but let’s start with the nutty delight of walnut ice cream which I could have happily taken home a vat of. The coffee macaroon was gone but not forgotten in seconds, the milk chocolate mousse delivered the richness of melted chocolate with a light texture and the dark chocolate cremeaux added a silky cocoa bitterness which  I relished.

Allow me to move on to the unadulterated pleasure of the warm salted caramel fondant with ‘cider lolly sorbet’ and crème fraiche. Anybody who has read my blog or magazine work for a while will know that I am something of a fondant addict, but this was a different take on the chocolate fondants I have concluded so many meals with. The sponge was airy and the warm salted caramel sauce was sweet and salty in equal measure. Salted caramel has become so popular of late, but this showed how delicate it can be in skilled hands. Meanwhile, the cider lolly sorbet practically created a civil war at our table as we both dived in to eat as much of it as possible. I cannot understand, only marvel, at how a simple sorbet could equate to such amazing flavour but this was rich with apple whilst retaining the boozy quality of cider too.

Well, what an evening and I know that people might roll their eyes when food writers call a meal ‘a triumph’ but sorry, that is exactly what this was. I highly recommend trying Matthew Tomkinson’s cuisine for yourself, as every bite of this was a journey through magnificent flavours and textures. It is no wonder that The Terrace Restaurant holds a Michelin Star and it was a privilege to dine there and enjoy flawless service and exquisite food.

The Terrace Restaurant 
The Montagu Arms Hotel, 
New Forest, 
SO42 7ZL

01590 612324

What do you all think, have you dined at a Michelin Star restaurant and which of these dishes appeals to you? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was a guest of The Terrace Restaurant, this meal was complimentary for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Thursday 25 August 2016

A break at The Montagu Arms, New Forest...

When life gets a little hectic, the idea of a break at a luxurious hotel in rolling countryside certainly sounds good. It was fortuitous timing when I was recently invited to review The Montagu Arms* set in the beautiful village of Beaulieu in The New Forest, Hampshire. Life has been very busy lately, so I was excited for an escape. After a long journey, we wound our way through incredibly picturesque country lanes and up the gravelled driveway of The Montagu Arms, fringed by the shimmering waters of Beaulieu River and Mill Dam where swans were gliding by in the afternoon sunshine. The Montagu Arms dates back to the 17th Century in parts and the charming ivy covered walls conjure up a sense of unspoiled seclusion as soon as you glimpse the grand building. There are 22 rooms and suites at the hotel as well as private dining facilities

After a warm welcome, we were whisked up to our deluxe suite, The Adler Suite, complete with three rooms. There was a spacious lounge, with sofa, television, desk, digital radio with iPod dock and coffee making facilities.

Along the corridor was a contemporary style bathroom with mirrored bath, shower and extra touches such as The White Company toiletries, fluffy robes and slippers.

The bedroom had a super king sized bed which was so comfortable, a television, wardrobe, sofa, coffee table and windows which afforded us stunning views of the gardens and croquet lawn.
There were lots of thoughtful extras in the room, such as iron and ironing board, freshly cut flowers, a selection of magazines and bottled water.

We set off to explore, taking in the refined ambience of The Magnolia Room, The Garden Room and the outdoor terraces which were the perfect place to soak up the afternoon rays. There was a selection of magazines available to take to the garden and there is a well-stocked bar area for those early evening drinks.

The whole atmosphere of the hotel is one of sophistication, there is grandeur throughout from details such as wood panelling, flickering candlelight, longcase clocks and antiques as well as an impressive collection of artwork adorning the walls.

The reception team is so helpful and ready to deal with any requests for local information. I was dazzled by the awards for The Terrace Restaurant (separate review to follow) including a very prestigious Michelin Star for Chef Matthew Tomkinson.

After exploring the gardens, which include a kitchen garden (where much of the produce used in The Terrace Restaurant is grown) we headed to the nearby Careys Manor Hotel for a swim. Careys Manor is the sister hotel to The Montagu Arms, just 6 miles up the road, where you can enjoy the use of the swimming pool and SenSpa facilities during the course of your stay.

After a couple of hours swimming, we headed back to The Montagu Arms to get ready for dinner. After dinner we strolled in the gardens and around Beaulieu itself, whilst walking by the river we were joined by a few New Forest ponies which roam freely around the area adding to the picture perfect appeal.

Back at the suite we found that the bed had been turned down and a pillow spray and even a weather forecast had been left for us. The lights had been switched on and the radio was playing classical music. It is aspects like this which really set a hotel apart in terms of luxury and we relaxed in the sitting room and enjoyed some evening coffee before retiring for a night of sound sleep in that very comfortable bed.

