We have a NYE tradition to meet up with friends for lunch and this year chose Hotel Du Vin Bistro as we expected a certain standard and quality.
I booked the table in August. I received a phone call on December 21st to confirm the booking and was told that only the celebration menu would be available and were there any allergies in the party. I confirmed that we would be there, the celebration menu would be fine and that there are no allergies.
We met our friends in the bar at 1pm on NYE for a drink before lunch. Our booking was for 1.30. We went through to the restaurant at 1.30. There was no one to greet us. When the waiter did finally acknowledge us he checked the booking and asked us to wait while he un laid a table and re laid another one for us, despite there being half a dozen empty but laid up tables available. When I queried this I was told they were for pre booked afternoon tea. I did not question further, but why tables would be laid for pre booked tea but not for pre booked lunch is beyond me.
The waiter showed us to our table then wondered off, I had to call him back to take our coats. Once we were seated he gave us our menus and 1 specials menu telling us that only three items were still available as it was the end of the specials season and they were changing tomorrow.
I told him about the phone call I had received telling me that only the celebration menu was available, he said that the celebration menu finished on Boxing Day, and would go and “talk to someone”, he then did not come any where near our table again and we were served by a very nice waitress. It then transpired he had given us 3 regular menus and 1 specials menu, so one of our party did not realise there were other options apart from the reduced specials menu until she made a comment about it. We ordered wine and food. The service was good, and the waitress was very attentive. The food was less pleasing.
My husband had the parfait to start, which was straight from the fridge, so tasteless as was my ham hock terrine. The other two members of our party enjoyed theirs and said it was fine.
The main courses arrived, the pumpkin gnocchi portion was tiny and we think shop bought not home made. The vegetarian cassoulet was very watery, if that is how it was meant to be, it should be served with a spoon as well. My cassoulet was tasty, but the duck and the pork were overcooked. My husband had a plate of chips and garnish with a small Normandy chicken portion that was raw in the centre.
The waitress was very apologetic about this when she cleared the plates, and we were not charged for this meal. She then brought the dessert menus. The menus had a lot of food stains on the back of them which quite honestly should have been checked before being given to customers and discarded. At that point we asked for the bill and left. Overall, it was a very disappointing experience and one that we will not repeat. The lack of attention to detail was astounding, it felt as if we were in the way of afternoon tea bookings and the all-important New Year’s Eve night time festivities.
I sent the above to HDV customer services on Jan 1st, and received an automated reply, and funnily enough nothing since.