The weather on the night we chose to review Paris Wine Bar, Hove, was horrendous. Howling winds and torrential downpours quite literally dampened our mood as we struggled along Church Road but as soon as we entered Paris Wine Bar, the trial of navigating the flooding streets was forgotten.
We were met by the welcoming buzz of people enjoying each other’s company: couples and friends mixed with a group of younger souls who had just experienced a wine tasting evening. The atmosphere was one of warmth and conviviality; the perfect haven to seek refuge on a wet and wild November evening.
We were seated at our table by Bar Supervisor, Sam from Ravenna, Italy who immediately made us feel at home. He took our order for two Hendricks Gin and Tonics whilst the ritual scanning of the proffered menus took place.
A medley of Mediterranean and locally sourced starter and main dishes to accommodate most appetites presented themselves. From the Chef’s signature burgers to Rib-eye and T-bone steaks; from pastas and salads to mouth-watering grilled meat and seafood platters for sharing, the selection on offer was pleasantly varied, incorporating the best of International and closer-to-home cuisine favourites.
My partner, an avid seafood fanatic, decided on salt and pepper Baby Squid served with sweet chilli jam to start, followed by pan-fried Sea Bass fillets. I, on the other hand, a confirmed meat lover, chose to kick off with the Antipasto plate with grilled English Rack of Lamb as my main. Sam went through the extensive and predominantly French wine list, recommending a crisp Chablis to accompany the fish and a silky Cotes du Rhone for the lamb.
The squid was lightly battered to perfection and succulent, whilst the Antipasto consisted of salami, prosciutto, and coppa ham from Sardinia, mozzarella, green olives, cherry tomatoes and wonderful artichokes which added an exciting freshness. Both dishes were more than adequate in terms of portion size and our taste buds were certainly enlivened in preparation for the approaching main courses.
My lady’s sea bass came with stacked sautéed potatoes intermingled with wilted spinach and a delicate salsa verde. The fish was moist, well-seasoned and hints of the sea lingered on the palate. My lamb was served with homemade mint sauce and a Greek salad generously populated by fresh feta cheese. The rack was grilled to perfection. The meat was tinged pink and tender, comfortably falling from the bone on demand.
Sam’s wine suggestions were spot on. The Chablis was served chilled to the right temperature and was truly sublime. A beautiful clean wine with hints of grapefruit blended with other citrus fruits gave off a remarkable nose and the perfect accompaniment to the fish.
The Cotes du Rhone was full-bodied and robust, yet had a smooth bouquet. Its flavour simultaneously burst with fruit and spice, beginning with berries and red currants seamlessly moving on to a last note finish of light spice. This choice of red matched my lamb to perfection and I can highly recommend it as one that has ‘legs’, as they say.
The service throughout our meal was first-class. Sam, in tandem with the delightful Toma from Lithuania, discretely ensured everything was to our satisfaction without interrupting our conversation. There was a lovely touch when Elvis, the Bar’s charismatic manager, made himself known and enquired as to our well-being. He made my partner and I feel like VIP guests. The team are clearly well-trained and professional, and in my local dining experience, a lot of establishments in the vicinity would do well to follow their lead.
We finished a lovely evening with double espressos and liqueurs – Tia Maria for her, Courvoisier for him.
As far as cost related to value is concerned, we considered all aspects of our evening before passing judgement. The total inclusive bill came to £123:
Antipasto – £6
Squid – £7
Sea Bass – £18
Rack of Lamb – £19
Chablis, Paul Deloux – £28
Cotes du Rhone, Les Abeilles Rouge, Jean-Luc Colombo – £24
Aperitifs, Digestifs, Coffees – £21
In our opinion, it was worth every penny. The food was of high standard, the service we received, the ambience we encountered, and the joie de vivre we felt in Paris Wine Bar on that particular November night more than made up for any discussion on the final figure. And yes, we did choose exceptional wines which pushed the price up a little but we assuredly got what we paid for – the Chablis really was an outstanding example of French wine at its best!
As last words, I can fully understand why Paris Wine Bar has become a landmark in Hove for friends, families and lovers who enjoy laid-back and charming yet stylish evenings.