“My favourite type of diet is seafood, I see food and I eat it!” It’s a proper dad joke but it’s also pretty true – I do love seafood and there’s nothing in life I like more than a good buffet. Forget fine dining, if I ever get married there’s going to be a buffet of dreams at the reception. In fact, forget the wedding – let’s just have a buffet.
I was recently invited to try out the Brunch menu at the Hotel du Vin on Newcastle’s Quayside. I’m quite a fan of brunch and I’m glad it seems to becoming a more established meal time on these shores – as far as I’m concerned it’s express permission to have your breakfast really late and eat more to make up for it. When I found out one of the four courses of the £19.95 Hotel di Vin Sunday Brunch was a seafood buffet course I said I would be there with bells on – though what actually happened was I got lost en route and turned up so late I missed drinks in the beautiful bar and the soup course.
I was offered belated soup (vegetable) but decided to save space for the other three courses. My meat-free month lingers on in my memory and the opportunity to graze on plentiful seafood and meats from the French-inspired market table made me apply common sense and sidestep the liquid course. I also opted for wine instead of a cocktail, though I did steal some very pleasing sips of my dining partner’s Kir Royale – It was good.
I paid two gluttony-fuelled visits (one meat, one seafood) to the market table and spoke with the very knowledgeable chef about the impressive spread.
The sheer volume of quality meat, fish, prawns, mussels and oysters on offer would easily be worththe £19.95 fee alone and this was without the breads, pastries and condiments to accompany them.
On hand during the meal was Hotel du Vin’s sommelier in residence who recommended the perfect fresh, crisp, white for me to wash my salmon down with before embarking on my main course. I’m happy to admit that I’m just as likely to visit a cafe with a BYO policy as a bistro with a sommelier, but on this and during previous visits to Hotel du Vin bistros the sommelier has always been approachable, helpful and never hit a bum grape note. I was so impressed on this occasion that I asked if the hotel ran any wine-focused events (they do, see their site).
Unlike the majority of my fellow diners I decided to plump for a juicy burger rather than a roast for main course. This was in part because Ma Berg has been generously feeding me a roast every single week since my repatriation (I’m getting roast-tund). The roasts looked great, but when my burger arrived complete with a pot of very French Fries any Yorkshire pud envy I may have had disappeared. The burger was nicely pink in the middle and came oozing with gruyere and topped with crispy bacon.
After failing to finish my fries I was a little edgy about making room for dessert but it turns out there’s always room for ice cream, and profiteroles. I always tend to order starter instead of desserts in restaurants, which is a habit I formed after being fed too many pre-packaged, sub-par desserts. However, the profiteroles at Hotel Du Vin were freshly made and came filled with not-too-sweet and creamy vanilla ice cream, along with a good ladleful of milk chocolate sauce.
I’m always very particular about giving a fair representation of all the places I review – whether I’ve paid for my feed or not and on this occasion I’m happy to give Hotel Du Vin and their brunch a bloated thumbs up. At £19.95 this four course brunch really is a bonanza and a great choice for a special family gathering or catch up with friends and I’ve already recommended it to several people looking for somewhere to eat over the weekend.
Of course, Hotel Du Vin are not the only ones pushing brunch at the moment and having happily adopted this extra meal of the day into my eating routine I’ve been trying out brunches far and wide since dining there to see how they compare. My efforts have been concentrated out of town so far but I’m hoping to try out the American-inspired fare at the nearby Mal shortly, which is also offering a £19.95 Sunday Brunch Menu. All other brunch venue recommendations are gratefully received (and brunch buddies)!