Being a bit of a control freak, when I discovered that the new Saturday Italian brunch at The Montagu was a buffet affair, I was secretly rather pleased. Especially as I had double booked on the dining front with a girlie dinner planned that evening – over-indulging would be a total no-no.
The restaurant that afternoon was buzzing with all manner of diners, from groups to hotel residents. The vibe is relaxed yet elegant, and with a table for two overlooking Portman Square, we were greeted with a chilled glass of highly drinkable Prosecco.
There are two buffet tables to graze from – hot and cold. Checking out the cold selection for starters, my eyes immediately locked onto the creamy buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes with red onion, basil and balsamic, and the cubes of tender tuna with roasted cherry tomatoes.
An antipasti platter and parma ham, plus fresh crusty bread provided perfect partners. But the real star of this particular show was the bitter-sweet symphony of spiced poached pear with crumbly blue cheese – divine and more than worthy of a second helping.
More complimentary Prosecco or perhaps a Bellini to accompany your main course madam? Such first world decisions are never easy for a Libran, but I opted for the sweeter Bellini while my dining partner went for a second glass of Prosecco.
Lured by the smell of roasted garlic in the air, the hot section was a feast of Italy’s finest with some surprisingly non-regional additions – design your own pizza, pasta and risotto, or simply sample a little of everything. I decided on grilled salmon fillet with pilaf rice, a jacket potato, plus a serving of simply cooked spaghetti tossed with tomato and garlic. A rather random selection yes, but satisfying nevertheless.
When I got back to the table, another Bellini had miraculously appeared, and despite my initial pledge to avoid too much alcohol or dessert for fear of a drowsy, mid-afternoon episode, I soon found myself devouring a plate of sweet, hot banana cooked with cinnamon and rum, while my partner stayed true to the brunch theme by sampling the tiramisu which was served in a glass, and in his opinion, perhaps not the best presentation.
Completely sated and just a little bit tipsy, we both agreed this would be a great place for a shopping trip stop-off, family or birthday lunch, and who can argue with the price for such an all-inclusive, if eclectic feast? Bravo Montagu!
The Montagu at The Churchill, 30 Portman Square, London, England (United Kingdom), W1H 7BH, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7486 5800, firstname.lastname@example.org