Hotel du Vin Edinburgh is, as we say in our hotel review of it, a superb city centre hotel. A significant part of its attraction is the food on offer at Bistro du Vin which is prepared with a flair and an attention to detail that has seen the hotel gain an AA Rosette for its food. Combine excellent food and wine with outstanding service in one of the most slickly operating dining rooms we have seen, and the result is a winner: and somewhere you will want to eat again.
Bistro du Vin occupies a large part of the ground floor of Hotel du Vin. It has two distinct areas. The main bistro occupies the hotel's frontage at street level, with windows looking out onto Bristo Place, and to the side. Set behind it and a few steps higher is a second distinct area. Off to one side of the main bistro is a private room that is home to the chef's table, where up to 8 guests can enjoy their meal while also watching it being prepared. In summer the hotel's main courtyard is used for al fresco dining, allowing a further option. Hotel guests can also order from the room service menu: and two private dining rooms seating up to 26 are available.
The bistro menu is available at lunch and dinner and sets out to strip away the pretensions which so often surround menus. You are given an A3 size piece of stiff paper, on one side of which is set out the dishes on offer. First, however, the reverse of the menu is well worth a look. It is increasingly common (and very welcome) to find information about a restaurant's suppliers on its menu. But we don't think that anywhere else have we seen nearly as much space given over to the suppliers as to the food. A large part of the rear of the menu is occupied by paragraphs on each of the bistro's main suppliers: which in some cases also cover the supplier's sourcing, back to the farm on which animals were reared.
In some ways the low key presentation of the menu does less than full justice to the food. This is simply excellent, and when two diners each have a three course dinner in which every element is perfect, you know that it is also consistently good. A sense of the style of the food and the individuality of the chef's approach can best be conveyed by talking about two of the bistro's signature dishes. The list of starters begins with "Isle of Mull soufflé", with the warning that this will take 15 minutes to prepare. It is certainly worth the wait, and there is a real "wow" when the waiter approaches with what appears to be a large round topped cone. Plus instructions on how best to eat it: by cutting off the top and pouring in the cheese sauce. Absolutely delicious. Meanwhile the main course option of "steak and snail pie" may be the only dish we've seen apparently designed around a pun: but it is also beautifully crafted, extremely tasty and, of course, distinctly different.
Breakfast is also served in the bistro. A beautifully presented starter course of all the usual continental options is available from the buffet on the chef's table, complete with a superb selection of fresh fruit and freshly squeezed fruit juices and substantial glasses to serve them in. Main course options include kippers or smoked salmon: and we can heartily recommend the excellent "freshly baked waffles" with whipped pecan butter and maple syrup. Meanwhile the fried breakfast is magnificent: with freshly cooked ingredients prepared exactly as ordered. And the breakfast portions mean that this is a meal that will keep you going through the day. You can read our hotel review for Hotel du Vin here.