Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Hotel Du Vin, Harrogate

Guests enjoy a soupcon of French bistro style at the heart of Harrogate. Jo Haywood joins them Photographs: Elizabeth Savage


Tuna carpaccio, anchovy butter and a soft boiled egg

Lamb rump with saut� potatoes and puy lentil jus

Tart au citron

The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life 

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Biography of a bistro

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There has been a hotel on the Hotel du Vin site in Harrogate since eight Georgian houses were converted in the 1930s.

The current 48-bedroom hotel overlooks the town’s magnificent 200-acre common, Stray, and offers a billiards room, cellar snug, a health spa, four stunning loft suites, a humidor offering a diverse selection of rare cigars and a wine bar with a Cruvinet machine – the largest in the UK – dispensing a range of fine whites and reds.

Bistro du Vin, under the tutelage of head chef Kevin Whiteford, is the heart of the whole operation, offering French-styled, elegant yet informal dining for lunch, dinner, meetings and celebrations.

The bistro specialises in fine Yorkshire produce provided by well-known county suppliers like Ramus Seafood, Bleiker’s Smokehouse and R&J Butchers.

Wine is just as important as food – without it there wouldn’t be a ‘du Vin’ at all – and customers are guided in their choices by sommelier Mark Perlaki and his team, who cut through the jargon and go straight for the taste.

Most restaurants can rustle up a plate of good food and a bottle or three of decent wine, but few can deliver a warm, balmy day on which to enjoy them. Especially in the latter days of autumn in a county not renowned for its tropical climes.

But that is precisely what the Hotel du Vin & Bistro did, conjuring an afternoon of undiluted sunshine to welcome guests gathered for canap�s and bubbly on the pretty rear terrace of this stylish Harrogate eaterie.

‘This fabulous venue really has thought of everything today,’ said our food and drink consultant Annie Stirk. ‘They’ve even provided us with fantastic weather. When you combine that with terrific food and wonderful wine matching, you’ve pretty much got a perfect day.’

But none of this happens by chance. Okay, maybe they can’t take credit for the unseasonably good weather, but everything else at the Hotel du Vin is down to sheer hard work.

‘We are all about developing service through training,’ explained Grant Lowe, general manager at the Prospect Place landmark. ‘All our staff take part in food and wine tastings so they can get to know the menu inside-out and appreciate every aspect of what we have to offer.

‘We want them to be better informed than our customers – which is quite a feat – so they can help them with their choices and ensure everything works on the plate and in the glass.’

Our first plate at lunch carried a soft sliver of tuna spiked with black pepper and complimented creamily by a buttery boiled egg.

Next came a generous plateful of lamb rump – described by Annie as ‘a real Yorkshireman’s portion’ – on an earthy lentil jus that had an almost fathomlessly deep level of flavour.

And our final plate was not a plate at all, but a slate transporting a softly caramelised lemon tart with an artful balance of sharpness and creaminess set off beautifully by a sprinkling of crushed meringue and a luscious pile of berries.

It was a triumphant meal, with only one tiny quibble from guests – and it was really more of a quib, so small were its proportions. The fruit in some people’s pud made a bid for freedom over the lipless rim of the slates, jewelling the tablecloths (and one or two unfortunate laps) with their ruby drips.

But this is not something that will unduly worry the Hotel du Vin as it is an establishment that prides itself on listening to its customers and learning from its mistakes.


Tuna carpaccio, anchovy butter and a soft boiled egg

Lamb rump with saut� potatoes and puy lentil jus

Tart au citron