Hotel Du Vin Bistro

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3 reviews
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The Sugar House,
Narrow Lewins Mead,

(0117) 925 5577

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byCeline Asril21/05/2008
Hotel Du Vin is all about old-school elegance and the restaurant, despite outward appearances, is a relaxed, buzzy place that welcomes all sorts.

The Venue
Almost everything about Hotel Du Vin screams business. It's plonked in the financial area of town for starters and has a host of cool features including a small evergreen fountain garden with an imposing chimney, a polished glass facade, smartly dressed staff and a sweeping spiral staircase at the reception.

Hotel Du Vin is only an easy place to find if you're looking for it. The modern glass structure above the entrance may be a showpiece, but it's easy to ignore in this architecturally diverse town. The short tunnel at the entrance is also a bit intimidating and may make you want to just keep walking.

The outward air of haughtiness is carried indoors, with impeccably dressed staff and swanky decor. The Bistro at Hotel Du Vin is made up of two rooms with a gastropub-style front room and a more elegant, sophisticated dining room in the back.

The front room, the smaller of the two, is casual and has a low ceiling, sturdy wood beams, comfy sofas and armchairs for seats. This room also acts as an anteroom to the old European-style glamour of the main dining area. As you enter the dining room you'll see glittering glasses set on sturdy mahogany furniture, which is dotted Roman pillars and off-white walls.

The few windows let only enough light in to bounce off the glasses. Even with all that going on, the room feels spacious. The prim waiters and seasoned maitre de can ease along the tables.

The People
The restaurant gets busy with hotel guests who haven't yet managed to venture in Bristol, and locals who are out for a special meal. It looks like a Parisian bar and it's got that same Continental, relaxed feel with families and couples, both young and old, happily chatting over their meals. The service is unrushed, but not sloppy. It's one of those places where they'll leave you alone while you think about dessert.

The Food
The atmosphere is a complement to the traditional European menu. For lunch, there’s a choice of two menus - regulars and specials. Regular starters go for around £7, mains between £12 and £15, and desserts £5. Lunch meal deals are available for £10.95, which includes a main and a glass of wine from a selection of four.

The starter, a grilled sardine on a bed of herbed couscous with rocket salad (£6.75), is a good way to start the meal. A plump, perfectly grilled sardine is set on cool, flavourful couscous, with sweet tomato and peppery rocket. The first bite is an explosion of flavours, and the subsequent ones reveal its many subtleties.

The Drink
Despite the name there's a very small amount of wine offered by the glass. Ninety-five percent of the wines are sold by the bottle and prices go from as low as £20 to well into the thousands. The Merlot special (£2.95) starts out a bit flat, but ages by the sip. A bottle of still water goes for £3.95, so you might be better asking for tap.

The Last Word
Don't be intimidated - the sophisticated facade is just a front to keep the good food and wine under wraps. Lunch deals are a bargain.
Hotel Du Vin Bistro has been reviewed by 3 users

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