We’re big fans of spoiling ourselves at SaucyPans, and there are few better ways to do that than with French food & wine – and so when Hotel du Vin asked if we wanted to sample some of their new autumn menu, well, you can imagine how our little hearts lept with joy and excitement.
Hotel du Vin is tucked away just off Lewins Mead in the centre, housed in an old sugar warehouse. The building itself is old and gorgeous, with a nice little terrace out front for warmer evenings.
Inside, you’re treated to a series of low lit rooms – the bar is small but well-stocked, and the dining room is more expansive but has an equally intimate feel. I also award bonus points for how comfy the seats were – these things matter!
Once we were seated we were given some time to peruse that new menu – take a look at the treats they have in store below and you’ll see why it took me so long to make up my mind.
I mean, how am I supposed to choose between beef bourguignon and cassoulet, let alone all of those otherwise appetising items?? In general though, this latest menu is a nice selection of rustic and comforting dishes alongisde some reliable favourites in case you’re not feeling too adventurous or Gallic-minded.
Next we were treated to some top notch wine recommendations from our dedicated sommelier Daniel – I particularly enjoyed hearing the stories behing each of the wines he suggested along with some general wine factoids. We ended up settling for the Odfjell Orzada Carignan; a very unusual red from Chile, originating from a vineyard originally set up by a Norwegian shipbuilder – what did I tell you about the interesting stories??
As you’d expect, the service at Hotel du Vin is first rate – we were given a warm welcome on arrival and our waiter and sommelier were both helpful and attentive without being invasive or too forceful with suggestions. They’re a lovely bunch, and I felt well looked after all evening.
Anyway – food! To start I opted for the chicken liver parfait with sourdough toast and raising chutney (all absolutely spot on) and my companion went for the wine-cured smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraîche (which also elicited two emphatic thumbs up).
We’d made a good start, and neither of our appetisers were too rich or dense to make us concerned about not being able to polish off our mains – which is a good thing too, as we’d both opted for the heftier dishes on the menu.
I ended up choosing the chicken cassoulet, which also came with pork belly (2 decently-sized chunks) and merquez sausage, it was a sizeable portion and I ended up having to pass my skillet over to my friend to finish – unheard of for me and my insatiable appetite!
My friend had the Choucroute du Vin – a German-influenced Alsacienne dish of smoked sausage, bratwurst, pork belly and sauerkraut (ooof!). Another hit, and ideal stodge for this time of year. One for the meat fans, for sure.
Of course, all of that wasn’t quiet enough – we also had to order the Tartiflette de Savoie as a side, which complimented both of our dishes very well and was like a smokier dauphinoise potatoes; they didn’t scrimp on the cheese or pancetta either, hurrah!
Finally, we were persuaded to have dessert (not much of a challenge, despite both being fairly stuffed by this point) – I decided to try Iles Flotantes (meringue floating in a thin custard) as it was one of the lighter options on the menu and something I’d never tried before. It was good, but nothing too exciting, but then I’m not sure how excited I was expecting to be about a meringue in custard.
My friend went for a classic tarte tatin, and lovely it was too.
We had a great evening at Hotel du Vin – it was just the right side of decadent without feeling too showy or pretentious. It’s not the cheapest option in town, especially if you decide to go off their extended wine menu, but there are various deals and special offers on throughout the week.
It’s also worth checking out their Christmas options – or pop along for their Wine Wednesdays. I’ll be back again soon for sure.
The Sugar House
Narrow Lewins Mead
Bristol BS1 2NU
T: 0844 736 4252
Disclaimer Doodle: This meal was complimentary, but we were not asked to write a positive review, or asked to send any copy in advance, or do anything else that would compromise our mega integrity and professionalism*.
*I still have no idea what terroir means.