Hotel du Vin
Last week, we had the great pleasure of visiting one of the most beautiful buildings in town for a wonderful dinner sampling Hotel du Vin's new bistro menu, which is full of French classics, and their wine menu, which is full of wine from all around this mysterious and beautiful planet.
We'll each share a bit about our evening below, but before we begin, we just wanted to thank our wonderful hosts at Hotel du Vin, Victoria and Vicky, for inviting us along and not being too mad when they had to drag us out through the lobby dancing-and-singing at midnight. We'd also like to give a shoutout to our wonderful co-diners – as we're sure you know, an evening is only as good as the company you're with (or the food and wine you're consuming) and this group did not disappoint! These fabulous friends include Good Food TW (we took a blood oath to keep their identity secret, sorry!), the ever-lovely Pantiles Lady, and Clare of My Tunbridge Wells.
ANGELA: I think you can pretty much sum up a winning meal and company if you:
1. Lose count on how many glasses of Champagne you’ve consumed and
2. Completely forgo the obligatory food photos to just relax and enjoy.
That is how I can sum up my evening sampling the new menu for Hotel Du Vin Tunbridge Wells – a wonderful evening of new friends, new wines and delicious food. Although it was incredibly hard to choose something from the extensive menu, I eventually settled on the severn & wye smoked salmon classic to start, alongside a glass of Perrier-Jouët, Blason Rosé NV, followed by the Sole Meunière paired with a glass of Californian Cambria Tepusquet vineyard Viognier (always love a wine list with a Viognier, well done guys).
I sidestepped the dessert menu in favour of another glass of Champagne paired with RuPaul quotes. Both courses were wonderful and beautifully served, and I’m looking forward to my next visit because that cassoulet is definitely on my radar!
KATE: When I first moved to Tunbridge Wells six years ago, I spent many a night drinking perfect Manhattans in the Hotel du Vin bar and crying. Yep, crying. I found it really difficult to make friends in those early days, and found great solace in the best cocktail bar this side of London. Fast-forward six years, and I'm very happy to tell you that I now spend time at Hotel du Vin gabbing with my monthly book club, meeting clients on their beautiful terrace in the summer months, or getting up to tear-free trouble in the bar. That being said, it had been quite a while since I properly visited the Bistro, but after this last trip, I certainly won't be making that mistake again!
On this particular evening, I kept my order pretty neat and tidy: I asked for a never-ending top-up of Pinot Noir, the escargot, and the cassoulet. Every second that I didn't have something in my mouth, I'm pretty sure I was saying something with my mouth – usually something along the lines of, "Oh my god, you guys, eat this snail it's so good! Wait, ____*, you've never had a snail and you call yourself a food blogger? EAT THIS SNAIL RIGHT NOW. Good, right? So good! Oh my god have some of this cassoulet. It's great!"
I finished off my meal with a glass of Sazerac Rye on the rocks and loads of laughter. Overall, everything was wonderful and I had a bloody great time despite being told that I was not allowed to book the wine cellar for my next romantic staycation...
*This person's name has been redacted for their internet anonymity.
CARO: I need to start with an honest statement - Hotel du Vin had never really been on my Wine & Dine radar. That was until last week.
First, a quick glance at the wine menu I was presented with showed a wide choice of styles, countries and varietals that promised to suit any of my palate’s moods and whims. I was pleasantly surprised to find the same level of choice on the food menu, catering for a variety of budgets without compromising on taste or experience, with price points ranging from £8.50 for tasty salads to £68.00 for a decadent Chateaubriand (for two).
I opted for the French classic that is Steak Tartare for starter, and paired it with the Pinot Noir (thanks Angela!). I then picked a rare fillet steak with jus rôti for main, which was cooked to perfection and beautifully paired with a South African Syrah, before finishing with a refreshing glass of Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé champagne. Let’s just say that the mere memory of it all is totally making me drool right now.
Would I renew the experience? Absolutely. Is HdV now on my radar? You fucking bet it is. In fact, I went back for more HdV fun just 2 days later, when I decided to go spent the afternoon sipping Syrah and Champagne at their bar whilst getting shit done - a highly recommended treat on any stressful day.
Again, a major thank you to Hotel du Vin for being spectacular hosts. We can't wait to visit again and again and again!