I recently posted about the new à la carte menu available in the Bistro at Bristol’s Hotel du Vin – and last week we were lucky enough to be able to head over to the city centre hotel and restaurant to try it out for ourselves. I’ve been lucky enough to dine at Hotel du Vin a few times, and never tire of the stunningly decorated dining room – an ornate and beautiful place, but with a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and plenty of buzz.
The new à la carte menu retains its popular grill section, but offers a range of additional French bistro classics for meat eaters, fish lovers and vegetarians alike. On the side of the menu you’ll find the more accessible wine list, starting from £20.50 per bottle for the house wines, while you’ll also be given the book – a huge wine list carefully curated by HdV Bristol’s sommelier, with a great deal of choice and some eye-wateringly high prices!
Our meal began with a complimentary bread basket served with both butter and a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the arrival of the bottle of house Merlot that we chose to accompany our meal.
I started with the sautéed mushrooms (£6.95): a mix of mushrooms drizzled with garlic butter and piled on top of a slice of toasted brioche. The mushrooms were beautifully soft and the garlic butter, I was pleased to see, not overly pungent or overwhelming. The brioche was toasted perfectly…but if I had one complaint, it would be that the slice I was served was a little too thick.
For Chris, the mussels steamed with Normandy cider, apples and young leeks (£7): a generous portion, and a starter that didn’t disappoint. The mussels were perfectly cooked and the sauce rich and plentiful.
The oven roast pork belly (£17.50) stood out to me from the main course menu, and it was beautiful. Thin, crisp crackling sat on top of a layer of perfectly rendered fat, the meat itself lovely and succulent. The pork was served with a wedge of dauphinoise potatoes, layered with a pungent Meaux mustard and topped with crispy grilled cheese. All this richness was tempered by the sweetness of the Agen prune sauce and accompanying whole prunes. We were told that this was proving to be one of the most popular dishes on the new menu – and I could certainly see why.
Chris was swayed by the beef Bourguignon on the bone (£19.50) – a dish so rich and generous in its size that he struggled to finish it. Essentially a deconstructed beef stew, this was a stunning plate of food: the braised beef short rib fell off the bone at the smallest touch of the fork, the shallots, large chunks of smoked pancetta and the whole Portobello mushroom all contributing to the classic French flavours. A true winter warmer – but not one for those with small appetites.
We also ordered a side (£3.95 each) of pommes purée, a typically French mashed potato with vast amounts of butter, and wilted spinach with whole cloves of roasted garlic. We’ve had issues with gritty spinach at Hotel du Vin before, but this time it was perfect – £3.95 does seem a little steep for the side orders, though.
The dessert menu has also seen some new additions, but it’s good to see that the classic crème brûlée (£7.95) is still present. One of Chris’ favourite desserts, the Hotel du Vin take did not disappoint: the custard creamy and flecked with vanilla, the caramelised topping thin but perfectly crisp.
Last time I enjoyed the full three courses at Hotel du Vin, my dessert was a little disappointing…but this visit more than made up for it. In all honesty, I would quite happily have gone back just for dessert the following night – and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth!
Hotel du Vin’s raspberry soufflé (£7.95) was, without a doubt, one of the best desserts I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. It certainly looked impressive as it was brought over to the table, and the magic didn’t stop there: once in front of me, a cross was cut in the top and the soufflé was filled with a warm dark chocolate sauce before being topped with a dollop of Crème Chantilly.
The vivid pink soufflé was perfect cooked with a wonderful fresh raspberry flavour, and the warm chocolate sauce and cold cream added a contrast of textures and temperatures as well as a variety of different flavours to keep the dessert interesting right to the last mouthful.
Bar the niggle with the brioche in the starter and the overpricing of the side orders, this truly was a spectacular meal, and well worth the premium price tag. Special mention must also be made of our waiter, George, whose impeccable service, knowledge of the menu and friendly and warm approach really did make our evening.
As ever, a beautiful meal in a stunning setting – very highly recommended.
Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.