Keri reviews the Hotel du Vin Prix Fixe menu in Bristol’s bistro. Choose from three different starters, mains and desserts for £19.95 for two courses, or £24.95 for three.
Hotel du Vin Bristol can be found in Bristol city centre, located in a lovingly restored old warehouse – originally a sugarhouse – which was later used to store tobacco and then make birdseed. With many of its unique features, such as the big wooden beams, preserved in the renovation, it’s a beautiful place to visit.
I particularly love the cosy Sugar Bar, with its inviting seats and board games behind the bar, but the reason for my most recent visit was a trip was to sample Hotel du Vin Bristol’s newly launched Prix Fixe menu. Created by the bistro’s head chef Marcus Lang, guests can choose from three different starter, main and dessert options created using locally sourced seasonal ingredients.
Hotel du Vin Bristol – the Sugar Bar
Taking Justin along for a date night, our evening began with a drink in the Sugar Bar. As usual J went for a lager – a bottle of Chang – but as he was designated driver I was able to enjoy a Kir Royal. The fruity, sweet bubbles went down a treat; I can honestly say this was one of the tastiest cocktails I’d had in a long time. At £11.50 a glass though, this delightful drink doesn’t come cheap.
After our short sojourn in the bar sipping drinks and munching on a spicy mix of nuts and corn, the duty manager came and took us to our table in the bistro. Sat by the fireplace we had a great view across the restaurant, which is designed to have an old, rustic feel, with paintings and posters over the walls, low lighting, and old wine bottles lining the shelves.
Once seated we were given our menus and left to decide what to try. Even with just three options per course we struggled to pick which dishes to go for, eventually agreeing to share a little of each of our starters and mains so we could try more of the dishes out. Once he’d taken our order, the duty manager brought us a basket of fresh ciabatta with butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
A few minutes later the bistro’s sommelier came to introduce himself, and ask about our wine preferences. As Justin was driving it seemed silly to have a bottle to myself, so the sommelier recommended having a different glass with each course instead and went off to pick the perfect wine to match my tastes and the dishes I’d chosen.
Hotel du Vin Prix Fixe menu starters
A rustic red was chosen to go with my starter, which was the Somerset cheddar and Bristol Beer Factory stout Welsh rarebit croquettes. I’d not had anything like these before, but enjoyed them immensely. The soft croquettes had a very gooey centre with a mild flavour – even Justin, who’s not a cheese fan, enjoyed them. These went well with the crisp gem lettuce leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar and the really tasty balsamic pickled onions.
Justin was also impressed with his starter – a generously-sized ham hock and grain mustard rillette, served with some crisp bread and a Bramley apple and Thatcher’s cider chutney, which complemented the meat perfectly. Moist delicate flavours merged with the different textures of the sauce and rillette, and I cannot say which was my favourite, as I enjoyed both equally.
We really struggled over what to have for our mains as we both love duck but wanted to try more than one of the options. In the end I let Just go with the confit duck leg, while I went for something quite different from my normal choice of main – Shipton Mill buckwheat galettes and poached salmon.
I like a little fish but almost never order it when I go out for dinner, as I usually go for red meat if that’s on the menu. However, when my meal came out I was not disappointed. Three buckwheat pancakes came out stuffed with chunks of soft, moist salmon, root veg cubes (I think it was suede) and spinach on a small bed of dill butter sauce with capers. As I’m a big carb lover I looked at this and wondered if it would fill me up, but after just a few bites I knew my concern was unfounded as I’d discovered it was surprisingly filling.
I enjoyed a smoother Beaujolais with my fish, but I have to admit I also did snaffle a fork or two of Justin’s duck leg, which came with Wye Valley asparagus, baby gem lettuce, potatoes, peas, pancetta and a sauce to die for. This was like rich velvet on your tongue and did give me a slight case of food envy. The duck was well cooked, with a salty edge from the pancetta, and enjoyed immensely by the both of us.
Desserts – there can be only one…
As soon as our eyes skimmed over the dessert options we both knew exactly what we wanted – the chocolate fondant. For me it was the gooey centre that won me over, for J it was the Rodda’s clotted cream.
As they have to bake it freshly there’s around a 10 minute wait for the chocolate fondant but we were happy to take a break from eating. We were rewarded with a gooey dessert, decadently rich to the point that the super sweet Uruguayan red dessert wine was the perfect palette cleanser. J enjoyed the clotted cream but we both agreed that it didn’t really add anything to the fondant and that some vanilla ice cream would have paired better with the dish. Still, overall we were very happy with our choice, and I’m shocked to say it was so rich and filling, that it actually beat me, the queen of cake eating!
The Hotel du Vin Prix Fixe menu’s small choice of options meant I went for dishes I might not have usually, and I’m really glad. I enjoyed the flavours of every dish I tried and am now likely to consider a wider variety of dishes when I go out in the future.
Everything was very well cooked, beautifully displayed and the ingredients complemented each other perfectly. And at £19.95 for two courses, and £24.95 for three courses on the Prix Fixe menu, I’d also say the meal is very well priced.
The Hotel du Vin Bistro is a great restaurant to choose for a special meal, date night or even mid-week treat and one I’d highly recommend.
Our dinner was complimentary for the purposes of this review. However, as always, all views are my own.