To Dean Street in Soho last Wednesday for the opening of the latest outpost of the Bistro du Vin and Bar. This is a simple but ingenious concept which is basically the same well-tested offering as the Hotel du Vin but without the bedrooms. The emphasis is on simple menus using great quality ingredients coupled with a well-chosen wine list with plenty of interesting selections by the glass. So far the site locations have been spot on – the first Bistro opened on St John’s Street in Clerkenwell in March and its Soho sibling is in an equally buzzing locale. There are plans to open several more in the near future so do keep an eye on the HdV website to check on developments: www.hotelduvin.com
I thought I would arrive early at around 7pm, to avoid the crowds, but was misguided on the front as by the time I tipped up the place was packed. Strangely there were a handful of male models clad only in boxer shorts (at least I assume they were models and not just daringly casual dressers) and at least a brace of, fully-clothed, cricketing heroes in attendance – I spotted Ian Botham and Freddie Flintoff but there might well have been others. I also managed to track down head sommelier Romain Auderie and my old friend Ronan Sayburn, the group Director of Wine and Spirits. They generously allowed me to put their pristine new By the Glass dispensing machine through its paces and it is a thing of beauty. I can’t think of anywhere else where you could sample a glass of Dageneau Pouilly Fumé, white Château Rayas, Leflaive Bâtard Montrachet or Jasmin’s Côte Rôtie (in which I must declare an interest) in the knowledge that they would be in perfect condition.
There was, of course, some terrific-looking food being handed out but the room was too busy to be easily navigated so I didn’t really do the victuals justice. Having previously dined in the Clerkenwell Bistro I can testify that the grills are excellent and the service is both efficient and friendly. I’ll definitely be back to visit under my own steam and although the HdV is a heavily-branded chain it does have heart and soul and the souring of local ingredients and interesting wines is a winning combination.