7th June 2015 – 1pm
Situated on the Shore in Leith, Malmaison’s Brasserie sits nestled into the ground floor of their hotel. I had bought a voucher deal for Malmaison’s Sunday lunch, which consisted of a soup and/or buffet starter, a brunch or lunch dish and a dessert. Upon arrival, we weren’t really sure whether the Brasserie was the venue of the meal but as there was no-one in the main reception area to ask, we headed that way. Luckily we were right and were greeted by a member of the waiting staff. We were shown to our table and given the menu, which listed the contents of the buffet along with the mains and desserts. There were a selection of brunch options, including a cooked breakfast, and for the lunch options there were a couple of roasts and some other mains such as burgers. I decided to risk full scale over eating and ordered the ½ roast chicken. My friend went for eggs benedict. We had to wait a little while for someone to take our order but we assumed this was to make sure the buffet table was never too busy. This seemed to work well as we were the only two selecting our buffet items at that time.
We decided to skip the soup and picked some bits and pieces from the buffet. There was a nice selection of Italian and Spanish meats, terrines, bread, cheeses, crackers, salmon, pate and a couple of salads (including a bean salad). There were also a number of dips and sauces but were not labelled so it was a bit of a guess as to what they might be. The buffet table is also relatively small, which means nothing is sat out too long and is replenished regularly. We were restrained enough not to get a bit of everything but between us we managed to taste most things that were available. The spread was pretty tasty. My dining companion particularly liked the terrine and I thought the pate was delicious. The meats were of a good standard and the salads were fresh. The only real complaint was that the bread was a little hard. Not that it was stale but it was just a little difficult to eat. We only went for one helping but some diners were heading back up for more.
We received our mains pretty quickly after completing the buffet course. My chicken came with a pork and lemon stuffing, vegetables and gravy. Sadly, the first mouthful of the chicken I had was from a piece that had been sat directly under the stuffing and a piece of what looked like pickled lemon. It was so overpoweringly lemony that I thought I had eaten washing up liquid. However, the stuffing itself was actually quite nice and when I moved to eating other parts of the chicken that had not been touched by the lemon, it was moist and tasty.
The accompanying gravy had a good flavour and wasn’t too greasy. The vegetables, which has been served in a cast iron side dish had a mixed success rate. The carrots and parsnips had been honey roasted and were absolutely wonderful. I probably could have eaten a plateful of just those. The green beans were nice but were quite crunchy and could have probably done with a minute or two more cooking. The potatoes were disappointing. They were really too large and the outsides were chewy rather than crispy. On the other side of the table, the eggs benedict was proving to be a nice dish. My friend commented that there seemed to be just the right amount of everything on the plate, so each mouthful had a balance of ingredients. The only complaint was the fat on the bacon wasn’t rendered enough and should have been a little more crispy.
As I had not eaten quite all of my main, this made dessert easier to eat than trying to cram it in down the sides. There was actually a very nice choice of classic desserts including crème brulee and sticky toffee pudding. Once our order was finally taken, I opted for a hot chocolate dessert and my dining partner went for the dessert du jour, which was a berry and coconut slice. When the hot chocolate dessert arrived I had to check that they hadn’t just given me a drink of hot chocolate as it arrived in a cup. Talk about confusing! However, a gravy boat arrived with the hot chocolate sauce inside it and within the cup there was ice cream and a swirl of vanilla cream topped with a couple of marshmallows. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I was particularly surprised at how good the cream was as often cream doesn’t stand up well to ice cream. Everything was smooth and silky. The chocolate sauce was a touch too bitter for my taste but not so much as to spoil the dish. I know that many people would prefer this bitterness level so it’s just a matter of personal taste. On the other side of the table, the berry slice was enjoyed but it was a little difficult to tell what was in each layer.
So, overall Malmaison’s brasserie offers some solid food, when they get it right.
Food – 7/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 9/10
Overall – 30/40
Cost – £30 for two three course meals, no drinks (voucher deal) and would be £40 without the voucher.