I rarely rub shoulders with celebrities. (I prefer their knees.) I once saw Peter Capaldi on the Tube but that's as close as it gets for me. So when eating in Bistro du Vin last month and Sir Ian Botham sat down on the table across from me, you can probably understand how bowled over (groan) I was. I mean, I'm not particularly interested in cricket, but you've got to take what you're given. And he is a legend, after all.
But, I digress. Bistro du Vin is located on Clerkenwell’s foodie fulcrum St John's Street – and, although it's fairly new, has fit in well. There is an air of relaxed confidence about the place right from the off; the staff are welcoming and the service is slick. Upon being warmly greeted at the entrance, my friend and I were offered a glass of bubbly (a glass each that is, no sharing here) and were shown to our table.
The restaurant's central open-plan kitchen is a nice touch, giving a focal point to the room and letting you have a cheeky peak at the chefs at work. However, you don't need to see the chefs working to know they don't muck about with the food. Not that it’s particularly groundbreaking – rather it is as delicious as it is simple. My Cornish crab starter was wonderfully paired with a glass of 2009 Field of Mars sémillon from the Hunter Valley. The sweetness of the crab sparkled next to its crisp, lemon finish.
For my main, I opted for a bone-in sirloin – full of flesh and flavour. Matched with a 2009 Moric Blaufränkisch – a bold Austrian number that would put many a malbec to shame – the pairing was great. The slightly spicy, earthy taste of the wine flattered the steak's richness (– like peppercorn sauce, but with more alcohol and less bits). Obviously the 'du Vin' part of the name hasn't been ignored, the sommelier has put together an excellent wine selection.
One of the most exciting parts of Bistro du Vin is the fine wines by the glass. You can order a glass of wine you fancy and then have it delivered automatically through pneumatically pumped taps. It allows you to experiment with wines that you might otherwise pass on due to the bottle price. A taste of a £100-a-bottle 1992 riesling? Sign me up! I was hoping the machine would have a bit more of a Heath Robinson vibe about it but I guess that would be (poor) form over function.
Bistro du Vin may be a new restaurant but it feels like an established part of the area already. The food is top notch and the wine list caters to everyone from dedicated oenophiles to curious novices. I'll be returning myself to work my way through the fine wines. So if you see a slightly drunk journalist telling everyone about the time he ‘met’ Beefy, come and say hi.
Bistro du Vin
40 St John Street