A Wednesday Night at Bistro du Vin – Hotel Du Vin Review
Wednesday night at the Bistro du Vin vibrates with quiet conversation; the gentle swing of the kitchen door adding pulse to the ambience. It’s good to see that mid-week dining has not gone out of fashion.
The Bistro is part of the Hotel du Vin, one of the more iconic hotels in a city of icons, close to the seafront and the Lanes, it brims with old-world charm and elegance. The Bistro, which forms part of the ground floor of the hotel, has the warmth of tradition but with a classic, modern edge. It is four- star comfort without being straitlaced.
Elegance and Tradition
The hotel is built on the site of an old wine merchants and the Bistro has an exceptional wine selection to match its history. There are two wine lists to choose from – the leather-bound sommelier-led option and the choose-it-yourself wine menu which, for a Wednesday night, was our preferred choice. Both are thoughtful selections featuring old world and new world wines with an ample nod to the French origins of du Vin.
Our menu for the evening is the Prix-Fixe Menu, made up locally sourced ingredients cooked in the classic bistro style. There are three courses on offer with three choices for each course and you can choose either two courses for £19.95 or three courses for £24.95.
A Resplendent Feast
We are treated to a pre-starter of crusty bread (baked in house) with olive oil and the most delicious balsamic vinegar, both sourced from secret locations in Italy. This combination alone makes a midweek Prix-Fixe worth going out for and yes, we ate most of it before our first course arrived, knowing full well that we were ruining our appetites.
To start we chose the Mackerel Rillettes with Blackdown gin cured cucumber carpaccio and horseradish cream and the roasted pear, Sussex Blue and caramelised pecan nuts. Both plates are a feast for the eyes and stomach, but the favourite was the pear and Sussex Blue. The pear retained its crunch while the cheese was given in measured amounts so that it didn’t overpower the dish but offset the sweetness of the pear with a salty kick. The caramelised pecans on top added a grounding base on the pallet.
Not to be forgotten is the mackerel and cucumber carpaccio – a dish we lovingly named ‘the queen’s cucumber sandwich’. The mackerel had been gently smoked and combined with horseradish cream then served on a mandala of crisp but thin cucumber and sprinkled with mustard seeds. The gun powder kick of the mustard in sync with each bite of the smoked mackerel and tangy carpaccio.
On to the Mains
For our mains we chose the stuffed portobello mushrooms & grilled High Weald organic halloumi along with the Hepworth Pullman beer battered haddock with a side of roasted potatoes and once again, our senses were heightened at first glance – the red of the arrabbiata sauce against the white of the halloumi; the stacks of crisp haddock against the gentle cream of the shallot velouté. We dig in with gusto and find that the arrabbiata sauce has been cooked to perfection, the mushroom is stuffed full and cooked to al dente; the slices of halloumi are generous and have been grilled then placed on top of the mushrooms. Cutting into stack makes the couscous tumble out into the sauce and soaking up the flavour.
The haddock is cooked so that the batter is crisp and light; each fillet is a generous size without being overly thick. Protecting the crisped batter from soaking in the shallot velouté is the sweetcorn and pea fritter that adds yet more flavour and substance to the dish. A nice touch is the sprinkled thin slices of fried kale, reminiscent of nori and just as crunchy.
Ending on a Sweet Note
Dessert arrived at a leisurely pace with enough time for the replenishment of glasses and a natter and even though we were full to brim with gorgeous food, we made some extra room. Our desserts were the Ridgeview Cavandish sparkling wine and strawberry mille-feuille and the Mojitea loose leaf Bird & Blend tea vanilla cheesecake.
The winner for us was the mille-feuille – the combination of strawberry and cream is the taste of summer. A special mention goes to the cheesecake for its inventive use of local tea company Bird & Blend Mojitea creating a creamy, minty treat that was expertly complemented by the crisp lavender tuile.
If you are still hungry after eating like a mid-week champ you can ask the waiter to bring round the cheese trolley, literally a chopping board on wheels bedecked with a selection of fruit, cheeses and port.
Feasting at the Hotel du Vin any day of the week is an absolute must do…
…but if you would like to embrace elegant dining without the crowds, or indeed the price tag, then a midweek Prix Fixe is the perfect option for you.