With 19 hotels to date in the UK and an ever-growing portfolio it was interesting to taste the new menu to see if Hotel du Vin has managed to maintain its original credentials of luxury boutique hotel with individual charm staying true to the roots of Gallic cuisine.
We ate at the Hotel du Vin Cambridge branch Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a stylish, calm interior with masses of daylight, wooden floors, charming waiters, comfortable seating and a table by the window.
The new spring menu is uncompromisingly classic French (with the strangely non-French rogue inclusion of aubergine and halloumi parmigiana bake and a nod to the zeitgeist with a superfood salad of kale, edamame beans, quinoa and sprouts, which one imagines would be tricky to find on a menu in Bordeaux, where meat tends to be king).
It reads like a list of old, familiar friends, with no added frills or flim-flam: you read it; you know what you’re going to get. Uncomplicated flavours and unpretentious offering such as moules, chicken liver parfait, Toulouse sausages, steak hache, eggs BenedictÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Delighted to find Chateau Bauduc on the menu (house wine at Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein), the bar was set high and starters didn’t disappoint: Saint Maure goats’ cheese quiche with caramelised baby onions offered just the right balance of creaminess and crisp pastry; moules a la mariniere (served Belgian-style with frites as a main if you prefer), were as they should be Ã¢â‚¬â€œ creamy yet briny with sweet little mussels.
For our main courses we went uber-classic: sole meuniere was lightly pan-fried with a caper and parsley beurre noisette and perfectly cooked, while cassoulet classique certainly hit the spot on a chilly’spring’ day: white beans, smoked Toulouse sausage, duck confit and pancetta.
My only quibble was that it was served in an individual black ovenproof dish and slightly dry-looking on top. But the flavours were all there, even if a few more haricot beans would have been welcome. Surprisingly we even managed desserts: ile flottantes with creme Anglaise and creme brulee.
Hotel du Vin doesn’t claim to be offering cutting-edge menus or tapping into the modernity of sharing plates, foams, dirty burgers and drinks in jam jars. Instead, it’s a reliable yet well-executed menu of all the things we love about French food, served with elan.
For more, visit hotelduvin.com