It seemed a little bit ridiculous to venture to Brighton in the middle of winter but I suppose you are never guaranteed good weather at the beach in England so at least if you go in winter time you know exactly what you are getting yourself in for. The wind whipped off the sea churning it into a frenzy against the pier. It didn’t matter to us though as we were snugly ensconced in the comfy surrounds of Hotel Du Vin.
We were having a girls lunch to celebrate the lovely Mez’s upcoming wedding so we started with prosecco for everyone in the bar adjoining the dining room which was filled with huge leather sofas and seemed to be designed with this sort of event in mind.
The dining room itself has the air of a shabby old Victorian salon with high ceilings, large gold mirrors and magnums of champagne arranged in rows. Our waiter was friendly and quite accommodating although he was a little vague on some aspects of the menu and the wine list (for example he told us there was no prosecco on the menu until we pointed out we had just ordered a bottle of it at the bar).
Hotel du Vin is a hotel as the name suggests so the food falls into that hotel food category of being reasonable enough but not particularly exciting. A starter of of tomato and pecorino cheese galette was rich and creamy with a crisp crust of pastry encircling it (£6.75). The salmon fishcakes with alioli and mixed salad had a crispy exterior but were strangely flavourless being more akin to a giant circular fishfinger (£6.75).
The duck confit with dauphinoise potatoes (£14.95) had a nice crisp skin but the meat erred towards being overcooked and there was not enough of the red wine jus to add some moisture to the meal.
Confit duck leg
The apple crumble was laced with cinnamon to add a little spice but the crumble topping tended to be a little soggy. A better choice was one of Hotel du Vin’s “dessert cocktails” such as the espresso martini to finish off the meal with a combined sugar and alcohol hit.
The atmosphere at Hotel Du Vin is lovely but the food is not really notable enough to make it worthwhile returning if I do ever manage to make it back to Brighton when the sun is shining.
Details: 2/6 Ship street, Brighton BN1 1AD (Ph 01273 718 588)
If you want to read other restaurant reviews outside London you can try this one for The Miller of Mansfield in the Cotswolds or this one for The Queen’s Head in the Lake District.