In the morning we settled at a table overlooking the garden in The Terrace Restaurant, enjoying a selection from the buffet of cereal, cheese, fruit and bread before a cooked New Forest Breakfast of our choice.

My partner had a Full English (minus eggs and black pudding which he does not eat) and I had scrambled eggs on brioche toast. The food was delicious and we sipped our coffees and enjoyed the views before setting off for our second day exploring The New Forest.

The Montagu Arms is the ideal choice for a relaxing break or as a destination to celebrate a special occasion. The hotel is so welcoming, no detail is overlooked and the sprawling grounds are a feast for the eyes.

There is also Monty’s Inn which serves traditional pub food, should you wish to go for a more casual dining experience during your stay. Tea and coffee can be served to your room in the morning for no extra charge, to make waking up in this truly special place an even more enjoyable experience. The Montagu Arms has it all, an elegant country hotel in a beautiful part of the world where there is plenty to see and do. This is a perfect place from which to explore the surrounding countryside and coastline, trust me you will not want to leave!

The Montagu Arms 
Palace Lane, 
SO42 7ZL

01590 612324

What do you all think, do you like the idea of a break at The Montagu Arms and have you ever visited the New Forest? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*My stay at The Montagu Arms was complimentary for the purposes of this review, Opinions stated herein are my own and honest. 

Thursday 18 August 2016

Sunday Roast at The Grill on New York Street...

Ah Sunday, the day of rest and one day of the week which should definitely be all about taking it easy. One of my favourite things to do on a Sunday is undoubtedly to go out to for a Sunday Roast, but if you are anything like me you probably have very exacting standards when it comes to what you consider to be the perfect Sunday Roast. Potatoes roast to golden perfection, heaps of vegetables, Yorkshire puddings the size of small planets and rich gravy all have to feature whilst of course tender meat takes centre stage. Add a bottle of fruity red to the equation and you are pretty close to my idea of an exemplary Sunday Roast. I was over in Derbyshire at the weekend to see my family, so an invitation to dine at Grill on New York Street* Manchester last Sunday was opportune timing indeed. I like the location of New York Street, a street I was not familiar with before which is just off Piccadilly Gardens and has both The Grill on New York Street and a branch of The Alchemist just along the same street, to take care of a few after dinner cocktails.

For me, The Grill on New York Street is aptly named as it conjures up Manhattan as soon as you walk in with a sweeping restaurant floor, open kitchen and a raised area with cosy booths. The design is contemporary and understated, with polished wood, leather seating and soft lighting which creates a relaxing ambience.

We were led to a booth which gave us an expansive view of the restaurant floor and kitchen, where a busy lunchtime service was underway with the chefs working with choreographed precision. Soon, a bottle of La Serre Merlot was airing as we perused the menu, which boasts a wide range of options including aged British beef steaks and comfort food such as fish and chips

There is even a Bloody Mary menu which you can customise to make your own perfect spin on this classic cocktail. I decided on a starter of calamari with saffron mayonnaise, the tempura style batter was light and the saffron mayonnaise complemented the calamari well, as did a dose of freshly squeezed lime juice.

My dining companion enjoyed a hearty roasted tomato and red pepper soup served with a bruschetta croute and chive oil. The soup had a silky texture and the flavour was rounded off by the tangy bruschetta topping.

On to the main event and from the options of roasted half chicken, beef and pork (with crackling) I chose the chicken whilst my dining companion went for the beef.
The presentation was extremely pleasing to the eye, with gargantuan Yorkshire puddings piled high above the meat, roast potatoes and rivers of gravy whilst extra boats of gravy and dishes of vegetables were served on the side.

The chicken was tender, the roast potatoes were fluffy with crisp edges and the traditional gravy provided the ideal counterpart to the Yorkshire puddings.

 My dining companion enjoyed the roast beef served pink to his preference, which went well with a fiery horseradish sauce.

The dishes of carrot and swede, greens and extra gravy meant that we were so full, but naturally we still managed to find room for dessert. We opted for the apple tart with vanilla ice cream and the sticky toffee pudding. The sticky toffee was a sweet delight with plenty of toffee sauce and the apple tart proved to be a treat with short, buttery pastry.

Our wine selection of La Serre Merlot was a good choice to wash down this Sunday Roast, with layers of plum and blackberry as well as a subtle spice. There was excellent service throughout and this sophisticated environment is the ideal place for a relaxing Sunday Roast, with delcious food served in abundance without any of the dreaded clearing up to do afterwards.

Grill on New York Street 
New York St, 
M1 4BD

What do you all think, do you like having a traditional Sunday Roast and what do you think is vital for the perfect Sunday Roast? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was a guest of Grill on New York Street, this meal was complimentary. Opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.