Fresh Summer Menu at Bristol’s Hotel du Vin.

Bristol’s Hotel du Vin sits in the city centre — a grade II-listed sugar warehouse converted into a stylish restaurant and hotel. With traditional decor, attentive staff, non-stuffy service and relaxing feel, it’s somewhere I’ve been fond of for a while now.

Following a visit last winter — when my menu choices were all dark meats, deep reds, and heavy puds to match the season — I was recently invited back to sample the new summer menu. The à la carte menu still offers the same fresh ingredients and bold flavours as ever, but the seasonal prix fixe is where my attentions lay.

I was idly scanning the wine list when the waiter sidled up to take our order, and offered the services of the in-house sommelier. Instead of choosing one bottle to accompany your meal, you can choose one glass per course. Knowing what we’d ordered, the sommelier arrived and took us through the wine options — with obvious knowledge and passion for his product. This is a very lovely touch indeed, and allows diners to listen out for the flavours which best complement the food.

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Mrs. C went for the kale and butterhead Caesar salad to start, and that’s obviously fair enough. But if I had to live on a desert island and survive on one food item, cured meat would be it. With that in mind, I started with the Woodall’s black combe air-dried ham, and found it delicate and full of flavour. The ham arrived elegantly laid out on the plate alongside perfectly formed balls of Galia melon and a little greenery for effect — a fine balance of meat and fruit if ever I saw one.

The Normandy chicken salad arrived next, with roast chicken, Roquefort cheese, avocado, soft boiled eggs, pancetta and tomatoes arranged neatly over a bed of lettuce and topped with crunchy brioche croutons. I wouldn’t normally opt for salad as a main for fear of leaving the table hungry, but there’s no danger of that here. Mrs. C went for the grilled Cornish mackerel, and the feedback was very positive.

When the plates had been swept away, our friend the sommelier returned with the third and final round of wines he’d selected to match our meal. Muscats and sweet wines from Italy dominated the selection, and complemented the poached peaches to perfection.

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Hotel du Vin’s summer fixed price menu costs £17.95 for two courses and £20.95 for three. Menus are inspired by seasonal ingredients with a strong twist of French flavour, and you’ll find more information on the restaurant’s website here.

Images courtesy of the Hotel du Vin.

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