Malmaison hotels have always paid good attention to food quality in their restaurants and this has been a part of the ethos with the chain’s sole London hotel. With the Brasserie Malmaison the hotel has a remarkably airy basement restaurant – which does have some natural light from basement lightwells. It is attractively laid out and smartly appointed – white tablecloths and tables spaced well – good for a business luncheon, for example, or perhaps for a dinner a deux, or a leisurely breakfast. Comfortable seating with upholstered chairs or leather banquettes. May be due for a spruce up but overall perhaps just pleasantly worn!
Foodwise the Brasserie Malmaison’s prices are around standard for a reasonable restaurant in the area – a 3-course meal would come out probably at around £30-40 a head plus wine, although one can cut this back by choosing one of the best dishes on the menu – the much praised Mal Classic 250 gram burger with gruyere cheese, bacon and served with fries ay £14.95 – or its even more upmarket brother – the same but with a foie gras slider and onion rings which will set you back £20.95. Some critics have called this the best burger in London.
The rest of the menu though suggests considerable thought has gone into it. There are interesting starters and mains available, some excellent sounding salads in half and full course portions, a selection of grills (including the Mal burgers mentioned above).
For our meal we were first given a very pleasant amuse bouche of scallop and foie gras. For the first course I chose frito misto – a tempura of squid scallop and tiger prawns with a herb aioli and citrus sauce while my companion chose wild mushrooms on a toasted bloomer in Madeira with garlic butter – but eschewed the garlic butter. This was avowed to be excellent. Personally I was slightly disappointed with the frito misto, but I had been spoilt with an absolutely brilliant seafood platter at the Chapmans Peak Hotel in Hout Bay near Cape Town about ten days earlier – and there are few better places for seafood than this part of South Africa!
For the main course I had coriander crusted rack of lamb, spiced potatoes and mint yoghurt – the lamb was exceedingly tender melt in the mouth standard and excellent. My companion had rib-eye steak medium rare – but this was declared to be a little tough and looked a little as though it may well not actually have been ribeye as it appeared perhaps too lean for that particular cut. A side dish of sprouting broccoli served in what looked like mini le creuset pots, was a little overcooked, which was a shame.
Desserts – chocolate fondant and mixed sorbets – both excellent and I also had the selection of cheeses – wheeled over on a trolley. Good offering including the brilliant black bomber, stilton, camembert with calvados, a very tasty goat – and a couple of others I can’t remember. Overall a pretty good meal, but more care could have been taken with the vegetables.
As an added incentive for Barbican Life readers. The Brasserie Malmaison is offering a 25% discount off the total price for diners – although this can’t be taken in conjunction with any other discount or voucher reduction which the restaurant may be offering at the time. The discount will make a meal there particularly good value for Barbican residents in nice surroundings.
The restaurant is open 7 days a week from early morning. Opening hours are Mon-Fri 7-10am, Sat-Sun 8-10.30am, Mon-Fri and Sun 12 noon-2.30pm and 6-10.15pm.
Brasserie Malmaison, Malmaison Hotel, 18-21 Charterhouse Square, EC1M 6AH. For reservations call 084469 30656. Web: http://www.malmaison.com/locations/london/brasserie/