On a chilly Thursday lunchtime we headed over to Montpellier Lodge, the fine dining and contemporary restaurant and bar set in the corner of Montpellier gardens in the former park-keepers house. We were invited to try out their new spring menu. Guaranteed to be a hit for both the lunch time crowd and fine dining set, this menu tasting made us sit up and take notice.
Head chef Kevin Harris was schooled by Raymond Blanc, and worked with Marcus Wareing – recent Master Chef Judge. He proceeded to dazzle us with tasters from dishes on both the day and evening menus.
From the lunch/brunch menu particular favourites included; a brilliant flat iron steak served with marrow butter, rocket and triple cooked fries, a blissfully flavoursome and delicate Cornish crab tian with lemon purée, brown crab beignet and a shellfish emulsion. When the carrot and coriander soup arrived it surprised us all, instead of a boring dish seen on many a menu, it proved to be yet another highlight – wonderfully puréed, it had a great consistency, spiced ever so slightly with caraway seeds and a subtle, interesting balance of flavours.
From the evening menu, standout dishes included a rabbit terrine with pickled carrot, watercress purée and toasted brioche, the duo of Lamb, in this case pink tenderloin and a crumbed cuboid of lamb belly, presented with dauphinoise, mint jelly cubes and lamb sauce. But the real star of the show; the catch of the day, served with Goan vegetable curry served, saffron & fennel rice, and plum chutney – won groans of pleasure all around the table..
Our private tasting was being held in the buildings newest extension, a Scandinavian style conservatory that seats up to 32 and sports a rather fabulous chandelier. Large floor to ceiling windows allowed a great view of the historic pleasure gardens. Each table was set with precision, it was pleasantly heated for a conservatory and the muted tones and neutral decor set the scene nicely.
At first glance on the menu, the desserts appeared to be unimaginative classics, but they outshone all expectation. I can’t remember ever tasting a better crème brûlée, the golden syrup flavour subtly playing in the mouth contrasted by the accompanying gingerbread had everyone at the table coming back for second and third helpings!
The wine list is very reasonably priced and has a good selection on offer. The Pinot Noir we enjoyed with lunch was especially enjoyable and complemented the variety of lunchtime dishes well.
Overall Montpellier Lodge offers tasty and well executed dishes, with well balanced flavour combinations. Head Chef Kevin’s talent for seasoning shines in a varied menu that is on our recommend list for any occasion and to everyone who appreciates fine food. We will be back to do a full review very soon.
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