Hotel Du Vin: Here comes the sun


Rosie McGlade heads to Hotel du Vin and Bistro in Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley for an al fresco lunch in the courtyard. At least, that’s the plan…

It was a fabulous sunny day in late spring, the rays pouring into the suntrap of Hotel du Vin’s courtyard.

Only that was yesterday.

Today, it’s teeming down so we seek cover in the bistro, where the staff are all talking about yesterday and how packed the courtyard was.

I believe them. Every time I get in a taxi these days the driver’s full of talk about great restaurants, and if the upturn hasn’t come to the North East yet then there seem to be a lot of people in Newcastle in denial because it feels like boom time. It’s summer, after all – even when it’s raining.

Favourite places to enjoy the outdoors in the city? The Freetrade in Ouseburn for one, with its garden tables taking in lovely views over the Tyne complete with all the bridges. The Cumberland has quite a vista. The Tyne’s right by the river (funny that) and bands play to great acoustics under the bridge in its beer garden. They’re all a hop and a skip from Hotel du Vin.

DuVin2Conversation expands into the perfect summer weekend day out in this part of town. Simples, we agree. A couple of pints in the above and then lunch here at Hotel du Vin where the £22.95 Sunday brunch menu includes soup, a buffet starter of cured meats and seafood, followed by roast dinner and dessert.

Today, though, we’re here to enjoy the new al fresco menu, which is optimistically subtitled Taking Dining Outdoors and is loosely based on the bistro’s a la carte with sunnier twists and available throughout the afternoon and evening. There’s a pint of prawns (£9.50), crab gazpacho (£5.50), watermelon, feta and red onion salad (£7) and many more sunny dishes. We have the first two plus a caprese salad with red, orange and green tomato among the buffalo mozzarella and baby basil leaves. The prawns are huge, as is the gazpacho, with its pile of crabmeat in the middle.

In summer sunshine the hotel courtyard is the perfect home for pitchers of cocktails, bowls of olives, and fab Mediterranean food like this. In the rain, we view it through the picture windows and enjoy the menu all the same. The steak and chips (£20.95) is a truly tasty treat. The burger (£14.50) comes with a mountain of home-made chips in a brioche bun and is high, high quality, and the poached Scottish salmon (£14.95) is elegantly partnered by fancy spuds, watercress and an excellent hollandaise sauce in a little copper pan.

The cheese board (£8.50) arrives on a proper trolley with vintage cheddar, a selection of blues and French smelly numbers. We argue about which five we want so we’re given a slightly smaller sample of each: happy days. The baked vanilla cheesecake with blueberry compote is firm and delicious, so full marks there too.

Total price, including two small carafes of house Merlot, is about £110 for three. The staff are excellent, and we’ve had a very nice Saturday afternoon out. Just imagine it on a nice day.

Hotel Du Vin, Allan House, City Road, Newcastle, NE1 2BE, tel 0844 736 4259,

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