SUMMERTIME is on the way and, just in time for the warmer and longer days, Hotel Du Vin in Henley is launching a new menu.
Al Fresco aims to offer the “best tastes of summer” so it was fitting that I visited on a Sunday evening during one of the hottest weekends of the year.
The menu features a selection of dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients which bring together lighter, flavourful interpretations of the New Street hotel bistro’s classics.
We settled at a table in the beautiful, newly-refurbished courtyard and a basket of warm bread and butter was brought to our table as we perused the starters.
I chose the oeuf en meurette — a poached egg salad with pancetta, button mushrooms and baby onions — and my dining partner ordered the watermelon, feta cheese and red onion salad which came with a mint dressing.
My salad was light and full of flavour — the egg had been poached in red wine which added a burst of colour to the plate and the combination of crispy pancetta, soft mushrooms and tasty baby onions on a bed of salad was delicious.
My partner’s choice certainly looked very impressive with bright red and white chunks of watermelon and feta arranged in a checker-board pattern and surrounded by a red onion salad. The sharp feta cheese contrasted well with the sweet watermelon and the mint dressing added yet more flavour to the dish.
For the mains, I opted for the corn-fed chicken breast, which came with a citrus and watercress salad. Again, the food was well-presented with slices of orange and white, pink and red grapefruit arranged on the plate.
The warm, chargrilled chicken was served on a bed of crisp, fresh lettuce and came with a light coating of tasty dressing.
My partner picked the steak frites, a char-grilled rump steak which came with a choice of peppercorn, bťarnaise or garlic butter sauces. The portion size was more than generous for the priciest main on the menu and included a large helping of fries and green salad.
The dessert menu featured a selection of popular seasonal puddings and I chose Scottish strawberries.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet strawberries made all the more delicious by the indulgent helping of creme chantilly.
My partner chose the chocolate brownie. This rich and sweet dessert was made with bananas and served warm with coconut ice cream for a wonderful, fruity twist.
As the name denotes, wine is at the heart of Hotel du Vin and Al Fresco includes a specially chosen summer selection of champagne, white wines from the Kentish hills to the vineyards of Spain and summery reds from France and the sunshine state, California.