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A la Colthard: Hotel du Vin Brighton

Popularity is in my opinion a good measure of anything so the first thing to report on the restaurant at the Hotel Du Vin Brighton was that every table was taken and I can see why.

On Sundays they offer a 4 course brunch for £24. It’s not really a brunch in the American sense of dishes midway between breakfast and lunch, e.g. eggs benedict and a Bloody Mary, it’s a full blown meal. You start with a tomato soup, thick and hearty but a little too filling before another 3 courses. For the second course they lay out a buffet of seafood and charcuterie which is a meal in itself. This comprised prawns, smoked salmon, trout , cold cured meats to which you help yourself. For mains I went for the Sunday roast. This was served with a sizeable Yorkshire pud in a red wine sauce. I have never worked out why Yorkshire puds are never hot enough. Perhaps they cool quickly. The beef was slightly too tough but rich in flavour and the vegetabies were copious. They was just enough room in the Daffers tummy for a tarte tatin.

I wanted to see a room to complete my review as I heard these were as elegant and comfortable as anything in Brighton. The hotel was launched by Richard Huston who, after he sold up, built up the Pig restaurants. His operations manager Ed Newman now deals efficiently with day to day demands of the texture group which comprises another restaurant I like and use a lot, 28-50 in Marylebone Lane. The standards of service that he bequeathed were still high: the service was friendly, prompt and efficient. One of my bugbears is if you order wine by the glass it can take too long to reach the table and the dish to accompany. Here the wine arrived arrived within 2 minutes of ordering.

I managed to solve the room visits by hearsay evidence. One of us girls admitted over her third glass of Malbec that she had an affaire which meant she had to meet her lover, a property man, in Brighton and he liked the Hotel du Vin. On the first occasion when she was requested not to announce herself to the staff, she slipped into the bedroom corridor via a door on the first floor. The rooms are identifiable not by number but by a wine and for the life of her she could not remember if it was a Beaujolais or Bordeaux. This led to much alcohol infused banter like:
“Did he use a screw pull opener?”
“Did you have a tasting first?”
” Did you charge corkage?”
” I suppose you can only comment on the bedroom ceiling “
Our friend rather regretted admitting her indiscretion but did say the bathrooms were lovely and this affaire made her something of an expert on Brighton hotel bedrooms. The bedroom on the sixth floor of the Grand was the best and the Ship could be rather cold in winter though I am sure, knowing her, she found ways of warming up!!!
But back to the Hotel du Vin. The restaurant was full of all sorts including a charming old buffer with his posh wife who seemd to be enjoying themselves and several large parties making much noise. We all went Dutch and my bill initially came to £41. I pointed out to the grateful waiter that this could not possibly be right as I had two cocktails and 3 glasses of wine. They left out the meal charge of £24 which still makes it incredible value. Ordering wine by the glasses which we all did as we wanted different wines in colour and nature and some cocktails is rather an expensive way of doing it. If you choose just one bottle you will be under £50’per head. Its excellent value. I really could not fault it nor judging by the buzzy full room were anyone else.

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About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts