Hotel du Vin has launched a new lunch menu featuring a one, two or three course offer priced at £9.95, £12.95 and £14.95 respectively (not too bad!) along with a selection of salads, sandwiches and tartines. They’ve also given their à la carte menu a revision. Thankfully, the à la carte menu continues to retain its selection of grills of dry aged steaks matured at least 28 days, but the revamp sees a return to classic French bistro dining with dishes like French onion soup, chicken liver parfait for starters and mains along the lines of moules frites and lemon sole meunière.
As anyone familiar with the Hotel du Vin group would expect, the menus are bolstered by the du Vin focus on quality quaffs and spirits. On the back of every printed à la carte menu, there’s a selection of 80 wines “for all palates and purses” chosen by Wine and Spirit Director, Ronah Sayburn, which enables diners to make a speedy and well informed wine pick. Still, for those wishing to delve a little (or a lot) deeper, the full HdV wine list of 500 vintages is available to peruse. Suggested wine or digestif pairings are presented for desserts as well.
I’m a du Vin fan and didn’t realize their menus needed an upgrading. But I can’t complain about the tweaks. Invited along to the Tunbridge Wells HdV to sample the lunch and have a snoop around the hotel, I’m left with two simple thoughts: yum and ooh.
Lunch service was impeccable. A daily seasonal special (another perk to lunch at one of the hotel group’s 14 current properties) of asparagus with Parma ham, poached egg and hollandaise sauce performed slightly better than I’d anticipated and a 225g rib eye cooked rare (with awesome frites!) was definitely nom worthy. Sides of honey roasted carrots and haricots verts pleased with a bit of surprise as well. Filled as I was to the brim, I somehow found the room for a bowl of ice cream for a perfectly adequate ending. A bottle of Chateau Bauduc 2008 Clos des Quinze made a rocking red accompaniment throughout my feast.
As for the actual hotel, it’s lovely. A grade II-listed sandstone mansion with lush gardens and its own small vineyard, it and the small city of Tunbridge Wells provides a smart and comfy base for exploring the countryside around Kent and Sussex. With plenty of function rooms of various sizes, the hotel is apparently oft used as a venue for weddings, birthdays and other special events.. With a great club-like bar, an impressive humidor (with a cosy, covered and heated outdoor cigar “shack”) and luxuriant rooms all with mega beds, drench showers, lofty views over the town and more, the Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells is quite simply a really nice place to stay … and an especially easy to reach (under an hour from Charing Cross) London getaway.