Malmaison, the boutique hotel in the Mailbox in Birmingham, isn’t known for doing things by halves. When I went to the launch party of their Work and Play venue, they pulled out all the stops, so when I was invited down for Sunday lunch, I was excited to see how they would add the Malmaison touch. It only took a glance at the menu to see that, once again, at Malmaison, more is more; four courses, including a chef’s table of hors d’oeuvres – all for just £19.95pp! Read on to find out how we found the biggest Sunday lunch in town…
Chez Mal, Malmaison’s bar and brassarie, is a modern, stylish setting, with live music playing in the bar and a busy dining area on the Sunday afternoon that we visited. Our server was very friendly, and showed no signs of rushing despite the scale of the operation that must have been going on behind the scenes. The four courses consisted of the chefs table, the soup of the day, a brunch or main course and a dessert. It was slightly disappointing that there wasn’t a vegetarian roast option, as we were both in the mood for a traditional sunday lunch, but there was at least a lot of choice for mains otherwise considering it was a set menu.
The soup of the day was parsnip, which was delicious; creamy, full of flavour and in no need of extra seasoning. The only down-side was that it was served in small, un-heated bowls, so went cold rather quickly. The chef’s table was definitely the highlight of the meal. The spread was so extravagant and there was so much choice, it really was a foodie’s heaven. We honestly could have had a meal’s worth and then some, just from this self-service course, so it was difficult to restrain ourselves! The seafood was clearly very fresh, and the cheeses were great quality. Despite there being a large meat section, as pescatarians we didn’t feel as though we’d missed out one bit; each food group had been given equal amounts of attention.
For his main Jack opted for the smoked haddock fish cake, served with a poached egg and grain mustard sauce. The egg was done to perfection, and really complimented the strong haddock flavour. This dish was fine, but nothing special. My main, however, was a real disappointment. I went for the veggie burger, made with chickpeas, lentils and beans and served in a brioche bun with roasted pepper and spiced yoghurt. These ingredients sounded like they’d make a killer veggie burger, but it ended up being really quite bland. The burger itself was too dry, and as there was nothing to hold it together it just turned into crumbs on the plate. Lashings of the spiced yogurt saved it from being in-edible, but even with this I still ended up leaving a fair bit.
Somehow, we still managed to find room for dessert. The menu was pretty uninspiring, but Jack was pleased to see a classic sticky toffee pudding. The sauce for this was beautiful, and the cake itself indulgent but not too heavy. The warm dessert was served with a side scoop of vanilla ice-cream, which is always a winning combination. I went for the ‘hot chocolate’, white chocolate and vanilla ice-cream served with marshmallows and a pot of hot chocolate sauce. It turned out that the first pot of hot chocolate sauce was, in fact, stone cold, but the servers replaced it happily. All I can say about this dessert was that the marshmallows had a really nice homemade feel to them, but after this, it really was just some average chocolate sauce on some average ice-cream.
Overall, the Sunday lunch at Malmaison is great value for money, and the chef’s table offers something that can’t be matched anywhere else in the city. Though a couple of our dishes were disappointing, the price means I would certainly return to give some of the other options a chance. The traditional roasts looked amazing, so I feel as though this dish is where most of the attention is given – a dry bean burger just isn’t quite the same! Thank you to everyone at Malmaison for having us, we will see you again for a second try soon!