V for Very Good – Glass dines at the The Churchill Hotel restaurant, London

1931 – Winston Churchill exclaims “Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to [just] eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately.

80 years on and I’m sat at his namesake. The Churchill Hotel, on Portman Square, London, getting ready for dinner at The Montagu Kitchen. Of course, Winston himself isn’t in charge here, and I’ll make an early clarification that the restaurant certainly doesn’t 3D print its chicken – theirs are very carefully selected from a top farm in Norfolk.

Rather, The Montagu Kitchen is in the supreme hands of Executive Chef, Roger Olsson, who, having held positions at both The Ritz and the Dorchester, was also part of the 2-Michelin star team at Pied A Terre, just down the road in Fitzrovia.

Montagu Kitchen Whitstaple Rock Oysters

So then, why begin with this intriguing quote from Britain’s most famous former PM? Well, aside from the shared Anglophilism, it’s the combination of Churchill’s maverick approach and somewhat more meaningful undertone of efficient and responsible dining, that is embodied throughout The Montagu Kitchen.

But sentiments aside, what does this mean for the menu?

Montagu Kitchen Restaurant Interior

In a snapshot, its mindfulness in the form of great oysters, not from off the coast of Brittany, but Whitstable. It’s inventiveness through dishes like the crispy rosette, a beautiful visual that tastes of the best fish and chips you’ve never really managed to find, packaged into a just a few bites. And, its patriotism, exemplified by dishes like the Norfolk quail wellington.

Put another way, Olsson is a chef who is conscious of the environmental impact of ingredients, adds surprise and allure to the familiar, and just a couple of times, knows when to leave things just the way they ought to be.

Montagu Kitchen Norfolk Quail Wellington

Therefore, in case you hadn’t guessed, The Montagu Kitchen can be described as modern British cuisine. Modern, in this case, also means the dishes are for sharing. Which after a couple of years not sharing much at all, is a welcome way to dine.

Olsson, like many, spent the pandemic evaluating his practice, which in his case, involved dissecting what it means to eat out. He wants the experience to be a social one, which if he can, looks to get the sitters doing a little more than just eating. A good example this on the menu, is the Mortar & Pestle. Once ordered, expect the delivery of an oversized pestle and a mortar filled with beef tartar.

Topped with a neatly balanced, thin layer of sourdough and wood sorrel, all that’s required next, is the most confident member of your dinner party to break and churn this crunchy layer of sourdough into the beef. This tactile process results in a juxtaposition of textures and an even more satisfying combination of flavours.

Montagu Kitchen Mortar & Pestle

For more surprises, try the Scotch egg, with its blackened exterior crumb and seafood epicentre. Or, The Churchill cucumber, a curry-spiced combination of gherkin, sour cream and local London honey. A detail in the grand scheme of the menu, but it’s also an example of something truly unique to this restaurant.

For lessons in cooking honest ingredients to a tee, from the Hooked section of the menu, the soft textures of the Cornish mackerel with aubergine and butternut squash is a fine choice. While from the Farmed section, try the Manor Farm organics lamb, reared in Wiltshire, and complete with swede, pine nuts and anchovies to bring out the best of the meat flavours.

Montagu Kitchen Restaurant Sign

On the sweet side of things, the sticky toffee pudding would be the classic epilogue to the meal, and what I suspect Churchill would choose himself, after a failed attempt by the Nazi’s to kill him via explosive chocolate.

But for those with an untarnished relationship with chocolate, the Valrhona chocolate and hazelnut is the way forward. Think Ferraro Roche. But bigger. Better and handmade by Roger’s team, just a few feet away from your table.

Montagu Kitchen Sticky Toffee Pudding

It’s difficult to not be impressed by The Montagu Kitchen, but for all the great food and wine on offer at this establishment, there’s only one fitting way to conclude. One thing you just can’t beat. That Churchill himself, said he never quite had a cup big enough for. It’s tea.

Ask for the restaurant’s signature blend, as its not available anywhere else in the world, and wallow in the meals culinary triumphs. V for Victory.

by Sam Eccles 

Hyatt Regency London  – The Churchill
30 Portman Square, London, W1H 7BH

+44 0 20 7486 5800