Last weekend I met one of my good friends in Birmingham for a catch up and gossip over lunch. There are so many places that I want to check out at the moment, every time I go out to eat I find myself mulling over for ages where to try! That weekend I decided we would try out Malmaison. My friend had eaten here before in the evening and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to it.
For a Saturday lunch, the brasserie seemed quiet – there was only one other table and a couple of other people eating in the bar. I would have thought there would have been more passing trade with its position in the Mailbox, with its upmarket shops. We started off with a couple of glasses of prosecco in the bar, lovely (as always) and a nice touch of a strawberry on the glass, but a little pricey I thought for prosecco at £10.25 a glass.
I also got a quick glimpse of the lobby and foyer area when I nipped to the toilets – it all seemed rather plush and nice, blood bright colours and decor; although looking a little closer it maybe could do with a little TLC – some bits of threadbare carpet and small stitching issues in the upholstery were showing! Not major problems though!
We only wanted a relatively light lunch so after a look at both the A la Carte menu, and the Summer Classics menu we chose a couple of their salads. My friend went for the Chopped salad, crisp gem, avocado, pancetta, Colston Bassett Stilton & roasted walnuts. I had the ‘Mal’ Caesar salad – I liked the way with this they gave you the choice of various other ingredients to jazz it up a little. I chose chargrilled chicken and avocado, but you could also have pancetta, red onion, anchovies or tomato. We also had a side order of Hand Cut Fries with Aoili to share.
Now some might say you can’t really judge a restaurant on just eating a salad and chips, but I think there are several things you can look for that are really quite telling about a place. Firstly, the combinations of ingredients, so in my friends’ salad she thought the combinations and amounts of each went really well. Just enough blue cheese, not too much crunch from the walnuts and lovely, creamy avocado. The other thing I think about is the dressing – too much, too little, bland etc. In my Caesar’s case, the dressing was lovely, you could taste the saltiness of the anchovies cutting through, and there was just enough to get some in each mouthful but not to create drowned soggy salad leaves. And my chargrilled chicken had a great grilled flavour and was juicy and moist. The hand cut chips were left skin on (winner) and were crispy and fluffy and a really good quality garlic aoili was a perfect accompaniment.
The service was pretty good on the whole apart from at the end when we asked for the bill; the waitress bought it over and stood there waiting for us to get out our cards/cash which left us feeling a bit rushed. I couldn’t really understand this as there were still only about 4 tables in the restaurant at that point!
Never mind, it did not mar a lovely relaxed tasty lunch, and I would go back for dinner to sample a bit more of the menu and hopefully some of the bustling evening atmosphere.
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own