Hotel Du Vin, York – Restaurant Review

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By Roger Crow

Maths was never my strong point at school, because it lacked context. Who cares what 10% of anything was when the percentage was of nothing?

But applied to a great dining experience, something very close to my heart, it makes a lot of sense.

My culinary co-pilot and I have never been to Hotel Du Vin, York, though it’s relatively easy to find this twilight autumnal evening. It’s 6.30 and the rush hour stress melts away as we park up in the spacious car park and enter the elegant hostelry. What a beautiful establishment, tastefully decorated, with delightful staff.

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Once at our table, we peruse the menu, but the lighting is a little too dim. A quick word with Jack, our excellent waiter, and we start discussing percentages. My theory is 40% lighting for an evening setting. Too much it ruins the ambience; too little and punters struggle to read the menu. And as the lights improve, so does the experience. In fact it improves a lot, or maybe that’s the glass of Lanson Rose.

Rachel and I share a bowl of olives and a delicious focaccia for starters, all of which goes down a little too well. My main is a simple plate of Breaded Plaice Goujons with moreish pomme frites, watercress salad, tartare sauce, and one of my favourite things, lemon wrapped in muslin. Nothing worse than picking lemon pips out of your dinner, so obviously no such problem here.

Our attentive sommelier, Yantshi, is naturally keen to pair our delicious dishes with the right wine, and she also does a terrific job, though after a fruity G and T, one slender glass of Lanson Rose with my fish and I’m a happy camper. There are hints of rose, pomegranate and raspberry, which is very refreshing, and goes very well with my plaice. (It marries very well with fish and salad).

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I do love one of those dining experiences that lasts all evening, and if we had more time I’m sure we could have had the right wine with every course, but sometimes less is more.

Rachel has a glass of Kendal Jackson Chardonnay, a Californian tipple with notes of tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango and a rich undertone of vanilla.

It pairs very well with her Pumpkin and Sage Gnocchi. Her main is delicious, but around 5 to 10% too salty for me. However, the pasta is absolutely spot on, as are the delicious green beans. They take me back to one of the greatest unsung chefs of the seventies and eighties, my much-missed grandad, Albert, who grew all of his own veg in his allotment, and his green beans were to die for. So, like the end of classic Pixar movie Ratatouille, I’m transported back to many a meal in which he would plate up green beans, and I wouldn’t know how lucky I was.

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That nostalgia factor is always a thread that ties us to great meals, as is terrific service.

The cool jazz soundtrack that accompanies our meal is equally engaging. Muzak can be annoying if done wrong, such as the time I reviewed a hotel north of the border and the same awful song played on a loop until I begged the staff to turn it off. No such problems here.

So I leave some of my main because I’ve had my eyes on dessert from the start, and when it arrives the Pistachio Craquelin Choux Bun with pistachio ice cream does not disappoint. Rachel’s Apple Tarte Tatin with vanilla ice cream also meets with approval, which is no easy feat as she’s one of Yorkshire’s fussiest eaters.

hotel du vin york restaurant review 2022

“Glorious time”

Before we wrap things up we’re given cappuccinos, which amiable waitress Lydia claims are fantastic, and she’s not wrong. Great banter is everything in a good restaurant, and the chat with Lydia and all the staff at the Hotel du vin certainly ticks that box. It’s also a pleasure to meet head chef Stan, who I imagine feels more at home in the kitchen creating culinary masterpieces, but he deserves a good solid handshake.

Autumn can be a melancholy time of year as we reflect on the summer that passed us by in the blink of an eye, but it’s also a glorious time, especially if we make the effort and explore new places when we might rather hunker down and hibernate. A great meal obviously adds to the experience, and a few hours at the Hotel Du Vin makes our day 100% better.

We can’t wait to return one day and sample more of those impressive wines, that delicious menu and Lydia’s tremendous cappuccinos.

Merci beaucoup, as we say in York.

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