Restaurant Review: The Terrace Restaurant at The Montagu Arms hotel in Beaulieu, Hampshire
With 141,000 acres of New Forest produce and luscious lands surrounding it, it is no wonder that The Terrace Restaurant at The Montagu Arms in Beaulieu holds a Michelin Star and 3AA Rosettes.
As head chef, Matthew Tomkinson says, “The New Forest is my larder, and what a larder it is.” He uses fresh produce from local suppliers as well as vegetables and herbs from the hotel’s own kitchen garden to serve up classic British cuisine.
I was lucky enough to visit the restaurant and hotel with my guest, Nick early in the summer and sample some of the award winning cuisine for dinner. We started our evening with a glass of English sparkling wine in the elegant lounge while we made our dinner choices for the night. Staff members were all smiles and happiness and brought us a selection of olives, mixed nuts and a gougere, which was cheesy, light and ever so crisp on the outside. The a la carte menu has four starter and main course options each with a vegetarian dish and fish dish or two to choose from. Each description sounded mouth-watering and I couldn’t resist my favourite starter choice of scallops with a duck dish to follow, while Nick went for wood pigeon and pork.
Once we were led through to the restaurant, we chatted to a sommelier about our meal choices and wine preferences and I left it to him to decide what to bring out – I trust a professional opinion! Before long an appetiser of nasturtium soup with a pickled flower and brioche crouton was brought out and we enjoyed its earthy flavour and smooth texture.
The restaurant has wood panels sitting on the walls and is bathed in candlelight, offering a relaxing setting for dinner. One wall is all windows, looking out onto the secluded terrace and peaceful gardens beyond. High backed cushioned chairs adorned in a peachy/red fabric were our thrones for the evening and ornate gold framed mirrors were dotted around on the walls. We described the restaurant as respectful, in terms of atmosphere, with diners chatting quietly to one another.
My starter choice of ‘spiced diver caught Scottish scallops with cauliflower purée, apple, coriander and cumin veloute’ soon arrived and I loved its messy, yet, delicately crafted presentation with white and green ingredients on a white plate. The delicious, light, spicy cumin aroma came through and the two plump scallops with a crispy top were juicy and well complemented with the other elements on the dish. Thin green apple matchsticks added a little crunch as did the crispy croutons, while the flavoursome sauce and punchy coriander made this dish a tasty, intricate one with a perfect wine pairing of a delicate, tropical fruits, Austrian white.
Nick’s starter was a ‘warm salad of Alresford wood pigeon with candied walnuts, beetroot compote and crisp confit leg samosa.’ He described this dish as deep, dark and rich with bold flavours and uplifting elements and said “it had texture, it had flavour and it had aroma.” The colourful ingredients were presented on a dark plate, echoing its rich nature – the opposite to my starter. The pigeon was cooked medium – rare and he thought it was beautiful, tender and succulent, while the samosa was crispy with shredded, denser meat inside. He loved the caramelised walnut and pickled and puréed beetroot.
For my main course I opted for a ‘breast of Creedy Carver duck with English asparagus, roasted garlic purée, creamed Jersey Royal potatoes and morels.’ This was a lovely plate of food offering a big portion (not complaining!) with delicate duck, creamed thinly sliced potato mixed with green vegetables and a gorgeous crispy duck croquette with a crusty edge and braised meat inner. The garlic purée added so much flavour to the dish and brought the ingredients together but didn’t overpower. I loved the wine choice with this (a Californian Pinot Noir) it was full of flavour and complemented the duck and garlic very well.
For his main course, Nick chose the ‘sage and onion rolled Pondhead Farm pork with braised pig’s cheek, creamed potato, crispy shallot and apple.’ He said the pork was flavoursome with the herby outer and the cheek had a beautiful texture, pulling apart, with deep flavours. The smooth potato was complemented with the tasty, crunchy shallot and some salty, crispy crackling swirls were just what he wanted. He enjoyed a South African red with this and described it as velvety and rich.
For dessert I wasn’t going to say no to the ‘dark chocolate creameaux with walnut ice cream, coffee macaroon and milk chocolate mousse.’ I love the combination of coffee and chocolate and I wasn’t disappointed with the different elements on this plate. Little crunchy crumbs and walnut pieces were delightful, while the chewy macaroon was strong in coffee flavour. Rich flavours combined with smooth textures and crunchy extras to make this a sweet, warming and tasty dessert.
Nick is a fan of salted caramel so he opted for the ‘warm salted caramel fondant with cider lolly sorbet and crème fraiche.’ The ingredients were served simply on the plate in terms of presentation, allowing them to deliver in flavour. He thoroughly enjoyed the fondant and commented that it was fairly light in texture, complemented well by the refreshing fruit sorbet and ‘clean’ crème fraiche. He said every aspect was equally good but for him it lacked a ‘wow factor.’
In a nutshell
The Terrace Restaurant offers top notch, classic cooking where the high quality ingredients speak for themselves. Each dish was full of wonderful flavours and the portion sizes were generous with good presentation of the dishes and perfect wine choices.
Address: 1 Palace Ln, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, SO42 7YG / 01590 612324