The pianist started to softly play a familiar tune. My friend Kate turns to us, and exlaims ‘oooooh, it’s someone’s birthday!’ Guiltly exchanging glances as the waitress got closer and closer – birthday cake crowned with merrily dancing candles in hand – my other friend and I tried to stifle giggles as realisation dawned on Kate that the cake was floating closer and closer to her, and that we had schemed a way to celebrate her birthday whether she liked it or not.
Disclaimer: This time were invited guests of the Hyatt Regency Hotel
but all previous visits, errant thoughts, and misuse of literary quotes are entirely my own.
This was in the Montagu Restaurant, the main restaurant of the Hyatt Regency hotel, our usual haunt for a ladies only monthly catch up. Not only a plush place to enjoy an evening, it was so conveniently located in Marylebone that we could all assemble easily, fresh from a long day in our offices. Now that we have all changed jobs, we don’t meet quite as often, but every time I walk through the doors I think of those friends who made the long days bearable.
This time though, a different group of friends and I had gathered in the Churchill bar, excitedly celebrating a few different milestones, invited to see some of the changes since my last few visits.
We began with a quick tipple whilst watching the bartenders smoothly dance behind the bar – ordering a few different cocktails to test their skills and dexterity. From classics straight from the Bartenders little black book, to beverages inspired by Sir Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine; and just reading their cocktail list is a pleasure.
One of the details I enjoy the most are the locally knitted animals that can be found on the bookshelves (Jock, Rufus and Pig) and are used to emulate Churchill’s use of his children’s toys as bookmarkers in his library at Chartwell. They reflect the signature pictures Sir Winston and Clementine used when writing love letters, Sir Winston was a dog (or often a pig) and Clementine, a cat.
Eventually, Binny, Aftab, Zoe, Gary and I gathered on The Churchill Bar terrace to kick our evening off with a bright blue chromatic cocktail especially for the Beneath The Colour collaboration. Matching one of the Saatchi artworks adorning the hotel, we enjoyed the playful concoction, even managing to drink it without an Instagram boomerang.
(If Aftab doesn’t some kind of hand modelling contract through sheer volume of instagram photos shared by us, something is wrong the with world.)
Finishing our drinks and wandering back into the Montagu we were lucky enough to be seated at the chefs table, in full view of the buzzing kitchen and poured glasses of Pommery champagne and freshly warmed bread. Every Monday should be like this…
Watching the two very talented chefs Mark Sainsbury and Carlo Martino gracefully plate each course of our meal was a joy. We began with enjoying both of the starters; cured British Isle salmon, poached lobster, pea, edamame & fresh horseradish purée with sharon fruit dressing; closely followed by caramelized grilled figs, steamed artichokes, goat’s curd, celery oil – and I honestly can’t choose a favourite of the two.
As main courses go, the seared West Country lamb loin & braised shoulder was beautifully tender, and served with a white onion purée, baby vegetables, kale, herb reduction lamb jus and as good as I’ve ever had (though my photos are admittedly pretty rough in the low lighting); but the vegetarian option of baked cauliflower cheese, crispy kale & spiced pine nuts was really scrumptious too, a proper winter warmer. We enjoyed wine pairings as we went (half glasses for me) and I loved the soft and tender St Emilion red that accompanied it.
The piece de resistance was dessert – served on a beautifully presented dish the trio of local raspberry lemon thyme mousse, damson sorbet, blueberry almond slice disappeared quicker than you can say Tracey Emin several times in a row.
We enjoyed a sticky Tokaji dessert wine to round out our meal, which inspired pleasant memories of the weekend we spent in Budapest earlier in the year.
All in all, we spent a lovely evening forgetting about the cool nights outside end embracing our artistic sides; I’ve intentionally not shared much of the artwork adorning the walls, as you’ll need to visit for yourself and enjoy the exhibition in my unshared London secret.
This special 3 course menu is available with wine pairings at the Hyatt Regency Hotel until the end of November, and we all very much enjoyed our evening of Churchill style indulgence. I think both he and Clemmie would have appreciated the unfussy but delicate flavourings deftly put together.
Do you enjoy menus with a twist?