While there are doubts about the research behind it, this hasn’t prevented the third Monday of the year having become widely accepted as ‘Blue Monday’. What isn’t up for debate is the fact that January can hit hard, as the care-free excesses of Christmas rapidly become a distant memory. The double whammy of returning to work and giving up everything that we love (Dry January anyone?) can be a soul-destroying mix.
So what’s the solution? Grin and bare it? Nah.
How about keeping the festive spirit going a bit longer? Now we’re talking!
So in the name of science, that’s exactly what we did, taking a little sojourn up the A1 to the Hotel du Vin in that loveliest of Yorkshire towns, Harrogate. Did our ‘brave’ experiment work? Read on dear reader, read on…
Close to Harrogate’s beautifully expansive The Stray parkland, Hotel Du Vin is housed in a wonderful terrace a stone’s throw from the town centre and conveniently close to its rail station. Deceptively large in size, the reception area adjoins a modern bar and restaurant (more of that later).
A delightful spiral staircase took us up to the rooms, which are all named after famous wine personalities. Ours was named after Robert Mondavi, the renowned American vineyard operator, which is a nice touch, although it can be trickier to remember than a simple room number, especially after a few glasses of Merlot!
In-keeping with the grandiosity we’d seen in the reception area, our room provided plenty of space with an equally large bathroom and shower, as well as a spacious balcony that faced onto the hotel’s walled courtyard. Perfect for a late nightcap under the stars.
Again the restaurant was nicely designed and modern, helping to add to the classy ambience we’d already experienced throughout the hotel.
In terms of the culinary offering, the bistro has just launched its latest version of its Prix Fixe menu (two courses for £19.95 or three courses for £24.95 for three courses, available Monday, Friday, Saturday until 7pm and Sunday after 6pm).
Delightfully pink smoked Gressingham duck breast, accompanied with meaty pickled chestnut mushrooms, confit garlic, shallot rings and tasty red wine jus.
Beautifully presented pan fried scallops, Yorkshire chorizo and cauliflower puree.
A dish that is simplicity personified, the trio of succulent Yorkshire Dales braised lamb neck fillet with spiced red cabbage and creamy mashed potato came together to form a trinity of hearty deliciousness.
In contrast with the lamb option, this dish has much more going on but is just as high in quality. On show were generous chunks of traditionally smoked Grimsby haddock, surrounded by gratinée orecchiette pasta and creamy herb velouté, under a pleasingly crisp cheese topping.
Tart lemon crème fraîche added nicely to this lip-smackingly moist Littleover Apiaries honey cake.
Made with crunchy Bramley apple and Harrogate’s very own Slingsby Gin, this crumble helped bring the evening to a satisfying conclusion abetted with lots of cinnamon cream.
The house merlot, as would be expected of a bistro with over 600 wines on its list, this mellow Cabernet Sauvignon provided natural fresh berry notes to accompany our evening, which was finished off with a couple of expertly prepared Espresso Martinis.
Following a pass (or two!) of the comprehensive continental breakfast selection, our respective main choices, Kippers with a slice of lemon and poached eggs on muffins with Holllandaise sauce, were both of a deliciously high standard.
For those looking to chase away the January Blues within a Yorkshire setting, we can’t think of many better ways of doing so than a night away at the Hotel du Vin in Harrogate.
The Bistro provided the epitome of classic French cuisine with plenty of authentic Yorkshire personality thanks to the inclusion of high quality local ingredients. The room meanwhile was extremely comfortable and perfectly lent itself to a night of dreamless sleep.
We came away feeling throughly well fed, relaxed and in a much improved frame of mind to face the rest of what January had in store for us.