An English duo of dining delights

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JACKIE: David’s sentimental journey last winter offers you a special peek off the beaten track. My main memory of the Montagu Arms is when a couple of donkeys blocked the entrance, a reminder of the entitlement of the animals of the New Forest…worth waiting for.

The Terrace Restaurant, New Forest

DAVID: Before this recent trip to Beaulieu, my last visit to The Montagu Arms was shortly before the owner, Lord Edward Douglas-Scott Montagu, died at the age of 88.

Lord Montagu owned not only the excellent hotel and restaurants, but also the 13th century Beaulieu Manor House on 9,000 acres (in his family since 1538) and the very successful Motor Museum with one of the world’s greatest collection of cars, and most of the chocolate box village along with its Beaulieu Abbey and River! He was also a very nice guy.

…my main course of venison made me
ask for forgiveness from Bambi…

Britain was quite different in 1954 when Lord Montagu was jailed for being homosexual. The case was sensational, provoked outrage, and led to a new law in 1967 no longer making homosexuality a criminal act. The right to love the one you choose was now legal!

Also changed for the better is the Terrace Restaurant at The Montagu Arms. Head Chef, a member of the prestigious and exclusive Roux Scholars, Matthew Tomkinson, has brought wonderful new menus based on the excellent local produce of the Forest. My Sunday luncheon was enjoyed surrounded by festive diners and overlooking the courtyard with a beautiful tree ready for Christmas.

I started with champagne, of course – a very pleasant Tattingers Brut along with gigantic green olives, various nuts and assorted mini rolls. Starter was a duo of crisp (really crisp but melting inside) salmon and salt cod fishcakes with saffron rouille and pickled cucumber bits. (Son Dean would have loved this dish.)

Then I graduated to a very special Krug champagne to accompany my main of Roast Loin of Pondhead Pork with duck fat roast potatoes, glazed veggies and apple sauce (it was on the bone, a favorite of Jackie’s). My pudding (dessert) would have been a treat for daughter-in-law Sheri – lemon meringue pie, perfectly tart and creamy and with unique basil sorbet. Finally, decaf espresso with luscious petit fours and I was wishing my family had been with me to share the remarkable efforts of a Master Chef.

Wiltons Restaurant, London

About 90 minutes away, another outstanding dining destination has been wowing patrons since the year 1742. It became the newest wow-ee! It began as a simple stall selling oysters, shrimp, and cockles. “Simple” became a sensation and after several relocations, Wiltons (no apostrophe) became a proper restaurant in 1840. The move and the wait proved worthwhile; Wiltons received two Royal Warrants – Purveyor of Oysters to Queen Victoria and to the Prince of Wales.

 I fervently hope it will continue to reign supreme as long as oysters are in the sea.

My extraordinary dinner started with (what else!) a gorgeous Billecart Salmon rose champagne and was served by a young lady to match. My bubbly was accompanied by a half-dozen oysters (of course!), three each of West Mersea Native #2 and Loch Ryan Native. All local and as my menu notes say, “bye-bye, Belon – best ever.” I munched on excellent warm bread while admiring the warmth and simple elegance of the room. The meat of my native lobster cocktail was like velvet, and my main course of venison with beetroot and pickled brown beech mushroom made me ask for forgiveness from Bambi along with congratulations for my taste buds. I enjoyed the dish immensely along with autumn truffle pomme puree (truffles, another wow!) and a 2012 St. Emilion Grand Cru les Cadrans de Lasssegue. One more glass of champagne to wash down the dessert of Amedei chocolate fondant with almond and orange and I was regretfully leaving my table to the next exceedingly lucky guest.

My sincere thanks to Georgie Smith, Events and Marketing Manager, for introducing me to this wow of a destination. The current address of Wiltons on Jermyn Street makes it convenient to the West End theatre district, and their pre-theatre menu is the best value for money I can possibly imagine. Long live, Wiltons, and may we meet again!

JACKIE: We’re leaving soon for a spring adventure in France, wine country anyone? We’ll travel and we’ll talk…

Jackie Joseph-Lawrence is a writer and actress best known for her TV roles as Alan Brady’s niece Jackie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the voice of Melody in the animated “Josie and the Pussycats” and as Jackie Parker on “The Doris Day Show.” David Lawrence is a writer/producer responsible for TV series episodes of “Mash” and “That’s Hollywood” along with movies and mini-series including “Highjacking of the Achille Lauro” and “Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues.” Lawrence & Lawrence write regularly about travel for The Tolucan Times.

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