Everyone knows the best way to welcome someone in from a torrential rainstorm is with a large glass of fizz. At (ironically) their summer menu tasting, Hotel Du Vin went one better, welcoming us with a blind tasting of four different varieties; the challenge was to identify Champagne, French Cremant, Prosecco and English sparkling wine using only our eyes, noses and tongues.
I’m definitely more of a gin girl so it was no surprise that I put in an abysmal performance, scoring a solid 1 out of 4. More surprising was the fact that the Nyetimber, the English sparkling wine, took the title of all round favourite. Maybe this Brexit thing will be okay after all. Sod off France, and take your inferior fizz with you.
Actually…please, please don’t. After tasting the French-inspired summer menu I want to stay mates with our closest neighbours more than ever. There are two menus in play at Hotel Du Vin; the à la carte and the Prix Fixe menu, which is obscenely good value at only £17.95/£20.95 (2/3 courses). It’s also served in what is, in my opinion, one of the loveliest dining rooms in Brum. High ceilings, and panelled walls adorned with lots of art gives it a traditional, intimate feel without straying into stuffy territory.
I start with the English charcuterie board. Whilst not as pretty as some of the other starters which arrive (the smoked salmon, for example, is served theatrically under a glass cloche filled with smoke), the generous helping of meat is well sourced and flavoursome. I personally don’t love the pickled carrots and cauliflower that accompany it – I think they’re too big and clunky – but I still enjoyed the dish. I claimed a mouthful of the Scallops Ceviche from my neighbour/boyfriend (relationship perks); they are light, fresh, and very much deserving of their place on a summer menu.
My main is a rack of Yorkshire Dales lamb, served with pea, bean and goats curd salad. It’s a tried and tested flavour combination, cooked well, although it will set you back £26.95. If it were me, I’d save £11 and plump for the crispy porchetta dish, my favourite of the entire evening. Roasted pork is served with a thick “French Onion Soup” sauce, apple sauce and crackling. It’s rich, simple and utterly delicious.
For dessert I opt for Crepe Suzette, served with a side of theatre as they flambé the pancakes with butter, brandy and orange at the table. Classic and fun, it’s a great end to the meal.
As is to be expected from a place who’s name literally translates to ‘Hotel of Wine’, dinner is accompanied by an abundance of naughty grape juice. For summer, Hotel du Vin have curated a collection of wines made from the Pinot grape. Featuring bottles from around the world, it’s great to see some more unusual regions sitting alongside the classics. A Slovenian Furmint-Pinot Blanc is one I’ve tried before and happily revisited, though a Brazilian Pinot Noir failed to impress. Their main wine list is extensive, and their sommeliers knowledgebale, so you’re sure to find a bottle to suit when you visit. And you should visit. Hotel du Vin is serving up good, solid Gallic-style food, in a beautiful setting, with lots and lots of wine; it’s a no brainer.
Thank you to Delicious PR for the invite. As always, my honest views and opinions.
Find Hotel du Vin on Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NR