We don’t normally like blowing our own trumpet (too much), but we felt we had to shout about our new food and beverage members club. Societe du Vin launched last month, with an incredible 50% off food throughout January. Now I don’t normally need an excuse to celebrate, but it’s even easier to make every day special with this fantastic club. Happy Wednesday! Happy 7th day in your new house! You got a new mug at work? Great! Happy new mug! In case you haven’t come across it yet, let me explain what all the fuss is about. Societe du Vin is a new members club from Hotel du Vin which entitles you to exclusive deals. Your preferences are recorded when you register so you receive weekly deals from only those hotels you’re interested in.
The menus contain the highest quality produce, locally sourced and expertly cooked. If you’re travelling to London or live thereabouts, our 2 stand alone Bistro du Vin’s have offers on too. From February the deals will be different for each hotel and I know that’s one email I will actually look forward to receiving.
The vouchers can be printed off from your email or if you’re savvy with a smartphone, downloaded and presented to your server when you dine. I’m personally looking forward to trying the Duck Rillettes Celeriac Remoulade, and I know the Sommelier will advise me of a suitable wine to pair with it. So thank you Societe du Vin.
In these cold winter months, when everyone seems to be a little more pre-disposed to gloomy moods and punishing themselves for having such an indulgent Christmas, this gives me all the reason I need to celebrate every day of the week, just because. Tomorrow I’m going to take my mother for dinner, to celebrate her new haircut. Then next week I’m going to take my partner for a meal to celebrate the weekend. The week after I think I’ll celebrate it being Tuesday with 3 courses. What will you be celebrating?
We recently ran a competition on our Facebook pages for one lucky person to win dinner for 2. All they had to do was send us a review from a recent experience dining on the Societe du Vin January offer. Competition was strong, but the winning entry made us feel that we were there in the restaurant, describing the food and the atmosphere perfectly. So congratulations to Clara Cort. Here is her review of Bistro du Vin Soho. Hope you enjoy.
‘Living in East Dorset, my Husband and I are regular visitors to Hotel Du Vin in Winchester so it was with great excitement that on a recent theatre visit to London we decided to try out their newest location – Bistro Du Vin in Dean Street, Soho. We weren’t disappointed!
On arrival you are struck by a freshly decorated large spacious restaurant area and pleasantly distanced tables with sufficient room for diners to stretch out and allow for a comfortable feeling once seated.
Trade mark (for regular Hotel Du Vin guests) large Bread Stick and French Butter with carving knife are promptly bought to the table by friendly staff – only too willing to advise on the menu.
The sommelier soon makes himself known, affording useful but not condescending advice on the extensive wine menu.
My husband had Foie Gras & Chicken Liver Parfait followed by a delicious Galloway Beef Fillet, whilst I tucked into a Salad Nicoise – kindly prepared by the chef on my request (with no fuss) and the fresh fish of the day – which I recall was Halibut. Sharing a superbly prepared side order of Glazed Carrots and Haricot Vert, we ate very well! Due to the impending night at the theatre, we both chose wine by the glass to accompany our meals. A delightful mini taster dish of various ice cream flavours and berries rounded off our superb meal nicely!
With all the best culinary expertise clearly passed down from the highly successful parent business - Bistro Du Vin is easy to recommend. What does stand out is not just the quality of the food, but also the professional friendly staff, who never seem to forget that diners have a choice as to where they spend their money! To sum up, if you want top quality food, friendly staff and good spacious surroundings in central London – Bistro Du Vin comes very highly recommended!’
You may not realise it, but St Andrews Golf Hotel in, you guessed it, St Andrews, Scotland, is part of the Hotel du Vin Group. The area is synonymous with golf, but there’s much more to it to entice you to visit.
I checked into the hotel on a dreary, windy autumn day. The warmth and friendliness I was greeted with immediately lifted my spirits, as did the fantastic sea views from my room.
Once settled, I decided to explore and the great thing about St Andrews, is that everything you need is nearby. A 5-10 min walk and you’re in the town centre, where a mix of high street favourites and independent boutiques await. It’s those precious one off shops that draw me in. The ones that that stock items you’re not likely to find elsewhere, like Bonkers on Market Street.
There are plenty of cafes and places to rest your feet as you explore. A visit to the place where Kate met Wills (for coffee) is a necessity if you’re a royal fan. If not, how about treating yourself to a haircut, complete with a free whisky?
Or for the ladies, a pot of tea, Scottish style.
St Andrews is steeped in history and nowhere is this more apparent than at the castle ruins, just a couple of minutes from the Golf Hotel. The stories connected with this place are violent and bloody, yet fascinating at the same time. This is where men fought the wars of independence, where the religious wars took place and where power was lost and won many times over. On this particular, windswept, cold and drizzly day, the power of the past was like a blanket that covered me from head to toe.
One battle from centuries ago included an attempt to attack the castle from underground through a tunnel. The defenders dug an opposing tunnel to cut them off. It worked, after several attempts, and the cramped, dark, claustrophobic mines still exist today. You can walk through them, which I tried to do. I failed miserably.
I was glad to get back to the cosy hotel, where I popped myself down in the front room with a pot of tea and took in the panoramic views of the beach in complete comfort.
The beach is stunning and the location from the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. Already I know your singing the tune. And yes, I did have a slo-mo run across the sands the next day.
That evening I sampled the Number 40 restaurant. I can recommend the mozzarella and tomato starter. The quality of the local produce used is a treat for the taste buds. A whisky in Ma Bells downstairs (where Kate and Wills were frequent guests) and I retreated to my huge bed, Egyptian cotton linen and LCD HD TV.
The next morning I had breakfast in the number 40 bar.
The view again was beautiful and I watched the early morning seagulls dancing for their breakfast.
St Andrews may be known for its golf and the meeting place of our future king and queen, but there is plenty more on offer. St Andrews Golf hotel is perfectly placed, with stunning views, beautiful architecture and comfortable, relaxed surroundings. I truly felt it was retreat and will definitely be back.
St Andrews are currently gearing up for Christmas. They are now on Facebook and twitter too, so be sure to follow them for special deals, offers and news.
Halloween often leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I’m never entirely sure what I should be doing. I’m a little mature for trick or treating, but I still like to take part in celebrations in some way. I like getting into the spooky “spirit” – no pun intended. So this year I have made a conscious effort to search out my perfect Halloween night.
Many of the cities around the country are holding ghost walks or tours, which delve into the murky past of some of Britain’s oldest and supposedly haunted areas. I love a good ghoulish story so I was heartened to find that so many events are happening. Here are some of my favourites.
The Trial of Dr. Knox (from the Burke and Hare story) at Hotel du Vin Edinburgh .
Malloween at the Liverpool Malmaison, complete with monstrous munchies and creepy cocktails.
The Clink Prison, London, is Britian’s oldest prison and was a place of torture and suffering. Tour it if you dare.
Witching hour at Oxford Castle, home to a 900 year old crypt and a curse.
And if you’re slightly more faint of heart or have children in tow, the Halloween Disco and Ghost Tour for kids in Edinburgh may be more your thing? And if you’re anywhere near Cambridge, pop into Hotel du Vin for some pumpkin cheesecake with cinnamon ice cream. The staff have a pumpkin carving contest between themselves and all the pumpkins will be displayed in the library and lit at night.
Perhaps you prefer to stay indoors and scare yourself with a movie.
Here are my top 5 films and top 5 dishes to get you into that Halloween state of mind.
- Halloween – setting the precedent for many horror films that followed. Still makes you shiver with the feeling that you’re being watched.
- Nightmare on Elm Street – Making the comfort of sleep horrifying
- The birds – maybe that’s where my fear of pigeons comes from!
- Final Destination series – turning every day happenings into terrifying events.
- Stephen King’s IT – Clowns. Need I say more?
- Pumpkin soup. After spending hours carving out a pumpkin, the least you can do with it is make a superb soup for those chilly nights.
