Increasingly there are restaurants around the Barbican which are featuring a special Sunday brunch menu – designed to cater to the whole family as well as to individuals, couples or groups. This review features the brunch at the Malmaison hotel’s brasserie in Charterhouse Square where Stephanie Ross took her family plus one (comprising herself, Nellie (a sixth former on work experience), Olivia (aged 13) and Alex (aged 9) for a Sunday brunch in late July.
Prefer your brunch more breakfast or more lunch? The Malmaison Brasserie caters well for all tastes. Chef’s Table offers savoury fare: frittata, cold cuts, cheeses, breads, crackers and salads. For those with a sweet tooth there are pancakes, waffles, fresh fruits and M&M’s. There was a good variety, making it easy to enjoy a delicious main, side or starter. Mains include Sunday roast, Eggs Benedict, pasta, fish cakes, chicken, tuna and risotto. “The Mal on Sunday” menu, with cover story and games of battleships and Sudoku – styled on the similarly named tabloid newspaper – was appreciated by all our younger diners.
The Chef’s table at the Mal
We started with leek and potato soup of the day, then helped ourselves at the Chef’s Table. Soup was a bit salty. We enjoyed crunchy lettuce topped with parmesan, light potato salad, brie and stinking bishop with fresh bread, seeded crackers, rocket and frittata. Mains: Nellie had roast prime rib of beef with all the trimmings. Meat was very tender, cooked to perfection. Yorkshire puddings and potatoes were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and full of taste. Lightly cooked green beans and sweet baby carrots were fresh and crunchy. The parsnips were soft; she would have preferred them roasted. Olivia had chorizo and mozzarella pasta (served in a pan which pleased her). Alex had a tender sirloin with frites – a better selection than Stephanie’s choice of fishcakes (light on fish, heavier on potato and wholegrain mustard sauce).
Crêpes Suzette for dessert came with fresh orange segments. The syrupy sauce made the crêpes a little soggy. In retrospect, as crêpes were available from the Chef’s Table, we could have plated our own using the fresh fruits and M&M’s and we would have chosen a smaller portion size. Alex loved his mint chocolate ice cream and insisted I mention orange slices without pith on the Chef’s Table.
The hotel is a grade II listed building with an imposing Victorian brick façade. In a past life it accommodated staff from St Bartholomew’s Hospital. You can lose track of time in the modern basement brasserie. Tables are laid with white linen and seating is comfortable. The larger tables are well spaced. Natural light comes in from high south facing windows. Staff are friendly and efficient. We all felt this was a good place to spend an afternoon with friends and family relaxing, eating and drinking. We would definitely return for another Mal on Sunday brunch, though if soup of the day was a heavier recipe, we would skip it and just go for the Chef’s Table. Come to the Malmaison on an empty stomach – you’ll be well fed.
The London Malmaison’s impressive exterior
The other diners were all adults when we visited. However, there is a simple children’s menu and smaller portions of some other mains may also be ordered. Alternatively, Chef’s Table offers a suitable balanced variety. At £19.95 for adults and £7.95 for children under 12 years, the pricing is very reasonable given the quantity and choice of food. For drinks, Bloody Marys are £8.95 and the Mal Pick Me Ups range from £5.00 to £13.50. There is also a wide range of wines and champagne ranging from £19.50 to £85.00 per bottle.
The Malmaison Hotel Brasserie, 18-21 Charterhouse Sq, London EC1M 6AH. Tel: 020 7012 3700 www.malmaison-london.com
Opening hours – Breakfast served 7-10am Mon-Fri; 8-10.30am Sat, Sun. Brunch served 11am-3pm Sun. Lunch served noon-2.30pm Mon-Fri. Dinner served 6-10pm daily.
Reviewed by Stephanie Ross and St Marylebone work experience sixth former, Nellie Khossousi.