Restaurants & Bars 1

Crescent in Montcalm Hotel, London

magnolia | Jan 26, 200206:02 AM

I have had a silly prejudice against hotel dining rooms for awhile but what I ate last night at The Crescent restaurant, in the Montcalm hotel near Marble Arch last night goes a long way toward convincing me otherwise.

It was, to quote another, 'the bargain of the century'. 2 courses for £20, 3 for £25 – including ½ bottle of house red (Merlot) or white (Fr. Chard) each and probably other stuff but once we got stuck in, we forgot to keep track. The main menu doesn’t list the puddings so you take a chance – if you feel you can only handle two courses – that you’ll like the puddings. I took that chance, and was very happy. The starters looked great but the main that I was going to choose was so heavy that I thought I’d save my appetite. I confess I can’t recall what the starters were but there were several – a soup, some roasted vegetables & glazed goat’s cheese, something with foie gras, and at least three more…as well as salads; Mains included almost one of everything – i.e. lamb, beef, rabbit, a couple of fish, a scallop & herb risotto, and one veg option which my friend chose: a large, refined vegetable samosa…and pig’s trotter stuffed with foie gras, which is what I had. It was a very generous portion of thick, juicy meat - almost caramelised, served with spinach and red cabbage and it was divine. It was the first time I’ve ever had pig’s trotter.

They have a small, un-outrageously priced wine list, with nothing heart-stopping - mostly 94’s, 97’s, 98’s, 99’s…about 10 bottles each of sparkling, red & white…and a few dessert wines, with three-four options by glass per category. I asked the waiter to recommend a wine to go with it, and he pointed to a claret, Ch. Cantenac St Emilion – which was on the menu as a bottle - I said ‘but I only want a glass’ and he said ‘no problem.’

Re: the décor – very comfortable, unintimidating – tables are well-spaced, and several have their own little ‘nook’ which is really nice, as you cannot easily see or hear the neighbours, good for privacy and conversation.
Beautiful but simple flower arrangements on each table and on the low walls that break up the room. . There was a pianist but he/she was in an adjacent room so the music is more in the background, between the restaurant and the large, hotel lobby which I thought was a really nice touch. The nook we occupied had a plaque on the wall that says “Frederick Forsyth often entertains spies and assassins at this table” – not sure which I would be considered, probably a spy…

Re: the crowd, not much of one…on a Friday night. Several hotel guests, Japanese businessmen (the hotel is a Nikko), a few couples.

The whole meal – two courses, bottle of water, a glass each of wine from the menu (in addition to the complimentary wine, of which we didn’t really take much advantage, about a glass and a half each) and a generous tip – the menu states “we don’t include tip because we feel it should be a reward for good service” – came to £30 apiece. I expect my standard, samey Chinese meal tonight will cost nearly that.

Go before the chef moves on!

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