Restaurant Review: The Terrace Restaurant at the Montagu Arms Hotel in Beaulieu, Hampshire
Before I dish out my thoughts to you on The Terrace restaurant at the Montagu Arms Hotel and more so the village of Beaulieu, I’m going to have to hold my hands up; before the scent of any biased tendencies are sniffed out! More so than a village known for its attraction to the tourists of the New Forest to spots such as The National Motor Museum and to the ponies, donkeys and autumnal pigs, this is also the village where I spent my childhood years and where my family have called home for 30 years, and aside from playing host to this bona fide British Michelin starred restaurant, holds a fond place in my heart.
The twilight zone between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I find to be a blur where, out of routine, we’re never quite sure what to do with ourselves – I even caught myself asking someone which day of the week it was the other day, was a first for 2015! Therefore the Terrace Restaurant and their Michelin menus was a welcome change for my father and me (and from the customary box of festive Quality Street)! Named after the late Lord Montagu of Beaulieu who passed away this year, the Montagu Arms and its Terrace Restaurant describe itself to be a proper English establishment– think Chewton Glen 30 years ago and you’ll get close to what they’re about.
Lead by chef Matthew Tomkinson who was awarded his Michelin Star back in 2008 at The Goose in Britwell Salome in Oxfordshire, his cooking holds a foundation of modern British food with French influences and carefully sourced local ingredients; something we all like. Every inch of the hotel and restaurant screams I’m British and proud of it and reflects its ever popular surroundings. On arrival the wooden cladded reception hosted a traditional, quaintly lit fire aside a pretty Christmas tree; with the remainder of the hotel and the restaurant mirroring this no fuss English attitude of attire. Aside from Palace House across the bridge, the Montagu Arms is the place I would have expected to find Lord Montagu himself, sitting in the corner mulling over their wine list, which I believe to be one of the finest of the forest.
Starting with an aperitif of white and rose champagne we were moved to a comfortable table in the corner with a view of the attractive garden; despite the stormy weather. Choosing options from both the a la carte and table d’hotel menus, I started with a Pressed Terrine of Braised Rabbit with Black Pudding and Celeriac Remoulade Rabbit ‘Bon Bon’ finished with Liver Parfait – delicately presented and with a teamwork of flavours, whilst my father chose their Risotto of Home Smoked Organic Salmon and Garden Beetroot, Horseradish Cream and Fresh Herbs which was a bright colour of fuchsia and despite not having much indication of salmon was a great start.
Although listing a choice of tempting fish options such as their Escalope of South Coast Turbot with a Sauté of Wild Mushrooms, we both opted for meat based options. I chose the Grilled Rump of local Dorset Rose Veal with Roasted Garlic Gnocchi Romaine Lettuce and Confit Lemon which, despite having previously injured some awfully rubbery gnocchi years ago on a trip to Prague, was superb and lightly fried; this was presented alongside the gorgeous, blushing veal cut. A glass of Californian Pinot Noir Flor de Campo was paired with the veal, this displayed all the classics of a Pinot Noir, medium bodied with bright red fruits such as raspberry and cherry and a savoury spice and peppery finish. Our other main course, a Roasted Leg of Woodside Lamb with Creamy Garlic Potatoes, Saute Cavelo Nero and Jerusalem Artichoke Puree was traditionally British; the agreeably tender lamb complemented the delicate garlic potatoes and artichoke. This was paired with a Malbec, la Roque from the so called hidden south west corner of France, the Cahors region. This wine was inky in colour with notes of plums, tobacco and green apple which was full in body with a velvety tannin and seemed to be a popular choice to accompany my father’s main course.
For dessert, the proud presentation of cheese that sat by the entrance to the restaurant was a highlight, and something we were not keen to skip away from. A mixture of French and British varieties, they echoed the basis of Matthew Tomkinson’s menu. We were pleased to have the company of the polite and enthusiastic Restaurant Manager who recommended a couple of his personal favourites (one of them being British) as well as a handful he thought we would enjoy. This with pairings any cheese lover would expect on their cheese plate; fat grapes, sharp quince and a collection of biscuits from ash to pumpkin seeded.
The ‘up there’ service is something of a winner for the Terrace Restaurant and is a quality that is quickly made aware of from any review you may read. The melody of the Michelin starred French / British influences echoes the very translation for the French word of this very English village; Beaulieu, (beautiful place). The fine dining, notable wine list and eloquent service is transcended though the undoubtedly British veins of this hotel and restaurant; throughout the year attracting both locals like me and my father and the tide of tourists; in favour of Matthew Tomkinson’s Michelin star that frequents The New Forest.
The Terrace restaurant is around £50 per head excluding alcohol.
Address: 1 Palace Ln, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, SO42 7YG / 01590 612324