French cuisine is not exactly famous for being veggie friendly, and for this reason alone I had never bothered to visit Hotel du Vin, a very highly thought of hotel, bar and bistro. When I was invited down for a bloggers’ event a few weeks ago, however, and actually looked at the menu, I was excited to see that not only were there things I could eat – the meat-free options sounded lush! If you’re yet to give Hotel du Vin a go, maybe for a similar reason, read on to find out why it should definitely be added to your list!
Upon arrival I had a drink in the bar, which was luxurious in a traditional, understated way, with high ceilings and well dressed bartenders. It also helped that this happened to be the evening of the Birmingham Young Professional of the Year Awards, so there was a lot of tux and ball-gown action that gave the place an even more sophisticated feel! We were then invited to a blind tasting of sparkling wines, which, though it revealed my abysmal sense for these things, was really informative and ran by the general manager Tony, who was incredibly friendly, welcoming and helpful.
We then headed on through to the main dining area – again, high ceilings, old-time French decor and a general sense that this place wasn’t trying to be fancy, it just was. We were soon brought round a choice of breads as an appetiser (try the tomato if you’re ever visiting) and a choice of wines, whilst we browsed the menu. Hotel du Vin are currently running a fixed price menu that is fantastic value (£17.95 for two courses or £20.95 for three) for the quality of the food, however I opted for the a la carte as there was a little more scope for veggies.
For my starter I had the soft boiled goosnarch duck egg with asparagus soldiers. The egg was cooked beautifully and had the perfect consistency, whilst the asparagus was tender and heavily salted, which dipped into the yolk was certainly a good thing! If you eat fish this starter also comes with a brown crab mayonnaise, but it genuinely was a killer starter even without this addition.
Next up I opted for the aubergine caponata and grilled haloumi. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from an aubergine stew, but I was seriously pleasantly surprised. This dish was packed with flavour – from olives, capers and a rich, earthy sauce to the saltiness of the haloumi. And to ensure it remained a filling dish, it was served with three fresh, soft flatbreads which were perfect for dipping. I would order this again in a heartbeat!
Finally, as if I haven’t done enough gushing, we come onto dessert, the chocolate bomb. This is everything you could want from a dessert – a rich, chocolately bomb swimming in caramel sauce. Will it make you feel sick? Probably. Will it be worth it? Most definitely. The dessert is served by pouring the hot sauce over the gold chocolate sphere, which then melts to reveal even more chocolatey goodness. Not often is the dessert the killer course – but this time it really stole the show.
Overall, Hotel du Vin offers a feeling of traditional luxury, and the food and the wine on offer reflect this reliable, un-gimmicky sophistication. Whether you’re stopping for a drink in the bar, or going all out with a three course meal, I feel fairly confident this place won’t let you down. In addition to this, any French restaurant that also gets their veggie options spot on gets a thumbs up from me! Thank you to Tony and everyone at Hotel du Vin for having us and for being so hospitable – see you again soon!