It seems the loving care and attention of medical staff from the old Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital have been passed down to the attentive staff of the new Bistro at Hotel Du Vin. I say new as, despite opening in 2007, a few years is nothing in the history of this incredible old Victorian building. ★★★★
The main room is warm and welcoming with numerous artworks and framed papers to attract the eye while you settle in with an apéritif to take in the menu. A wide choice is available from a grill of steaks, lamb and burgers to a healthy choice of French classics including Moules Frites, Beef Bourguignon and braised rabbit in cider. As the French aren’t known for being front runners in the vegetarian revolution, it was refreshing to see options that didn’t rely on risotto or spaghetti hoops. But I’ll get more to this treat later.
To start we tried both the Scallops (£12.95), beautifully seared and served with a sauce vierge (tomato, olives and red onion) which did distract a little from the subtle flavour of the scallop, and the Goat’s Cheese Quiche (£7.50), that was both creamy and crunchy with mild flavours from the cheese and encased in a beautiful pastry base.
Our sommelier suggested a Portuguese Muscat (£6.95 per glass), crisp and a little tart, it certainly helped with refreshing the pallet before my main course of Sole Meunière (£23.00). I do love a good fish course and this has to be one of the best I’ve sampled in a long time. Perfectly cooked, the sole had both a moisture and slight crisp to the edge from pan-frying. You can have filleted for your convenience, which after a long week I opted for. Served with a caper and parsley beurre noisette, the flavours worked well together. I also added some sides of buttered potatoes and haricot vert (£3.95 each).
My partner went for the very pleasing vegi option of Aubergine and Haloumi Strudel (£14.00). A large portion takes centre stage, ready for you to explore the chunky tomato, aubergine and haloumi filling. For vegetarians or meat eaters having a night off, this is certainly a dish for you that’s both filling and delicious.
Now, I’m not usually a desserts person… ok that’s a lie. In fact the dessert menu is always the first thing I read. Knowing what treats await the end of a meal could make or break the whole night. I had nothing to fear though as I’m told, “We’re not letting you leave without a dessert”, and who am I to refuse the orders of such pleasant waiting staff.
Again, a list of classic French desserts waited for us, though after a mains of fish it could only be topped with a Tart Au Citron (£6.95), served with a raspberry sorbet. Had I closed my eyes I’d be sat around my mother’s table eating her warm homemade lemon tart. It could quite easily have become emotional! Perfect base, perfect tart, excellently paired with the bitter sweet raspberry sorbet. The Crème Brûlée served to the other half was equally as delicious. A wide dish of baked vanilla custard and glazed crispy sugar top, a classic, what’s not to love here. I could quite easily just visit again for the desert menu.
Having finished our meal we were treated to seeing another table have some Crêpes Suzette Flambé being dramatically whipped up in front of them. Proving that the waiting staff are not only talented in their welcome but also skilled in the art of fire dancing dishes.
Overall if you live in Birmingham or are visiting for the weekend, then a sitting at the Bistro, Hotel Du Vin is a treat you shouldn’t deny yourselves. Perfect for romantic dining or for celebrating something special. As well as a healthy al a cart menu, a prix fixe menu is also available offering 2 course for £16.95 or three for just £19.95.
ADDRESS: 25 Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NR
The UK’s bitchiest agony aunt. Send her your woes if you dare.