- Spicy batwings. Chicken wings with a twist.
- Apple pie. All those bobbed apples have to go somewhere, right?
- Spaghetti. A worm inspired pasta main – not for the faint hearted.
- Risotto. A maggot like dish can easily be created here.
Do you agree? What’s your favourite scary movie and what will you be eating while watching it?
Whatever you choose to do, whether it’s dressing up as a pumpkin and dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, or hiding in darkened room with a scary film, be sure to have a stupendously spooky time.
Celebrations are in order. We’ve been given another chance to appreciate the sunshine and relax a little with the arrival of this beautiful Indian summer. So don’t shelve the barely worn shorts and sandals just yet, there’s still plenty of alfresco dining, Champagne afternoon teas on the terrace and maybe the odd barbecue still to be had.
If you were a little disappointed with the summer and missed out on that holiday feeling, think of this as a stroke of good fortune. Steal a moment at lunch to sit in the warm air. Take the opportunity after work to dine alfresco with friends over a bottle of chilled sparkling wine recommended by the sommelier. Set your alarm clock a little earlier to catch the most stunning sunrise to inspire you for the day ahead and grab a coffee and some you-time before nine.
It’s not often we get a second chance, so let’s grab this one with both hands and have a most wonderful Indian summer. After all, autumn is just around the corner.
I was asked if I could choose my perfect bottle of wine and name any three people from history that I would like to share it with. Now, I’m not going to pretend my knowledge of wine is expansive, so the basis for my bottle of choice has been influenced mainly by my impending holiday to New Zealand. This is the ‘Roaring Meg’ Pinot Noir from Mount Difficulty, Central Otago. In the time I’ve been with Hotel du Vin I’ve been introduced to quite a lot of wines but this is one of the ones that has stood out. Now if I had more knowledge of wines I’d tell you how its varying levels of depth and flavours made me like it however the reality is altogether less exciting. I just find it really tasty, easy to drink, the bottle doesn’t cost the earth and most importantly I’m visiting the vineyard on my holidays.
PS. Did I mention I was going to New Zealand?
Ross Bootland. Head Chef at Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle
Ross trained at the prestigious Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh for 2 years, winning Scottish Junior Seafood Chef of the Year, before moving down to London to add to his experience at the Manderin Oriental for a year. It was after this that he joined the Malmaison group in 1997 for 5 years – beginning in Edinburgh opening Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds and returning to Edinburgh.
He has also previously held position of Head Chef for Dakota Hotels in Glasgow and then for Forth Bridge Edinburgh achieving several awards in a short space of time including:
Hotel Restaurant of the Year 2008
Restaurant of the Year Scotland 2008
Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2008
and nominated as one of the top ten in Scotland.
Ross has been inspired over the years in particular by Keith Shearer, Executive Head Chef of Hotel du Vin and Malmaison and by award winning Roy Brett, Head Chef of Ondine Restaurant.
Ross is now Head Chef at Hotel du Vin Newcastle. Take a look at his favourite dishes and take part in the Northern Face-off on Facebook Hotel du Vin Newcastle.
It is fair to say that the British climate is sporadic at best. A patch of warm weather brings a flurry of wardrobe rearrangements to find the summer dresses and bare leg exposing shorts. But it also gives the ideal temperature to sit outdoors, take in some fresh air and dabble in a little after work tipple or have a nibble on something straight off the barbecue. We are great fans of all things alfresco – Veuve Clicquot in the Courtyard Champagne Bar at Hotel du Vin Edinburgh, the garden at Tunbridge Wells or sitting under the sails at Poole with an ice-cold beer. There is something that makes you feel relaxed and free when you’re able to wine and dine outdoors, as if on holiday. We say bring on the Indian summer and plenty more balmy nights. Of course, if the sky looks temperamental we’d just head to Hotel du Vin York who are prepared for every eventuality to prevent dampened spirits with the brilliant installation of a retractable roof. Indoors outdoors or outdoors indoors, you choose. Just one question to ask – who’s up for a spot of alfresco?