Hotel Du Vin and the Malmaison are part of the same group, so you may wonder why, after such an excellent brunch experience at the Malmaison in Leeds, we opted to go to Harrogate to Hotel Du Vin for a rival Sunday brunch. The simple answer is that we wanted to see if the standards set by the Malmaison could be matched by Hotel Du Vin!
Located opposite the Stray in a lovely location offering a beautiful view of the goings on in Harrogate, it’s quite easy to wander past Hotel Du Vin without realising it’s there. As the name suggests, the property is a hotel first and foremost, but the idea is that you enjoy the food so much that you are simply unable to drag yourself home afterwards! If this is something that interests you, my suggestion would be to visit the Sunday brunch since spending over £75 enables you to get a room (should one be available) at the hotel for only £25, something of a bargain in Harrogate!
We had previously visited the bar area of Hotel Du Vin to celebrate my father-in-law’s retirement, but this was our first visit to the restaurant, and also a first trip out for Charlotte and me away from our beautiful baby girl. You can deduce from that, that Hotel Du Vin is a place for a special occasion and should be treated as such. This made us feel far less naughty as we tucked into the brunch in style!
We sat down at a lovely little table with an excellent view of the Stray. As we are both a touch wary of alcohol after 9 months without it, we opted not to go for one of the cocktails on offer. However, the choice is extensive and the options are excellent. In fact, even the house champagne (having had it before) here is worth splashing out on to give your brunch that extra special feel.
The Sunday brunch offers four courses, but we decided after much deliberation to skip the soup dish (mushroom and tarragon) as we wanted to ensure that we were able to enjoy our mains and dessert without time pressure, especially as we knew we were slightly against the clock when it came to getting back to our little girl.
Much as with the Malmaison brunch, there is a mixed spread on a buffet table, offering a range of charcuterie meats, cheeses, salads as well as pâté and some fine seafood options. As well as this (and in my opinion this was an excellent idea), they leave out a range of different breads for you to cut yourself. Although this may seem a little lazy or perhaps not in keeping with the atmosphere and high level of service, it allowed us as diners to pick the option that most appealed to us and enjoy as thick (or thin) a slice of bread as we liked.
With all the food prepared to a high standard and the range proving to be excellent, this ‘all you can eat’ section of the brunch was an excellent option and would suit almost all tastes.
After going back for a touch more, then realising we still had two courses to go, we sat back and waited for our mains to arrive while sipping on two rather nice coffees.
Charlotte had ordered a true brunch classic: smoked haddock with a potato rosti. I had opted for steak and chips, conscious that as a bistro restaurant I expected my request for rare steak to be fulfilled.
When the dishes arrived, they both looked stunning. The steak was beautifully cooked, rare – not even medium rare! – and the chips thin and crispy. Charlotte was a big fan of the haddock. With the fish cooked very well, without being overly smoked or too fishy, it really hit the spot. The rosti was crispy and cooked excellently. One slightly odd thing was that our dishes came with a side of roasted vegetables. Whilst this would have made sense with the roast option, they just didn’t fit our dishes. in truth, the vegetables we tried (especially the parsnips) didn’t hit the spot either, meaning that they felt like a token gesture that little thought had gone into, which was the opposite impression given by every other part of the meal.
For dessert, we both plumped for a dish that can always define a good (or bad) bistro: apple tart tatin. With the promise of a sweet, sticky and perhaps a touch sickly (in a good way!) pudding to come, the thought of the random vegetables was banished as we looked forward to the final course!
When the puds arrived, they were everything we could have hoped for. Sweet and sticky, with a lovely bit of cream, the wonderful taste of caramelised apple shone through. All in all, this is the kind of dish that bistros need to do well and Hotel Du Vin showed that it can pull off the classics exceptionally well.
The cost of Sunday brunch is a fairly good value £22.95. Drinks are slightly expensive here, so it makes sense to treat Hotel Du Vin as a place for a special occasion. It is also worth mentioning that while we left our little girl with her grandparents, you could take tiny babies here. It wouldn’t really be suitable to take a toddler though.
All in all, Hotel Du Vin in Harrogate, for me, actually surpasses the level set by the Leeds Malmaison. This is a perfect option for a big feed in a beautifully decorated bistro before a Sunday stroll in Harrogate.
Categories: Restaurant reviews