L’entente Cordiale

Sam Harrington-Lowe gamely explores the new season’s Hotel du Vin menu

Never one to shy away from an edible opportunity, when the team at Hotel du Vin invited me to come and try out their new seasonal menu, I didn’t hesitate for a nanosecond. And there’s nothing better than having a fat lunch with a good mate, so a wild and windy afternoon found me and actor Julie Graham headed for the arduous task of reviewing a three course menu, with matching wines. It’s a hard life, etc.

Welcoming the change in seasons, Hotel du Vin Brighton have launched this autumn approach to wining and dining with a range of new offerings that pairs the coziness of great British comfort foods with classic French wines and dishes.

It’s a very happy marriage, including such wild cards as duck shepherd’s pie or Toulouse sausage and mash. Many of these heart-warming classic dishes, perfectly paired with a glass of red or white, come in at a very reasonable £14.95 (ex vino), and the sommelier is always on hand to advise on the best wines to go with them.

We kicked off with a gigantic Sloe Gin spritzer, which is a sloe and champagne bucket of loveliness, before heading into the starters. Being a feisty Scot and therefore a bit brave and a bit mad in equal parts, Graham plunged straight into a steak tartare which was, apparently, utterly stunning. I went for a more sedate whipped goat’s cheese and heirloom beetroots number, which was as beautiful to look at as it was delicious to annihilate.

Duck shepherd’s pie had me from the start, I didn’t even pause for thought, and Julie chose the fish pie, which was just a heavenly mix of mash and seafood. The duck shepherd’s pie (surely it should be duckherd’s pie?) was rich, sumptuous and completely over the top. I loved it.

I’ll tell you about pudding in a sec but I must also tell you about the head sommelier, Zigmar, who appeared, without being at all intrusive or in the way, before each course to suggest a glass of something marvelous.

For those interested – and this is after all a place famous for doing good wine – it was a white Rioja from Antea for the goat’s cheese, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (2013) for the steak tartare, Portuguese Quinta de Lagoalva for the duck pie and Toques & Clocheres Chardonnay 2009 for the fish pie. We couldn’t fault him on his choices, sterling job all round.[one_half]

Pudding. Well, having made total pigs of ourselves over the wine and the rest of it, we managed about half of our puds – but felt it our duty to at least try. Ms Graham went for (the most enormous) crème brulee where I valiantly threw myself at treacle tart and clotted cream ice cream. It was all good.

Inability to walk or breathe aside, this was an amazing lunch and I’m already planning a trip back again to explore more of this delicious Anglo-French dalliance. Raise your glasses ladies and gentlemen; vive l’entente cordiale!

Hotel du Vin
2-7 Ship Street,


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