Monty’s Brasserie in Cheltenham is a modern bistro-style restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Menus include classic dishes with a twist.
While excellent ingredients and good cooking tick two boxes, it was the sluggish service at Monty’s Brasserie that let its Sunday lunch down.
It’s never nice to start a meal out with tension, but you could cut the air with a knife as one of Monty’s Brasserie’s waiters insisted they had no record of a highchair being booked, shrugging nonchalantly before adding: ‘and no, we don’t have any others available’. But thankfully the rest of the restaurant’s team rallied together to save the day – with a genuinely concerned barman dashing out to borrow one from another eaterie.
When all six of us were finally seated for Sunday lunch – plus our mini party member complete with highchair! – we perused the refined menu, full of anticipation thanks to the selection of favourites on offer, all plumping for two (for £15) or three-courses (£18) of classic fare with a contemporary twist here and there.
While the compact restaurant was full, with just eight or so tables occupied by couples and families, there seemed to be more than enough staff on duty to ensure the service ran smoothly. As a former waiter – used to looking after up to 7 or 8 tables at once – myself, it was a little frustrating having to crane my neck and wait for eye contact to even place a drink, let alone a food, order.
When starters did finally arrive my prawn cocktail with baby gem lettuce was a fresh and delightfully simple dish. The two Thai crispy duck dishes ordered, meanwhile, came beautifully presented with oriental vegetables and sweet chilli – perfect for wrapping in the pancakes before being devoured, and proving a real highlight.
The sluggish service sadly didn’t pick up as our afternoon listlessly continued. And when the anxious wait finally gave way to five roast sirloin of Cotswold beef, and one pork belly dish – all tepidly warm at best – we were too deflated to start complaining.
While the quality of the beef was spot on, served tastily pink, the Yorkshire puddings and roasters had clearly been sat around and were sadly below par. The pork belly was the stand out dish of the day, complete with plenty of perfect crackling cooked to a crisp crunch. And while we all agreed more gravy would have been welcomed, the side dishes of cauliflower cheese were satisfyingly saucy and seasoned well.
More opportunities for customer service and more disappointment followed; it was a shame nobody checked back on us during our main courses, or offered to take drink orders at any point during our entire lunch.
The final dishes of the day were three excellent quality sticky toffee puddings – served with a delicious, quite unique lemon meringue ice-cream. While two almond tarts, think posh Bakewells, were also well made. We weren’t sure about the accompanying ice-cream rolled in oats, but nonetheless it was another good dessert.
Skipping coffee for fear of the long wait ahead, we instead took advantage of the restaurant’s great town centre location – and were on The Promenade within just a couple of minutes.
Having dined at Monty’s Brasserie several times in the past 12-months, it was a shame to see the service letting its usually-solid reputation down and spoiling our Sunday lunch. Having four or five different waiting staff milling around – but nobody seeming to take charge – was a recipe for disaster. Despite this the quality of the cooking was largely good and the ingredients used, as ever, excellent.
If the front of house can iron out its kinks then this restaurant could be one of Cheltenham’s best. We think we can be tempted back to give Monty’s Brasserie another try, but we might be taking our own highchair next time.
By James Fyrne
Thursday 07 February 2013
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