Montpellier’s has previously been a bit hit-and-miss with us here at TNQR, so on hearing it had been taken over by its burger-slinging neighbours Solita, it was a perfect time for us to pop in and check out what’s changed.
There’s only been a quick touch-up from the new owners, so decor-wise it’s still the bare brickwork NQ template that existed before, but there are promises from Solita HQ that it is due to be transformed with their trademark neon creations and colourful artwork.
The first change that is very noticeable is the new range of beers. Hallelujah! The selection of beers provided by the old owners was so uninspiring – the only thing we can remember is not wanting any of them and feeling distinctly awkward at the length of pause when asked by staff what we wanted. Now there’s the same long pause as we try to decide which pint to have – Paulaner, Beavertown Gamma Ray, or Moretti? If none of those take your fancy, a hand pump has arrived which on our visit had a Summertown beer on board, or alternatively the fridges have had an overhaul and now house Sam Adams, Corona, Brooklyn, Fruli and Amarillo amongst others.
As you’d expect with Solita now at the helm, the menu has been overhauled too, with hot and cold sandwiches, pot pies and soup now available. The Chicken and Chorizo Pie and Philly 4 Cheese Steak Sandwich are already tempting us back to be tried, although we may need to enjoy them while we can as it’s rumoured that Solita owner Franco has lined up this place to house his long-promised authentic Italian pizza restaurant in the NQ.
Arguably the best feature of the old Montpellier’s was the sports den in the basement – although sound and signal problems interrupted many games and caused customers to look elsewhere for a more reliable sports viewing establishment. Good news is that the sport is staying and Montpellier’s now list all their scheduled sports games on their website. Don’t worry if your game isn’t scheduled to appear, as they’ve promised to try to get it on one of their screens for you – you’ve just got to ask. The downside to the basement sports bar is that phone signal is non-existent, so keeping an eye on other results and checking the cash out on your weekend bets is a nightmare; fingers crossed for some good wi-fi working down there to give the complete package.
Another tidy little bonus with Solita taking over is that you get 10% off drinks while you’re waiting for a table next door. This is a great touch, although the worry is that Montpellier’s will just become a Solita waiting room. To get this bar going it needs to be a destination of its own, and not a place where people are just passing time before getting to where they really want to be.
There’s still some work to be done, but the initial changes are definitely a step in the right direction. If they deliver on their promises it will be everything the previous incarnation failed to deliver, and no doubt a regular haunt for TNQR.
Food: Pies, Hot & Cold Sandwiches, Soup
Drinks: Beers, Wine, Spirits
Related City Centre Establishments: Solita NQ, Solita Steakhouse
Bongo Rating: 6/10