The nostalgic tradition of Sunday lunch shows no sign of abating.
If anything it’s getting stronger in these austere times – we’ve just become more savvy with the leftovers. Last year’s compost is this year’s Monday night supper. Going out for Sunday lunch, however, is a bit more of a rarity in our house, so we’re quite picky about where we go. While the bistro at Hotel du Vin has always impressed for dinner, how would it fair in the almighty Sunday lunch spot? The first thing to say is if you’re planning a trip it’s probably best to set aside the whole afternoon, grab a gaggle of friends and prepare for a long leisurely lunch in true French style. The four-course menu, lively atmosphere and extensive wine list set the tone – the house chardonnay was superb.
The four-course affair included soup (in our case a delicious, seasonal butternut squash) followed by a trip to the market table before the main event and a totally unnecessary, but lip-smackingly lovely dessert. The market table was loaded with top-notch charcuterie, pate, smoked salmon, roasted vegetables and many other tasty bits to nibble on. The mushroom pate was a huge hit even with my champignon-hating husband. The trick, if possible is not to get carried away. Predictably, most of our group ordered roast beef with all the trimmings which arrived perfectly pink accompanied by a show-stopping Yorkshire pudding and a slug of tasty gravy. I’d opted for the less meaty smoked haddock and poached egg served on a potato rosti. Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely, but I secretly wished I’d ordered the beef. After a round of moreish sweets, it was time to head off into the early evening. The vibe at Hotel du Vin managed to be classic but also pretty relaxed, hence our long stay. We didn’t feel rushed at all. The bistro was buzzing with families, friends and couples tucking into the best meal of the week together.