Review: Chez Mal, Malmaison London
Style Points: 4/5
Malmaison London is a relaxed, sleek and chic hotelier with many homes away from home across the UK. Chez Mal, located in the basement of the Malmaison London hotel is traditional steakhouse and classic French brasserie.
This delightful combination of the menu is matched by the chic, classy decor of the restaurant, ideal for post-work drinks, a girlie weekend and even business meetings. The dark lighting, red neon signs, private booths, plush leather seats and impressive cocktail list means Chez Mal would not be out of place in a busy west-end street full of bars and boutiques, but this is a more laid-back luxe. No pretentiousness here!
Would I Want Seconds?
When we arrived at Chez Mal we were greeted by Stefano, it's uncommon for restaurant managers to do so, however Stefano himself was our attentive, charming, hands-on waiter for the evening. As we arrived we were offered glasses of water and popcorn. I was expecting the regular kind - lightly salted perhaps but I wasn't at all prepared for the addictive goodness that is ... truffle flavoured popcorn! Warm and salty and let's face it - not so glamorous to eat but who cares when it tastes that good! We take our seats under one of the many cool signs, this one reads "Did you know DIET stands for - Did I eat that?" .
We started with cocktails of course, my guest chose the Aperol Spritz (Aperol, Prosecco & soda) which was light and refreshingly fizzy with a strong aftertaste, this was ordered from the Summer cocktail menu where you can also order by the glass or jug for a group (or just you, no judgment here). I tried the Bad Boy Good Girl (Maison champagne, Absolut original, Strawberry purée, Belvoir strawberry and rhubarb, lemon juice and basil) which was a slice of summer - pleasantly fruity with a slight kick.
After nibbling on some soft warm crusty bread and large juicy green olives, we begin with our starters. I wanted something light and summery so I ordered the burrata, fresh pea and broadbean salad (£8) which was well-presented; a cloud of creamy white cheese similar to a mozzarella on a bed of green salad with large croutons, drizzled with a balsamic vinegar. The vinegar brought out the taste of the dish and it made at pleasant starter.
My guest was keen to stick to comfort foods and ordered the tempura of calamari and prawns (£9.50) which was lightly battered with lots of flavour, served with a wasabi sauce on the side which was a relief as neither of us care very much for wasabi (sorry wasabi lovers!).
Next up, the main event! I was struggling to decide between the sea trout and the catch of the day: swordfish, Stefano assured me the catch of the day was a good choice and would be super fresh. My grilled swordfish (£19.50) was full of flavour but soft in texture and served with green beans and a miniature saucepan of bearnaise sauce. I'm going to need a moment to acknowledge the sauce, folks. I know that being dairy-free means I have denied myself of such delights but this sauce was so good I couldn't stop whacking it on everything. It was a hot warm buttery sauce with chives just perfectly paired with the fish.
We also had a side of heritage potatoes which were large, soft and purple! Really interesting wholesome texture served with a sprinkle of salt. Stefano paired this with a glass of Chablis, a light, dry smooth white with floral notes.
My guest opted for the rib-eye steak served medium (£28), this was nice and tender but we found that the secret Mal sauce highlighted the taste little more than the steak alone. Stefano thought it best to pair this dish with a long-lasting glass of Shiraz, a bold red to complement the strong flavours which worked perfectly.
Now for an unexpected surprise: the cheeseboard! An impressive array of high quality cheeses from England and France were wheeled out on a trolley. We got a full rundown of the regions the cheeses came from and the differences in taste and they were finely cut and served with a sweet jam and jelly as well as thin crackers/biscuits for cheese. The Brie was a favourite! After this treat, I shudder at just hearing the word "dessert" but the show must go on...
But first, Espresso Martinis! This was my first time trying one and they were sweet, creamy and the coffee taste wasn't overwhelming at all. I thought it was actually rather pleasant and this is coming from someone who doesn't drink coffee!
Lastly, a smooth scoop of lemon sorbet (£3) for me and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (£3) for my guest. A simple but effective end to our meal.
Could I Afford Seconds?
Our three course meal at Chez Mal without the extras and drinks worked out as a mid-range £35.50 each. We washed our meal down with an Aperol Spritz (£6.00) and a Bad Boy Good Girl (£12.50) which gives you an indication of costs if you are considering dropping in for cocktails!
All in all I found Chez Mal to be a relaxed, trendy atmosphere offering classic hearty dishes in style with the potential for an exciting cocktail evening.
Chez Mal also offers an affordable afternoon tea with a twist (classic scones or mini wraps and burgers) from only £12.50. And an unlimited Sunday lunch from £21.95. Chez Mal offers brunches and afternoon teas alongside their dining menus. And all that is left to say is "Did I Eat That?" Yes, I'm afraid I did.