I have been rather busy of late and neglecting to eat a full meal some evenings when I'm racing between meetings, etc, so I gladly accepted an invitation from a friend to join her for dinner in town on a very chilly and wet November evening.
We met at the fabulous Hotel Du Vin on Trumpington Street and it was a refreshing change to be able to sit and enjoy being pampered solely for my pleasure and relaxation and not worry about my fellow guests at an event and if they were enjoying themselves (although, of course they always do hehe)
The Hotel Du Vin in Cambridge, as most of you will know by now is one of my fave venues in town for Afternoon Tea, as well as being the host to my first Afternoon Tea Etiquette Workshop with the delightful William Hanson a month or so ago. I love them and wanted to try the proper menu for a change.
We were greeted with such a warm welcome, as always, a choice of seating which is welcome for the picky restaurant goer that I can be. We chose to slink into the darkness of a beautifully romantic candlelit corner and enjoy the peace and quiet that the table offered. You aren't sat on top of each other here, so private conversation and gossip can be perfected ; )
We were given a wine menu and some freshly baked bread and butter to nibble on whilst we decided what to drink. Well, it would have been rude not to, it was warm and smelt irresistible. Bread and butter is my weakness, this truly doesn't disappoint. And this was just the entree.
The menu is affordable, which we were both surprised at. It's not a pretentious venue, in fact I've been to some sniffy places in Cambridge that are way beneath what they were actually offering, but Hotel Du Vin offers much more, in manners, decor and in quality of their food, but not with as hefty price tag of some of these others. I was more than pleasantly surprised that I could in fact afford a starter, main and a dessert, a huge bonus for such a stressful day which was just asking for some comfort food! Starters are between £6 and £9 depending on what you go for, mains between £14 and £30 if you go for some of their delicious sounding steaks and around £6 for a dessert or warm winters pudding.
You can also choose from a "Prix Fixe" menu which changes seasonally as well as on a daily basis, allowing you to order 2 courses for £15.50 or 3 courses for just £19.50, which is actually, I believe, across ALL Hotel Du Vin Bistros. And it truly doesn't feel like you ordering from a terrible set menu that you get in some restaurants, it's very good value for money and cooked in front of you in their open fronted kitchen.
The staff give you plenty of time to choose and were knowledgeable on everything I asked of them. There is never a choice of 3 or 4 dishes for the fussy eater in me, but I was genuinely torn on what to go for this time. So the grilling I gave our waiter was needed and he helped me to decide on a Rabbit Terrine with Melba Toast and a selection of Pickles to start. It was gorgeous, but very rich, you certainly didn't need much of this, even if you like your food as much as I do.
For our mains, we both went for the Monkfish Grand Mere, which was a melt in the mouth piece of fish, served on a large potato rosti and garnished with pearl onions, pancetta and wild mushrooms. It was the best fish I think I've ever eaten, I could eat this again and I'm dribbling ever so slightly just writing about it haha. I chose a side of green beans to go with this and the crisp to these was just as I like my vegetables.
Dessert, as naturally, there was room for dessert, was a difficult choice to make as there was a large selection to decide from. I had been fancying the Bread & Butter Pudding with Sauce Anglaise and it didn’t let me down, it was filling, so I annoyingly didn’t eat it all as was too filling even for me, but it was very nice indeed. My food loving accomplice ordered the Strawberry and Cream Parfait, which wasn’t how I imagined it being, she let me taste a slither and it was like eating that American marshmallow Fluff, but ten times tastier. It was light, fluffy and served with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of White Chocolate to top it off, it was literally the most gorgeous sweet I’ve ever tasted and I am one fussy beggar!
As we were both driving, we asked to look at their non-alcoholic cocktail menu, but the drinks waiter actually asked us what our preferred flavours were and we both agreed that we fancied something with an apple base. He went away and came back with two very different "mocktails". My friend had a a strawberry and apple drink with a papaya flavour running through, it was gorgeous. I had an apple and kiwi drink which hit my sweet tooth perfectly.
The water flowed naturally too, as we were gabbing so much, we kept running out without noticing. Luckily, our attentive, but non intrusive waiter kept swapping our bottles over without me even really noticing. I'm just thinking back now and he did this without us having to really ask, I'm impressed!
For the money, we got a lot for it and I felt as though I had been spoilt rotten, I will be expecting a romantic meal there next time, a girl can at least hope somebody might offer her that ; )
Miss Sue Flay
Please Note - I'm not paid or bribed to say these things, I visit of my own accord, because I'm simply THAT geeky about tea and cake and all things in between. I pay for my own food and drink, I don't tell the establishment what I'm doing, unless I enjoy it so much that I want to blog about it. I then simply ask their permission to do so and I chat to them about my experience to make them aware that I (and others) have enjoyed it : )
If you would like an independent review or blog write up on any fitting subject or service from Miss Sue Flay, please do email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.