DIARY: LET'S DO LUNCH - The Bistro at Hotel du Vin

The building that now houses the Hotel du Vin is the beautifully converted 1823 Birmingham Eye Hospital.

The ornate cage lift in the reception area was originally used to transport patients, and a charming terrace with fountain has been created from a once-dreary central yard.

Only the fascinating before, during and after photographs on the walls, together with some elaborate 19th century graphics on the outside of the building, hint at its prior use, however.

The Bistro at Hotel du Vin is among the best restaurants in the city.

The service is second to none: friendly, understated and in tune with the clientele, so if you're in a hurry they will oblige. They also remember your name, which enhances the welcome.

The style of the waiting staff is a sartorial mix of French country house and quirky brasserie, but always remains informal and relaxed.

The menu is simple - classic dishes complemented by fabulous wines.

When I lunched there recently, my guest had mushroom cappuccino soup with crayfish tails, followed by pan-fried sea bass with watercress risotto and aged balsamic.

I had smoked haddock kedgeree, followed by lightly curried monkfish, mussel and chive cream sauce, and chips - all of which were delicious.

Where: Church Street, Birmingham B3

Contact: 0121 200 0600

How much: £25-£30 per head

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