The Montague on the Gardens tucked away a stone’s throw from the leafy environs of Russell Square, may be not enjoy the celebrity status of some of Red Carnation’s top tier of properties, such as The Milestone for example, but has enough of owner Beatrice Tollman’s trademark artworks and fancy knick knacks about it to leave no doubt of its provenance. It is a stylish boutique hotel with all the hallmarks of Red Carnation’s service and its snug AA Rosette winning Blue Door Bistro is certainly an eatery worthy of a mention.
As a summer venue its part outdoor terrace location alongside one of Bloomsbury’s hidden gardens is a genuinely lovely way to spend a balmy evening or an afternoon tea amongst some exclusive topiary. During summer the outdoor barbecue section conjures up some fine smoked grill dishes but in winter though expect to be moved inside to the hotel’s main room.
The Blue Door Bistro may be relaxed dining, but it still has crisp linen tablecloths, fine china and an impressive array of glassware not out of place in more formal settings. Our starters were so laden they were more like main courses. I tucked into a hefty duo of Irish and Scottish smoked salmon clearly freshly sliced (£10.50), while my partner enjoyed a delightful Arbroath smokie fish cake with poached egg and chive butter sauce (£9.50). Owner Bea Tollman’s love of cooking is evident in the menu with her personal favourites marked by a carnation logo, a bold statement if ever there was one; the pressure’s going to be on to deliver. So naturally I pick one; her chopped steak with cafe de Paris butter and chunky chips (£22.50) which turned out to be a minced steak patty. Slightly disappointing as I was perhaps expecting something a little more spectacular as a Bea favourite.
That said, my partner’s corn-fed chicken breast with Chanterelle mushrooms and watercress puree (£18.50) was very easy on the palate. Other menu options included pan-fried sea bass with champ potatoes, globe artichokes and vine tomatoes (£22) prawn stroganoff with basmati rice (£19) another Bea favourite and a selection of grilled dishes such as rib-eye (£24.50), Barnsley lamb chop (£19.50) and Wagyu burgers (£19.50).
A slim dessert menu (£7 each item) included another Bea suggestion Vanilla Cheesecake and honeycomb ice cream, definitely one for sugar lovers that. As a footnote, the team won brownie points for coming up with an off menu sugar free coffee accompaniment for my diabetic partner, fresh fruit petit fours and a bowl of nuts and seeds. Full marks for that.
The Montague on the Gardens will always provide a warm welcome and the Blue Door Bistro is a perfect spot for an informal and affordable central London meal if you find yourself amongst Bloomsbury’s leafy lanes.
All images (c) Andy Mossack
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