Brighton’s famous prom is as English as fish and chips, but nestled just off the main drag diners can escape to a little piece of France with bistro classics, charming service and a superb wine list.
Hotel du Vin’s bistro, traditionally the preserve - naturally - of French wines, broadened its scope to celebrate the best of English for English Wine Week recently.
When this country first started making wine it was seen as inferior to the output from across the Channel.
Now, however, the country is winning blind tastings in sparkling wine competitions - an outcome which is surely making French winemakers spit out their Beaujolais’ in shock rather than because it’s the done thing at tastings.
We started off with a glass of sparkling Ridgeview, bursting with the taste of crisp apples, along with a basket of fresh bread and a bowl of olive oil as green and grassy as a spring lawn.
Ridgeview, based a stone’s throw away at Ditchling, has been scooping awards since it launched 20 years ago and the wines are known for their ‘balance of fruit with a wonderful backbone of acidity’.
Don’t worry if all you know about wine is the difference between a pinot grigio and a pinot noir - Bistro du Vin has a sommelier on hand to guide you towards a glass of bottle which will complement your food and appease your wallet.
Starters include a smoked salmon plate with a ring of finely chopped egg, cornichons, parsley and red onion, which cut through the richness of the salmon and a plate of Wye valley asparagus bathed in a rich Hollandaise sauce.
To go with the food, we had a bottle of crisp and citrussy white Chapel Down Bacchus 2016, from nearby Tenterden in Kent.
Mains included a dish of roast cod, with fell apart into fat pearlescent flakes, with Puy lentils, button onions and pancetta, and a rich aubergine and halloumi bake.
Puddings of a classic French tarte tatin and a vast creme brulee with a beautifully crisp, sugary crust were accompanied by a glass of Tokaj (a departure from the French/English theme) as sweet and smooth as liquid honey.
The two countries haven’t always seen eye to eye over the centuries, but the best of French cooking and English wine complement each other perfectly.
• Bistro du Vin is at 2 Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AD. Call 01273 855221 to make a reservation.
The Bistro opens for breakfast (7am-11am Monday to Friday, 8am-11am Saturday-Sunday), lunch (12pm-2pm Monday to Friday, 12pm-5pm on Saturday and 12-4pm for Sunday brunch) and dinner (5.30pm-10pm Monday to Thursday, 5.30pm-10.30pm Friday, 5pm-10.30pm Saturday and 6pm-10pm on Sunday).