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Muddy reviews: Bistro du Vin, Cambridge

There's a new head chef in town and you'll find him at the ever chic Hotel du Vin. Muddy Suffolk & Cambs hotfooted it down to the restaurant to check out the new French fare... c'était délicieux, merci!

Bonjour from Trumpington Street Cambridge, where you’ll find a little slice of French paradise in the form of Hotel du Vin’s Bistro du Vin, which has a new head chef, Richard King. So naturally, Muddy had to check out the new food for you.

exterior of bistro du vin cambridge

THE LOWDOWN 

You’ll find the Bistro on Cambs’ smart Trumpington Street, opposite The Fitzwilliam Museum and an easy stroll to The Backs with incredible views of the colleges. The Bistro du Vin is separated from the hotel by a little alleyway (the original carriage entrance back in Georgian times) so you don’t have to jostle with the tourists checking in at reception. It’s straight into the gorgeously styled salon for fabulous French fare.

interior of bistro du vin

THE VIBE

Once inside you feel like you could be in a posh French bistro in Paris’ Saint-Germain-des-Prés area (except for the pelotons of unsteady university students on bikes flashing past the windows!). The staff are all French too, adding to the Gallic atmosphere. The interiors are just right for a smart lunch or dinner. Modern muted colours, mixed with pops of orange and moody lighting and the much-loved-these-days open kitchen. As its lunchtime we head straight to the window seat, which is flooded in light – impressive on a November day. It might be part of a nationwide chain, but there’s nothing formulaic about this bistro, it feels like a one-off.

tables in the restaurant at hotel du vin

SCOFF & QUAFF

The kitchen is now headed up by Richard King, of The Cricketers at Clavering pedigree and a CV that also includes a stint as private chef to Ken and Barbara Follet! The website says the food is inspired by both French and British classics, but a quick sweep of the menu shows its 95% French. Starters include Escargots à la Bourguignonne, tartiflette, and duck liver parfait. Mains range from a sharing platter of Chateaubriand to classic cassoulet and moules marinières. There’s a small veggie section too, something you wouldn’t find in an actual French bistro! We head straight to mains: roast normandy chicken with braised baby gem, trompette de la mort mushrooms, peas and pancetta; and herb crusted cod with white bean and San Marzano tomato stew.

chicken main course at bistro du vin

Both were flavoursome, perfectly tender and delicious – the gravy around the chicken being a particularly moreish sweet and salty combo. The wine list here is as impressive as you’d expect from a French restaurant and we opt for a delicious French sauvignon blanc that perfectly complements the food.

creme brûlée

Embracing the French theme, dessert is a creme brûlée, which is HUGE! Even with my sweet tooth I only manage half. Luckily my fellow diner is less than impressed with his cherry dessert (so uninspiring we’ve forgotten the name and it has since been taken off the menu!) so he helps me finish it off. I think even a creme brûlée connoisseur from across the Channel wouldn’t be able to find fault!

cheese board

If only we’d had room for this delectable-looking cheese trolley. There’s always next time!

THE MUDDY VERDICT 

window seat in restaurant

Good for: A relaxed lunch, a smart dinner or a celebration. They’ve nailed the ambience here, with the acoustics just right and a cosy feel despite it being a large space. You could quite happily have a working lunch too, without feeling like anyone is overhearing you.

Not for: There is a children’s menu, but the restaurant feels quite chic and adult – not really the sort of place to take kids if you’re worried they won’t sit still!

The damage: Three courses for lunch will set you back around £35pp, a four-course tasting menu dinner £99pp and Sunday lunch is £26.95 for four course – all pretty reasonable, we’d say!

Bistro du Vin Cambridge, 15-19, Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1QA

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