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Bistro Du Vin
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It makes sense that the French do Afternoon Tea; macarons often make an appearance on an upper tier of the cake stand and French patisserie is of course world class. Furthermore, if anyone is going to appreciate the need to fill the long gap between lunch and dinner with a bonafide meal, namely ‘ Le Goûter’, it is the French. 

Afternoon Tea at Bistro du Vin is served in two courses.  My friend, Lea whose birthday we are here to celebrate is sipping a classic Vesper when I join her but I opt for champagne (Lombard & Co Cuvée). Tea,  when we are ready for it,  is a pot of Simply Sencha green tea for me to accompany the first plate of savouries; a nod to the ‘auld alliance’ as apparently Le Goûter’ is strictly cake only. 

A galactic looking  navy coloured, glazed pottery plate contains French twists on Le Sandwich.  Severn and Wye smoked salmon and cream cheese on bread, egg mayo with the all too often forgotten and underrated cress comes in a soft brioche ‘sub’, the croissant has Gruyère cheese with ham.  Heritage tomatoes on a galette are intensely fruity and sweet and last but not least a nano tart of goats’ cheese and spinach is popped in the mouth. 

I always have a second pot of tea – this time Moroccan Mint with Rose – to accompany the cakes whose arrival at Bistro du Vin is heralded by giant blackcurrant flavoured candyfloss, like cumulus clouds crowning two tiers of delicacies. 

We get stuck in and there are some true treats here. Lemon sorbet is topped and tailed with cream. At the very bottom of the glass is lemon curd and at the top is a wee slither of real lemon.  It’s the best way I have ever eaten sorbet which let’s face it can be boring. Not here. Dark chocolate and raspberry teacakes are cracked open to reveal luscious mallow and a slim layer of fruity currant jelly.  Scones are small, clotted cream is big.  A teeny tarty lemon meringue pie dissolves in the mouth. 

We ate inside as the showers were heavy but I would recommend taking your Afternoon Tea in the pretty courtyard at Hotel du Vin if possible. Definitely have a cocktail or champagne, lashings of tea and an afternoon off to enjoy it all. (S. Wilson)

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