Review – Hotel du Vin / Happy birthday steak-frites

It’s my little sister’s birthday today – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIM! She lives in over in Vancouver, so sadly we won’t be sharing a birthday cake today, but I’m glad to hear that the cards arrived in time. Actually, the cards arrived in light-speed time. 50 hours door to door from Edinburgh to Vancouver with regular post service. £1.65 well spent; I’d say.
I know that she’s heading out to a rather amazing-sounding little French bistro demain soir to celebrate. It’s a little place called Les Faux Bourgeois. I’m very jealous! Vancouver is without doubt one of the world’s top culinary cities, and I’ve been lucky enough to have lived, visited and worked over there. My first tuna sashimi was enjoyed in Van, not to mention the pleasure of discovering outstanding British Columbia wines, which sadly are nigh-on impossible to find in the UK.
On the Bistro (actually, Bristo) front, I recently had a great dinner at Edinburgh’s Hotel du Vin, which turned up a few surprises. Firstly, the place was absolutely heaving on this particular Friday night. Now, I know that Fridays in restaurant-land do tend to be  busy, but techinically-speaking, this IS a hotel restaurant, and not exactly on the main path of the city’s dining establishmnents. The decor is French, in as much as the wall are covered with some nice vintage posters, and the candle light burns not too brightly. An other pleasant surprise was how good the basics of all their food were, and which gave justifiable room for some quirky touches.
Well, are wooden boards quirky? Most of the dishes we ordered were served on old-school wooden boards, which I have to say struck more memory chords for my table-mates (given they are just a tad older than me) but that even I remembered from ‘back in the day’.
I had the rabbit rillettes to start, which came with some lovely toast, and a cute little jar filled with a prune chutney. The slow-cooked meat was really tasty, and not super greasy or fatty which you’d more likely get with duck. The jam stuff was really nice, if perhaps a little overly spiced with cinammon type flavours. One of my table-mates had a beef and snail pie which was well rated, as were the oeufs en cocote which reeked of a really good blue cheese.
I couldn’t really see past the option of the 21-day aged Donald Russell rib-eye steak, with the hand cut frites. The meat was superbly cooked, really rare! The waiter and I had had a debate as to whether I should have gone for rare or medium-rare, but glad I opted for the former. The meat was so tender, fully-flavoured, and perfectly seasoned. I went ga-ga over the frites too, they had the skins on, but were still the skinny type, so all nice and crunchy, and served in a paper cone. This came with their house ‘broon sauce’ which was delish.
My only disappointment was the Irn-Bru flavoured home made Turkish Delight, which I’d read about. I don’t know if it was a bad batch, but I thought it was awful! There was no discernible, tanginess which is what you’d expect from the nation’s favourite neon orange coloured tooth-rotting juice. It was kind of milky tasting, and thick textured and kinda did nothing for me.
The sweets certainly didn’t spoil the overall impression of the place. It’s a lovely cosy room, and goes without say that they have an immense wine cellar, with a daily selection of wines by the glass. The team of staff looked after us well, and I’d say I’ll definitely be heading their way again in the New Year.
So whilst Mim and her friends enjoy their steak frites and moules marinières way out west tomorrow night, I can take some consolation in the fact that I’ve visited some great restaurants  right here in Edinburgh village  this year. Leil’Appetit has been a fun journey so far. Getting started back in June was one of those moments of impetus that compels you to ‘start with the scribblings already’. It’s also potentially helpful for the twilight years when my memory isn’t so sharp, and I’ll be able to read back and remember some great meals of days gone by.

Hotel Du Vin on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Leila. I am from the Donald Russell web team and couldn't help but notice you loved the steak you had in the HDV! Loved your review of your meal…Irn Bru Turkish Delight sounds interesting!? Have you seen our blog at all? Come visit us and have a look around at Look forward to following your blog in the future 🙂 Gary

  2. Hi Gary

    Many thanks for the message! I forget how these things are picked up in the wonderful world of web! Will have a peek at your blog – thanks for the link!

    Irn Bru Turkish delight – aw, shouldda been so good!


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