I absolutely adore a long, relaxed lunch. So much so, that given the choice between daytime and evening dining, nine times out of ten I’ll choose the lunchtime option - for a couple of very good reasons.

For a start, there’s far less rush at lunchtime. A 1pm reservation gives plenty of time for prepandial drinks, a leisurely journey through the menu, then coffees, digestifs, and, if the mood takes you, a stroll to mitigate some of the calorie consumption. There’s no need to worry about how late it’s getting or whether you’ll be able to get up in time for the following day’s activities. The daylight also gives you the chance to really appreciate your surroundings - especially if your destination has an attractive al fresco space.

Both of these reasons are especially pertinent at Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel, which earlier this year completely refurbished its bar and dining experience with the launch of Montagu's Mews - named after, and inspired by, Elizabeth Montagu, the original resident of number 16 Royal Crescent, host of the Blue Stockings Society, writer, salonière and advocate for women’s education.

Great British Life: Royal Crescent Montagu's Mews Royal Crescent Montagu's Mews (Image: Pete Helme Photography)

To reach Montagu's Mews you pass through the main hotel reception and take a meander through the breathtakingly beautiful gardens which somehow manage to look wonderful all year round. As you enter the Mews you’re immediately embraced by a feeling of serenity, with the bar area off the left and the dining area to the right.

The Royal Crescent has always been pretty, but the new look, with soft hues of dusty rose, burnt orange and creamy vanilla, along with carefully curated collection of furnishings and attentively designed lighting is the epitome of elegance and modern luxury, creating a wonderfully relaxed space which Ms Montagu would have surely enjoyed immensely.

I’ve no doubt that she would have approved of the menu too. The kitchen team is headed up by Martin Blake, who joined the Royal Crescent in 2021, bringing with him more than 12 years of experience at some of the South West’s best hotels and restaurants. The menu has a strong focus on locally-sourced ingredients, reflecting Martin’s passion for showcasing the best produce from local farmers and suppliers.

The lunch menu is small, but perfectly formed - with a choice of three dishes on offer for each course. Even with a limited number of options I found myself struggling to choose as every single one sounded very tempting. Martin has cleverly created dishes taking familiar, comforting flavours, but elevating and enhancing them to become something exceptional, both in terms of taste and presentation.

Great British Life: Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle: Crispy Hen's Egg Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle: Crispy Hen's Egg (Image: Emma Dance)

In the end I plumped for the the crispy hen’s egg. Crunchy on the outside but yielding to reveal a soft, slippery golden yolk, the egg was accompanied by air-dried ham bringing a whisper of saltiness to the dish, and bright, crunchy vegetables a la grecque adding texture and sharpness to cut through the richness.

My companion’s citrus-cured Lock Duarte salmon with confit lemon and mooli was beautifully balanced, with just the right amount of lemon to enhance, rather than overpower the fish.

My main course was a braised lamb shoulder - butter-soft and wonderfully more-ish, with delicately spiced lentils, a sweet tomato fondue and a crispy anchovy making perfect plate fellows. It was a cleverly conceived dish with each element bringing a different texture and flavour profile, but all singing together in perfect harmony.

Great British Life: Royal Crescent Montagu's Mews Royal Crescent Montagu's Mews (Image: Pete Helme Photography)

Across the table a bowl of riso pasta with basil pesto, roasted courgette and aged Parmesan was an interesting twist on a classic risotto. With the fresh, almost sweetness of basil paired with the salty cheese, it was comfort food at its very finest, proving that in the right hands even the simplest of dishes can be truly exceptional.

I managed to convince myself that a burnt butter parfait would be a suitably light way to end my meal, but how wrong I was! The parfait devilishly decadent, with the burnt butter adding a toasty, nutty note. Crunch came from a spiced streusel crumb, while a blackberry sorbet and fresh blackberries brought a tart freshness to cut through the richness.

Great British Life: Burnt butter parfait, a tart frshness to cut through the richness. Burnt butter parfait, a tart frshness to cut through the richness. (Image: Emma Dance)

A sliver of muscavado tart, with an agen prune and creme fraiche ice cream made an elegant finale to my companion’s meal with the tart offering a deep, treacly flavour that danced between sweetness and bitterness.

Still not quite willing to leave, we extended our lunch with coffees and petit fours, and thanks to the location of our table in the indoor/outdoor conservatory part of the dining room we could look out over the picture-perfect garden as daylight began to give in to dusk.

Having run out of excuses to extend our visit any longer, we wandered back through the grounds and the hotel, looking longingly at the spa and promising ourselves a treatment on a return visit, and peeking in on the hotel’s cosy looking lounge, we both agreed that a long lunch at Montagu’s Mews might just be the best way to spend an afternoon that we could possibly think of.

Lunch at Montagu’s Mews costs £27 for two courses or £33 for three.