Originally said to be created in celebration of the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, and his victory at the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815, the Beef Wellington is once again having a bit of a ‘moment’.
Once enthusiastic home bakers had mastered banana bread and sourdough during lockdown, the more adventurous started to turn their attention to this beefy classic.
Wrapping meat in pastry has been a favoured culinary technique in many countries for many centuries, but that doesn’t make it look any less impressive, and Instagram is awash with homemade creations from cooks keen to demonstrate their lattice cutting skills.
Sometimes, though, it’s worth going to the experts. And where better than The Midland Hotel?
Open seven days a week for dinner, with lunch served Thursday-Sunday, Mount Street Dining Room and Bar offers a modern take on British classics in luxe surroundings.
And when it comes to food and drink, it’s all about celebrating the best of British produce, with classic dishes that suit the elegant hotel dining room.
The all-day menu includes chargrilled fish and lobster, steaks and grill dishes, as well as homemade pies from a chef with a passion for pastry.
There’s a classic chicken, bacon and leek pie, and a modern wild mushroom pithivier – and, of course, a Beef Wellington.
The dish is designed to serve two, and costs £80 including trimmings and three additional sides.
You need to allow a 30-minute wait time. But oh boy, is it worth it.
While we wait, we get stuck into a couple of elegant snacks and starters which demonstrate real skill, imagination and attention to detail.
Smooth smoked chickpea hummus (£4.50) comes with homemade flatbread; nostalgic flaky cheese straws (£4) with a punchy anchovy and chilli dip.
Gently poached quail breast (£10.50) is served with tender confit leg, earthy salt baked beets, crunchy pickled walnuts and a vivid green seasonal broad bean and nettle salsa.
And who could resist lobster crumpets (£15)? The sweet lobster meat is topped with crunchy black and white sesame seeds, lounging in a pool of buttery hollandaise, and the whole thing is an utter delight.
Don’t overdo it on the snacks and starters, though, easy as it is to do, because the show-stopping Beef Wellington is frankly enormous.
The vast board contains two whopping slabs of Beef Wellington, several little fondant potatoes topped with crisp shards of pancetta, tomatoes, a tangle of peppery watercress, and a jug of gravy.
Then there’s the sides – in our case, hand cut chips, crispy onion rings (“you have to try them” insists our server, for reasons which swiftly become evident), and fine beans topped with toasted almonds.
The pastry is beautifully cut, rich and crisp and golden, encasing a rare-as-requested fillet of beef which had been treated simply and with respect, buttery soft, deftly seasoned and pleasingly pink.
Not surprising, given Mount Street’s meat, including their Yorkshire Limousin beef, comes from the hotel’s own in-house butcher, and is aged for a minimum of 28 days.
Those sides are worth shouting about, too.
The chips are some of the best in town, thick cut and sigh-inducingly salty, while the huge onion rings are the stuff of dreams, if you dream about onion rings. Now we do, having tried these ones, that’s for sure.
The shimmering gravy, which tastes as though it’s been an age in the making, brings the whole lot together tidily.
This is an epic feast, make no mistake. And while not cheap, it’s the ultimate indulgence for a special occasion or much-needed treat.
It may be all over social media right now, but the Beef Wellington is no fad.
It’s here to stay. And we couldn’t be happier about that.