15th November 2016 12noon
A colleague and I decided to be a little extravagant at lunchtime and visited the Bistro within Hotel Du Vin. The place was empty so we were shown to a window table (which also was a very generous sized table for two). We had the choice of the a la carte menu or the fixed price menu. The fixed price menu had several varied options so we went for that. We even managed to order the same dishes of smoked mackerel to start followed by sea bass. We also eyed up the desserts, hoping we’d have enough room later to fit one in.
The starters arrived in a timely manner. The mackerel was cooked well and was intermingled with beetroot, carrot and a drizzling of sour cream. The mackerel was supposed to be tea smoked, which I didn’t overly notice whilst eating but it wasn’t a detriment to the dish. However, overall, the dish was very pleasant and a good start to the meal.
Onto the sea bass. This was stunningly presented – simple but impressive. The fish was cooked perfectly. It came with a panzanella salad of hunks of fried bread, tomatoes, peppers, capers and then finished with a nasturtium pesto. This was absolutely delicious, fresh-tasting and satisfying. Every element worked perfectly in harmony.
We were tempted by the desserts (no surprise) but if you are a cheese lover, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a cheese option for dessert at no extra cost. We both opted for the Ile Flottante (floating island). When they brought it out, I was surprised to see it sitting in a large Pyrex bowl. This wasn’t the sophistication we’d experienced in the earlier courses. Sitting atop a wooden block did not improve the presentation either. Odd. Anyway, regardless, the dessert was lovely. It was rather large but the custard was thick and full of a beautiful vanilla taste. The meringue was sticky but moreish. The toffee sauce probably wasn’t needed as it probably pushed the dish into the sickly realm but that didn’t stop either of us polishing it off.
Generally very nice food is served here. Just a few tweaks are needed for it to be excellent.
Food – 8.5/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 8.5/10
Overall – 32/40
Would I eat here again? Yes, the lunch deal is good.
Cost around £50 for three course fixed menu for two plus a glass of the house champagne