Montagu Arms’ new look inspired by the New Forest

Alongside a swathe of new awards in late 2016 (the latest being Hampshire’s Best Hotel Restaurant and Best Bistro and Restaurant in the South), the New Forest-based Montagu Arms Hotel has been undergoing a quiet transformation, investing £400,000 in their kitchen and restaurant.

The new space provides the backdrop for a menu overhaul at The Montagu Arms, with a host of new dishes for The Terrace Restaurant.

A £300,000 re-build of the Montagu Arms’ kitchen was completed at the end of last year, with the restaurant remaining open throughout. Designed by head chef and Roux Scholar Matt Tomkinson, the new kitchen features the largest induction cooking suite that catering experts Control Induction have ever created. The re-build has propelled the hotel’s cooking facilities into the 21st century.

An additional £100,000 has been spent on the Terrace Restaurant’s interior, giving it a fresh new look for 2017. New dining chairs, carpets and artwork have been brought in to create a ‘Timeless English Forest’ feel – perfect for its location.

Tomkinson’s brand new a la carte menu includes such succulent choices as ragout of Shetland cod with autumn vegetables, white beans, hazelnuts and mushrooms, or caramelised veal sweetbreads ‘Grenobloise’ with baby spinach, black garlic puree and confit lemon, followed by well-presented delicacies such as grilled day boat ‘Fish of the Day’ with sprouting broccoli, toasted almonds, crispy oyster and verjus butter sauce, or honey roast breast of free range duck with a tarte fine of caramelised endive, celeriac puree and lightly peppered sauce.

Puddings are just as grand. Choose from lemon meringue pie with basil sorbet and orange salad, warm, salted caramel fondant with cider lolly sorbet and crème fraiche, or dark chocolate cremeaux with walnut ice-cream, coffee macaroon and milk chocolate mousse.

There’s a new Signature Tasting Menu on offer, which includes a selection of dishes that The Terrace has become rightly famous for. By popular demand, Tomkinson’s Assiette of Apple has made a return to The Terrace and now features in this selection (all the apples come from the Montagu Arms Hotel’s owner’s back garden in nearby Pennington!). For more adventurous foodies, A Surprise Tasting Menu is also available. Tomkinson creates a surprise five-course tasting menu from the best of the day’s seasonal produce. Menus are not presented at the table; instead dishes are described to guests as they are served.

When it came to updating the décor at The Terrace Restaurant, inspiration was all around.

Designer Sue Stowell said: “We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom and I wanted to incorporate elements of forest life into the new design.”

“The scheme, which I called Timeless English Forest, needed anchoring and I found the perfect thing – the design of the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, which now hang in the Victoria and Albert Museum,” she says. Stowell used the 600-year-old tapestries’ design – featuring stags, boars, bears and otters – as the inspiration for the restaurant’s new carpet, richly-patterned on a dark green background, sourced from nearby Wilton.

She also wanted to lighten the Terrace and this meant taking the bold step of painting the ceiling and beams in a pale, soft cream, to draw more light into the space.

The colours from the carpet appear again on the two types of dining chair now used in the restaurant; a wooden carver based on a brass-studded, 16th century design, upholstered in green velvet; and a modern, straight-sided chair upholstered in a patterned, deep rose velvet.

Elements from the carpet design also appear overhead, in the delicate floral stencils added to the beams by artist Joy Porter. The design has been completed with the addition of new artwork on the restaurant’s panelled walls.

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