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One of the disadvantages of living out “in the sticks” as Jeanne refers to my quiet and picturesque corner of Oxfordshire is the problem of getting home from London. During the week the last bus from Reading leaves at a few minutes after 11. If I miss it there is a £40 taxi fair to pay. This all means I generally have to leave whatever fine event I’m attending early for a mad dash to Paddington. Last night I excused myself just after the dessert course arrived. I did manage a tiny spoonful of each but was so tempted to slip the whole plate into my camera bag.. you know, just for sustenance during the journey home. As it was a sweat-inducing dash up Baker Street was required for that last train…

The evening had been spent exploring the new Tapas food range at the Montagu Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency. Under the gaze of Saatchi-loaned art works (One Giant Leap exhibit running until May) including the imposing 3 metre tall sculpture of two bearded men, myself and a couple of other writers endeavoured to try tapas and fuller fare against a variety of wines form the Riojan-based LAN winery. (See Spittoon for details of the wines)

The variety of dishes presented, to me, worked much better with a white wine. Not a Riojan white but one from Rias Baixas, an Albarino. The crips, lemony, herby palate complemented the mix of seafood, croquetas and vegetable dishes much better than the reds.

As the evening continued the lights were lowered hence the rather poor quality of the dessert shot in the gallery below. Each of these dishes, smaller than the sharing plates we were served, will come in under £5; good value I thought, especially for a 5-Star hotel restaurant.

With the aim of bringing the traditional flavours of Spain into the West End of London, Bodegas LAN and the chefs at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill have created a unique collaboration that combines seasonal dining with traditional Rioja winemaking, both delivered with a philosophy of high quality and creative execution.

For an ‘unforgettable culinary treat’, the Chef’s Table overlooks the open plan kitchen at The Montagu restaurant. It offers a front-row seat to see the fast-paced life of a chef at a five-star hotel. With personal, one-to-one interaction whilst watching the masterful chefs’ artfully crafted dishes come to life, diners at the Chef’s Table are treated to an experience like no other, tasting dishes presented by the chefs themselves.

Chef de Cuisine Carlos Machado and his team have created a spectacular menu in a pairing that highlights the “La Rioja” region wines of Bodegas LAN through the use of traditional Spanish cuisine, combining tapas with a variety of main courses.

Tapas Dishes

  • Chupito de Gazpacho y Gamba – Gazpacho with Prawn Skewer
  • Tosta de Pimentos de Padron con sardina a la sal – Fresh Green Peppers and Toast with Salted Sardines
  • Tostada de escalibada y seta – Honey-roasted Vegetables and Toast
  • Morcilla de burgos con huevo pochado de codorniz y guisasntes – Spanish Blood Sausage with Poached Quail Egg.
  • Tortilla de Patatas – Traditional Spanish Omelette made with Potatoes
  • Pulpo a la Galega – Delicious Strips of Octopus Marinated with Sweet Paprika and Olive Oil
  • Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Pan Tostado, Tomate Rallado – Iberian Ham served with Toasted Bread and Finely Grated Tomato
  • Croquetas de marisco o jamon – Crispy Seafood or Ham Croquettes

The ‘Mains’

  • Caldero de Bogavante – A Lobster Stew with Spanish Rice mixed with Herbs, Green Peppers and Spices.
  • Sorbet de Naranja – An Orange Sorbet Dripped with Liqueur 43 in preparation for the main course.
  • Secreto de Cerdo con Trompetas de la Muerte y pure de Romanescu – Labelled as ‘secret’, this fine cut of pork used to be kept by butchers for their own personal use.With black trompete mushrooms used to entice the full flavours of the meat and a light Romanesco puree to accompany it.

Now I loves me a little morcilla and, while the quail egg was hard rather than soft and runny, this was a delicious little serving. The Octopus was hot and spicy (it killed the red wines) and, finding a quibble, the rice served with the lobster I thought too salty. But overall rather good.

And then the hurriedly tasted desserts..

  • Crema Catalana – a Catalan Crème Brulee
  • Tarta de Almendras – Almond Cake with Custard Filling
  • Torrijas con helado de manzada asada – Slices of Toast, Soaked in Sweetened Milk and Vanilla with Baked Apple Ice Cream
  • Arroz con Leche – Hot and Sweet Rice and Milk Pudding
  • Fresas Frescas con nata– Fresh Strawberries served with Cream

The Montagu restaurant’s Wine Bar will be offering up a Tapas menu from GBP 4.00 per plate with the Bodegas LAN wines available by the glass and by the bottle. The Bodegas LAN Chef’s Table launches on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 and will be available until 9 April 2012. The Chef’s Table seats five to nine people and is available at lunch or dinner throughout the week at GBP 55.00 per person for five-courses, including Bodegas LAN wines. An optional 12.5% service charge will be added to the bill.

With such a fabulous view of the kitchen I managed to snatch a few photos of the staff working. These I’ve put together as a little essay on my photoblog (and also on 500px).


  1. Yum and yum. Must head over – particularly for such small prices. It’s been a while since Rioja was number one on my choice of vinos, and perhaps for no good reason has it taken a lower place of late. Chef’s table also sounds ace!

  2. David says:

    Food looks and sounds fantastic. If you were to eat there tomorrow, which dishes would you choose?

  3. OMG where was I?!?! I’m a total sucker for tapas and this sounds wonderful – particularly the morcilla and the the Jamon Iberico de Belotta (my desert island food!). Very reasonable price too, considering the location.

    And aah yes, I remember well how we have on occasion had to dash out of events to get you home before pumpkin hour in the sticks (plus the occasional text from you saying you had missed the last bus and were considering weaving… I mean walking home ;o)

  4. Mary says:

    If I keep reading your blog, and looking at your pictures, I may have to plan a trip to England… and specifically London to go eat some tapas (I love tapas!).
    Now I’m hungry. Thanks a lot.

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