Hotel Du Vin, Church Street

Mother Nature’s trickery fooled us into flip flops prematurely back in April only to have us rummaging around in the loft for a coat in May.

Willing some warmth to come our way we wrapped up and set off to sample Hotel du Vin’s Al Fresco menu hoping it didn’t actually have to be consumed outdoors. Thankfully not, so we plonked ourselves in the cosy bistro. The menu was packed with the punchy summer flavours that we craved. The soup au pistou was a bit of a surprise. A light clear broth with seasonal vegetables and a garnish of pistou (a provencal type of pesto) was delicate, but really flavoursome. We enjoyed it with a glass of the quaffable Turckheim Mayerling Crémant d’Alsace. Part of HdV’s Summer of Pinot that features wines from the pinot grape or mutations of, the Cremant is worth a look.

SALAD STARS

The star of the show was a punchy squash salad with quinoa, feta and pomegranate. All zingy and fresh it was just gorgeous and we’d happily come back just for this. A man-size chicken cob salad had great hunks of roasted chicken, pancetta, brioche croutons and Roquefort. It’s not for the faint hearted – our small version was pretty substantial, but it tasted damn fine. We switched back to the a la carte for veal chop with sour plums, a tasty jus and heritage carrots which was really good. I’m not sure heritage vegetables taste superior to non-heritage versions, but they look good nonetheless. Back to the al fresco menu for pud in the form of a refreshing rhubarb fool with ginger biscuits and a tropical fruit pavlova. Chewy meringue, sweetened cream and tropical fruit – what’s not to love? The menu’s a winner and on a warmer day that doesn’t require a scarf it will make even more sense. We may even make this our summer of pinot too and steadily work our way through the 35 wines on the list.

HOTEL DU VIN Church St, Birmingham B3 2NR, tel: 0845 736 4250