A study in pink

poached_scottis_salmonDean Bailey enjoys dining al fresco at Newcastle’s Hotel Du Vin

We each have our areas of expertise here at appetite. Mine happens to be puddings. And biscuits. And scones and things of that ilk. Meanwhile, our lady editor is the queen of all things green and good for you.

So it came as quite as surprise when, on our way to the theatre having dined in the sunshine at Hotel Du Vin – a long-time ‘treat’ destination of team appetite – that she proclaimed, ‘that pudding was incredible, I could write a whole review on that!’


Anyone who has occupied the desk next to her for a day or two will know that our esteemed ed is generally the last person to indulge her sweet tooth. The paradigm-shifting dessert that brought about this euphoria was a rhubarb fool – a very generous helping of light pink in a sugar-rimmed glass bowl which I never imagined could bring about this kind of reaction from a lettuce lover. From the tiny spoonful I was able to nab while she wasn’t looking, I can agree it was, as she said, incredible – zesty, zingy, and madly moreish. A treat dessert, perfect for an evening when we’ve finished early and found ourselves in the sunshine with a drink and a three-course dinner. Life here at appetite can be tough, you know.

Continuing the pink theme, my poached Scottish salmon was a welcome respite from my current obsession with burgers, which seem to have become an unconscious go-to option whenever one appears on a menu, and one which took considerable willpower to avoid here. The fish was succulent, served with hot buttered heritage potatoes, including a purple one to continue the colourful trend, plus peppery watercress and a neat little pan of hollandaise.

This main course from the new-season al fresco menu tells you everything about summer here. Good, fresh produce, perfectly simple and uncluttered by culinary silliness, it makes your heart sing for the season.

Having planned her dessert choice before looking at the rest of the menu, the ed’s love of all things green and healthy took over. Her grilled globe artichoke with buffalo mozzarella and preserved lemons was very green, and very good – a generous bowl of fresh, seasonal ingredients, perfect for a sunny evening. It drew many oohs and aahs of appreciation from across the table, in particular for the preserved lemons and that creamy buffalo mozzarella.

This light, fresh menu is the perfect partner to an evening in the Hotel du Vin courtyard, sheltered from the outside world. Our starters, the ed’s summer squash salad with quinoa, pomegranate and barrel-aged feta, again compensating for the sugar intake of the pre-ordered dessert, and my perfectly pink starter of Bayonne ham with celeriac remoulade, were pretty and packed with flavour. The ham was strongly flavourful and stood up well to the remoulade, which was good enough to eat on its own (which the ed did – thief that she is), while the squash was delightfully pretty with its sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

With drinks – a G&T for Jane and a vodka and lemonade for me (what else on a Wednesday night in the sunshine?) plus a service charge – dinner for two came in at just under £70. We all need a treat now and again don’t we?

Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Allan House
City Road, Newcastle, NE1 2BE
tel 08447 364 259

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