We met in the courtyard for a refreshing glass of something (beer for the men, white Alsace wine for the women) but were forced in to the whisky snug by inclement weather. The whisky snug is a warm and comfortable bar, with cozy sofas and armchairs. Here, we were overcome by hunger and asked for the bar and a la carte menus.
There’s a good selection of interesting food on the menu, with burgers for comfort and beetroot gnocchi for interest. I have eaten at the Hotel du Vin twice before and both times it was great. This time, they didn’t get it quite right for my taste, but don’t let that put you off the venue. The service is always friendly and attentive, the wine excellent and the food inventive.
Boo for cheese soufflé
The cheese soufflé at Hotel du Vin looked and tasted like a pyramid of baked egg whites with a mild cheese sauce on the side. A savoury meringue, lightly dusted with cheddar. It wasn’t the cheesy dish of joy that we were expecting but bland and overly eggy. It was large for a starter but that didn’t help: we’d not recommend it. So let’s move quickly on.
Hurrah for dressed crab
The dressed crab on the other hand was fabulous. A great main dish. The russet crab shell was filled to overflowing with white and brown crab meat: lightly dressed, fluffy, rich and creamy. A stripe of egg yolk and parsley decorated the top, separating the white meat from the central cache of silken brown, without interfering with the taste. To accompany the crab were thin strips of toasted raisin and walnut bread. The warm flavour and crisp texture perfectly matched the crab. It was a perfect, perfect dish that didn’t need the half lemon in muslin that came with it.
I’d happily recommend Hotel du Vin to anyone but if you want a good cheese soufflé, head to the Fox, North Waltham, Hampshire.