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Oct 14

Bistro @ Hotel Du Vin, Edinburgh

Posted in Where to Eat & Drink Now

If you're looking for a spot of rustic-chic this Halloween then head to the candle-lit archways of the Bistro at Edinburgh's Hotel Du Vin for a fiendishly flavoursome feast.

Ivy clings to exposed brickwork, stained glass windows filter the rays of the moon that settle on the faces of diners, distorting them with alien hues. Converted from the old city lunatic asylum, the Bistro at the Hotel Du Vin certainly has the history to send a chill down our spine but thankfully it also has the food to keep us coming back for more; making a meal here addictively tasty. 

Above: A Restaurant's Atmosphere Is Often An Underrated Aspect Of A Meal. The Bistro @ Hotel Du Vin Has Bags Of The Stuff. 

To start my girlfriend chose the French onion soup (£4.50) while I decided to try the rather adventurous Isle of Mull soufflé (£5.50). Positioned beside a bay window lined with lead I watched the city bustle come and go. Assuming that these glass panels were relics of an era when lobotomy was deemed as an acceptable means to deal with difference I figured this place had seen a hell of a lot more than the pop of a cork from the neck of a £500 bottle of champagne. 

The sommelier spoke with a thick continental accent. Tidily groomed and cheerful it was obvious that if he ever cut himself he would probably bleed wine. He asked us our preferences.  
“We’d like a fruity but not dry white wine if possible please,” I asked. 
The sommelier cradled his wine list, flicked through a few pages and came to his conclusion. “We have over 700 different wines stored in our vaults. 40/45 of these are priced at £20-25. But we won’t use any old plonk for you,” he gesticulated with his the back of his hand as if swatting a fly.  “For you”, he continued, “I give the 2009 Torre del Falasco, Garganega. Think apple, pears and lemons.” I took his advice. I thought long and hard about apples, pears and lemons and was soon set on a bottle of this sweet and zingy offering from the grapevine. 
Above: If You Look Up At The Rafters In the Ceiling You Can Make Out The Wine Vaults That Overlook The Bistro. 
Our starters arrived and our collective breath grew baited. Served with thick chunks of onion and complimented by a yummy sauce my girlfriend’s French onion soup was a decent sized portion and smelt delicious but the star of the show was sitting in the space between my knife and fork. The soufflé stood erect and fluffy, sizzling on its grill pan. Accompanied by a jug of melted stilton (which I poured on the summit of mount soufflé) this is easily the most exciting starter I’m yet to devour and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who fancies a foodie-pick-me-up. 
The main menu sports an eclectic mix of modern European food. From the confit duck leg with frisee and lardon salad (£12.95) to the rack of the day with roast potatoes (£18.95), influences range far and wide and ensure that the menu is varied without perplexing diners in a blur of prose and prices. After a spot of deliberation, my girlfriend and I settled on the onglet (From the diaphragm of a cow) steak (£12.00) with pomme frites and garlic butter while I was seduced by the lobster thermidor (£35.00) from the specials menu. 
Above: The Chef's Table at the Bistro @ Hotel Du Vin, Edinburgh
Thoughtfully butterflied in two, smothered in garlic butter and served with chunky chips this dish was an apt sequel to the drama of my soufflé. The lobster was packed with piquancy and I used the chunky chips to mop the creamy sauce from the empty shell of the crustacean. Meanwhile, my girlfriend munched tenderly on the bloody onglet that graced her plate, our first meal in Edinburgh couldn’t have been any better. 
The dessert menu might have made me chuckle but it almost caused the sommelier to gouge his eyeballs out with a corkscrew in despair when we ordered the deep fried Mars bar (£2) between us. Our logic was a simple one, it was our first time in Scotland, and in hindsight perhaps I should’ve thought of the poor guy’s feelings before I decided to sacrifice our palates to the gods of batter and chocolate. But with a dessert menu that featured the likes of an Iron Bru Turkish delight (£2) and a deep fried Mars bar what did he expect?
Above: View Of The Bistro From The Upstairs Bar. 
“I can’t believe you,” he said in a thick continental accent as he passed our table. He looked as if he were about to burst into tears. I plopped a ball of fried Mars bar into my mouth and it was delish, granted our last glass of wine didn’t taste quite so appealing.
The Bistro at the Hotel Du Vin is a devilish offering to the figureheads of the culinary and is proof that fine dining can be fun. 
Please Note: The lobster therimdor is only available on Saturdays. 
Expect to pay around £30 per head for a three course meal (excluding drinks). 
Top Tip: If both yourself and your partner are fans of fish and don’t mind sharing then why not try the seafood platter? 
Written by Seb King
Seb King travelled from London to Edinburgh by rail with East Coast Trains: advance return fares, booked online, start from £24 Standard Class or £86 First Class: book via www.eastcoast.co.uk , call 08457 225225 or visit any staffed station. 
Hotel du Vin & Bistro,
11 Bristo Place,
Edinburgh, EH1 1EZ

Hotel Du Vin on Urbanspoon

Hotel Du Vin on Urbanspoon
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