Recently I joined a group of food bloggers at Bistro du Vin on Church Street to meet the new GM and test run the summer menu.
Moving over from Malmaison, the boutique hotel’s new manager is Tom Gallimore. He’s tall and likes to drink wine, so I instantly warmed to him. His invitation to dine in the bistro was most welcome, especially after hearing rumblings of some big changes to the menu. Apart from a recent afternoon tea at the hotel, the last time I had dinner in the restaurant was back in April. The rustic French offerings were lovely – I particularly enjoyed the Bouillabaisse – but with a heatwave currently turning us all into liquid humans I was hoping for some lighter choices. Thankfully this was the case.
After a glass of wine in the Bubble Lounge we took our seats for dinner in the bistro. Kicking things off a chilled seafood platter arrived, alongside a few starters to share. The Fruits de Mer is a real spectacle, and for £69 I’d call it an absolute steal if you have 4 of you to share it. A bounty of Salcombe crab (I bagged a claw, the dream), lobster, oysters, shell on king prawns and squid came served on ice with lemon and dipping sauces. The presentation was almost as gorgeous as the seafood adorning the platter. This requires pre ordering if you fancy trying it, and would be more than enough for 2-3 as a whole meal, or 4-6 for a sharing starter.
A selection of other starters hit the table including Escargots À La Bourguignonne (£11.95 for 12), Toulouse Sausage (£6.75), and Caprese Salad (£7.95) with Isle of Wight tomatoes. I enjoyed the garlic snails most from these; an ideal lighter starter. The sausages were succulent and juicy but there was enough red onion to bring on almost instant indigestion so I only snaffled the meat. Whilst many of these were lovely its a tough gig to follow that mountain of seafood, and that remained my standout part of the meal.
The summer menu is full of fish dishes and for my main I opted for the Sea Bass en Papillote (£14.50). Baked in parchment with chunks of fennel, salty olives, lemon and thyme, the scent that burst out of the paper once opening the parcel was divine. Fresh, fragrant and packed with flavour, the fish remained perfectly moist. I had mine with a side of spinach as well as some fries; it’s not a large portion of food so you need the sides, especially if you skip a starter. Others tried the Roasted Cod (£16.95) and Steak Tartare (£14.95).
Dessert came three-fold (sorry not sorry) with a pudding, a cheese board and an espresso martini. I’d blame the wine but I’m just greedy. Crème Brûlée (£6.95) was classic in presentation, a layer of crisp caramel topped the rich custard base, gently infused with vanilla. Light custard made this less stodgy dessert a winner for me, with a satisfying crack of brown sugar as the spoon broke the seal. I like that there’s a wide surface area so you get more sugar to crunch through. Being that I shared my dessert I couldn’t resist a taste of the cheese trolley (£11.95). This is a fine selection of French and British cheeses (the goats cheese was delicious) served with biscuits and chutneys.
Truth be told, I’ve not actually had a bad meal at Bistro du Vin – whether I’ve eaten as an on duty food blogger or as a wife, daughter, or friend. This new menu update offers perfect seasonality and combines the best of French and British flavours, served by professional and polite staff.
Will you be trying the summer menu at Bistro du Vin? Let me know in the comments.
Bistro du Vin, Hotel du Vin, 25 Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NR
Disclosure: I was invited to try the new menu as a guest of Hotel du Vin Birmingham and Delicious PR in return for honest feedback. My meal, on this occasion, was complementary but all words, photos and opinions are mine.