Review: Hotel du Vin’s new look & menu - a French inspired classic in Birmingham

Hotel du Vin’s bar and restaurant in Birmingham city centre has had a makeover and a got a new menu - here’s how it’s looking and tasting

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It’s one of Birmingham’s most charming destinations which has been a city centre landmark since Victorian times.

It’s hard to imagine that Hotel du Vin, on Church Street - just off Colmore Row behind The Grand Hotel - was once an eye hospital, helping to save the sight of local people from 1883 to 1983.

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The grand exterior may not have changed too much over the past 140 years, but you can certainly see a dramatic change on the interior - and its popular bar and restaurant areas have recently been updated further.

French inspired dining has been taken to another level in Birmingham over the last year - with sky bar and restaurant Orelle opening around the corner at 103 Colmore Row.

We were invited to try out the new offering at Hotel du Vin where the French influence has been flowing for decades. Here’s how we got on at Birmingham’s beautifully reimagined classic destination - which has attracted a wealth of celebrities and business leaders over the decades.

Bubble Bar

The reception area was as stunning as ever when we visited on a Thursday evening. The marble flooring, elegant staircases and pleasant plants make for a beautifully breathtaking entrance.

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The sunlight was gleaming through the courtyard where a party of people had gathered, but we weren’t there to join their gaiety and chatter.

We made a swift left and entered the newly-ish named Bubble Bar for our pre-dinner cocktails. Bright and airy with its huge windows the pale blue decor created a serene welcome - perfectly complementing the French inspired appeal - along with the comfortable and stylish pale gold seating.

The bar was buzzing with atmosphere - with a friendly and helpful team ready to serve, which was a treat to see. The cocktail menu was impressively extensive with a mix of classics, some tempting signature creations, a host of spritz cocktails, Champagne cocktails, gin and tonic serves - and some non-alcoholic choices too.

Reception area at Hotel du Vin, BirminghamReception area at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
Reception area at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham

The French Fizz and Provence Rose Crush certainly looked tempting on the signature list, as did the Ruby Port & Prosecco option on the Spritz entries.

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However I settled on a Classic Champagne Cocktail with Lombard Champagne, Hennessy VS Cognac, Angostura bitters and sugar. A real treat - and not normally something I would go for.

There was a perfect level of fizz and the depth and variety of flavours married together perfectly. Each sip was unique as the drink went down, closer to the decadent sugar lump at the bottom of the glass.

My friend opted for a classic Cosmopolitan made with Absolut Citron Vodka, Cointreau, lime, cranberry. I was advised this was a very refreshing option with a pleasant buzz. Served with a complimentary serving of pretzels and snacks it was a luxurious way to begin our dining adventure.

Bubble Lounge at Hotel du Vin, BirminghamBubble Lounge at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
Bubble Lounge at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham

The Bistrot

After leaving the Bubble bar we made the few steps over to the bistrot - just over the opposite side of the hotel entrance. We were greeted with warmth and efficiency by staff - and the dining room looked absolutely stunning.

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The long Victorian windows were among the impressively beautiful highlights of the medium sized restaurant where tables where glasses gleamed on tables comfortably distances to provide both privacy and atmosphere. There were a few parties already seated as we arrived and the atmosphere was pleasantly charming.

We were excited to view the French style menu designed by Hotel du Vin’s Chef Director Matt Powell, who, we were advised, has put a modern British twist on classical French dishes - which are regularly revamped throughout the year to celebrate the best of every season.

Tiger Prawns starter at Hotel du Vin, BirminghamTiger Prawns starter at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
Tiger Prawns starter at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham

The À La Carte menu was as comprehensive as the cocktail menu - with so many options to try - all clearly brought together in different sections. We had a choice of Entrees, Grillads, Plats Principaux, Sides, Sauces and Desserts.

We were on a mission for three courses, so our first stop was the Entrees. Our waiter was on hand with recommendations, which was most welcome.

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I was very tempted by the Roasted Black Pudding & Waldorf Salad, but instead decided upon the Tiger Prawns, served with chilli, garlic, pastis butter and alioli dip.

I momentarily considered this might be a messy option as a dish of water was brought over and a napkin. However, my concern was in vain as my prawns- which looked divine coated in seasonings - were perfectly cut from their shells. They oozed flavour and texture once I plunged my fork in.

Carmelised Onion & Garlic Tart starter at Hotel du Vin, BirminghamCarmelised Onion & Garlic Tart starter at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
Carmelised Onion & Garlic Tart starter at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham

My friend chose the Carmelised Onion & Garlic Tart, which consisted of sweet caramelised onions packed onto a homemade pastry tart, served with roquette salad with a parmesan crisp on top. It looked stunning with its rocket topping and she said it really was a treat to taste.

For my main, I decided to follow the advice of our waiter and plumped for the Roast Porchetta, a richly delicious dish of creamy polenta, gremolata and pork jus. It was a melt in the mouth sensation and definitely a uniquely, unforgettable combination of flavour. A magnificent meal to savour.

Roast Porchetta dinner at Hotel du Vin, BirminghamRoast Porchetta dinner at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
Roast Porchetta dinner at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
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My friend chose the Pallote of Seabass, served freshly steamed with a paper coating ensuring it was as moist as possible with fennel, carrot, leek and ginger. We also tucked into a spectacular side of glazed carrots and haricot vert.

Desserts are a real treat at Hotel du Vin, so if you’re going for a two course option - make sure you make it a main and pud. My crème brûlée was a triumph - don’t think I’ve had one better. So creamy, so smooth, with a perfectly toasted sugar topping.

I wasn’t even jealous as my pal’s stunning Baked Alaska arrived and was set alight in style. It was a beautiful creation of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet, genoise sponge, baked under an Italian meringue.

Baked Alaska dessert at Hotel du Vin, BirminghamBaked Alaska dessert at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
Baked Alaska dessert at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham

The wine

So a dinner at Hotel du Vin can’t be completed without tasting the eponymous wine. There was certainly a wide selection to choose from - and they’re not all French!

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This is where our waiter really was so appreciated. He helpfully and diligently spoke us through the list - and came up with an excellent recommendation. We enjoyed a sublime Californian Chardonnay from Kendall Jackson. It was smooth and packed full of real wine - golden to look and golden to taste.

Amazing wine selectin at Hotel du Vin, BirminghamAmazing wine selectin at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham
Amazing wine selectin at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham

Our conclusion

A dinner at Hotel du Vin is one of the best ways to treat yourself in Birmingham. It’s a charming destination, packed full of character, and the food is the perfect combination of being hearty - and sophisticated. Definitely one to pop on the to do list if you’ve not been before, or left it a while since your last visit.

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