Malmaison Leeds Brasserie

October 01, 2015

Following on from my previous post about mine and Martin's overnight stay in Malmaison Leeds, we were also invited to review the hotel's restaurant - Malmaison Brasserie. It's not often that me and Martin eat in a "fancy" restaurant (we usually favour burger joints!), so this was a lovely treat. The Brasserie is located in the basement underneath the hotel, and can be accessed from an entrance on one corner of the building, or if you are a guest at the hotel you can enter via the reception area. When we arrived we noticed that there are two parts; the first is the bar, where there is lively music playing and a bar food menu available, and the second being the main restaurant. We visited on a Sunday evening, and whilst it was quiet to start, as the evening went on it became surprisingly full.

Review of the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Review of the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Bottle of Deuchars IPA at Malmaison Leeds Brasserie

The decor of the restaurant is very classical, with a heavy influence from France, as you can probably imagine. Think low lighting, dark wooden furniture, empty bottles and cases of wine and crisp white napkins. This all led to a romantic atmosphere, but it didn't half make it difficult for me to take photographs! As such, I can only apologise that they are a bit grainy. I have to admit that it did feel odd to be getting my camera out at each course at such a intimate restaurant, but hey, that's a blogger's job, right? When we arrived, we chose a table over by the windows (my theory being that it would allow me a bit more light - sadly I was wrong), and started off our evening with a bottle of Deuchars IPA each. Me and Martin are not wine fans; I can have a glass once in a while, but truthfully it's not usually to my taste, and Martin doesn't like it at all. This being so, we nearly always choose a beer to compliment our meal and on this occasion, I believe we chose well. Surprisingly dark for an IPA, this Scottish beer was not too hoppy nor too rich, and as such was a well balanced choice for the food we were about to enjoy.

Hors d'Oeuvres/Starters menu at Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Olives at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Bread and butter at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie

Before deciding what we wanted to order for our starters, we were offered some bread and olives. The olives arrived pretty much straight away, but there was a bit of a wait for the bread and we were starting to wonder - this was before a waitress came over and apologised for the wait, as they were waiting for it to come out of the oven! We were more than happy to wait a few extra minutes with the promise of freshly baked bread; there are fewer things that are better. Sure enough, when the bread arrived, the smell was incredible and it was warm, with a thick, crunchy crust and soft and fluffy in the middle. It was served simply with butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the latter of which really surprised us due to it being so sweet. Martin doesn't usually like balsamic vinegar, but he really enjoyed it with the bread. I devoured all of the olives as I love them, and they were lovely and fresh.

Fritto Misto starter at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Chicken Liver Parfait starter at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Toasted Altamura bread with the Chicken Liver Parfait at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie

I was surprised by the wide range and varied choices of food that was available at the Brasserie; from burgers to mussels, they pretty much have it all. When a restaurant serves such a varied menu it can be difficult to get it all right, so we were keen to see how well they delivered. I chose the Fritto Misto; tiger prawns, calamari and courgette in a tempura batter, served with sweet chilli and aioli dips. Looking back, I should have possibly chosen something smaller, as it surprised me by being pretty huge! The tempura batter was light in texture but a bit too greasy for my taste, but the tiger prawns in particular were excellent. I found the aioli dip to be a bit too rich and thick to work well, but absolutely loved the sweet chilli; it really complimented the dish and helped to bring out the flavours. Martin went for the Chicken Liver Parfait, served with toasted Altamura bread and fig chutney. This was very rich and creamy, and incredibly smooth; again, it was a large portion, and Martin commented that he would have been more than happy with a portion half that size. He still finished it though! The fig chutney was sweet and tangy, and when enjoyed together with the toasted Altamura, all of these elements blended together into one very satisfying starter. The contrast in textures was very apparent, and helped to create a very balanced dish.

Entrees/Mains menu at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Smoked Haddock Fish Cake at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Truffle Mashed Potato at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Moules Frites at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Fries with the Moules Frites at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie

Moving onto the main course, and it took a little time for me and Martin to decide what we wanted! However, when I spotted the Smoked Haddock Fishcake on the menu, complete with a poached egg, spinach and grain mustard sauce, I couldn't pass it up. I deliberated over whether to get a side or not, but temptation got the better of me and I decided to get the Truffle Mash to go with it. The fishcake was easily the best I've ever had; it may appear small, but don't be deceived as it is packed full of fish, peas and potato and is extremely filling. I was pleased to discover that the poached egg did have a runny yolk (as all good poached eggs should), and the spinach was cooked just enough for it not to be limp and soggy. The icing on the cake - or should I say the sauce on the cake - was the grain mustard sauce, which when paired with the smoked fish, made for a heavenly combination. I admit that I did struggle to finish it, and fell slightly short, but I would not hesitate to order it again in the future. In hindsight, I could have gone without the mash, but I am extremely glad I tried it. It had been cooked with a slightly crunchy outer, but was buttery soft all the way through and surprisingly strongly flavoured. Martin went for the Moules Frites; mussels cooked in Meantime Pale Ale with pancetta, served with hand cut fries. I was tempted to order this dish myself, but seeing as I had never had mussels before, I was unsure whether I would like them. Having tried some of Martin's I can say that I really like them - especially if they're all as good as these! Martin really enjoyed the broth that was made with Meantime beer, and said it was a nice change to the usual white wine version. The broth also included carrots if I remember rightly, and a generous amount of pancetta; Martin was especially pleased with this. The fries still had their skins on and were lightly salted, which provided a satisfying crunch and were not greasy at all.

Dessert menu at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Valrhona Chocolate Cheesecake at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie
Mal Hot Chocolate at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie

Time for our final course, which could only be dessert and I really fancied some chocolate. Luckily for me, Malmaison Brasserie currently have two chocolate options; both of which me and Martin went for! I've been really into dark chocolate recently (up until about a year ago I wouldn't go near it), and so the Vairhona Chocolate Cheesecake was the obvious choice, being made out of both dark and milk chocolate. I was thrilled to be delivered a pretty substantial slab of it, with plenty of topping; I like plenty of cheese in my cheesecake! This turned out to be very difficult to cut through due to the thick chocolate layer, but it was absolutely worth it; rich and extremely decadent, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. It well and truly satisfied my chocolate craving, and then some! Martin's chocolate choice was the Mal Hot Chocolate; white chocolate and vanilla ice cream, marshmallows and hot chocolate sauce. We were pretty tickled by the fact that it was served in a mug, just like a real hot chocolate, and Martin relished in covering it all in the thick, gooey chocolate sauce. The white chocolate ice cream in particular was to die for, and the marshmallows were as soft and as sweet as you can imagine. It was an extremely indulgent dessert and I was a bit jealous of Martin - but I know I wouldn't have been able to eat it all!

Golden Dream and Mexican Espresso Martini cocktails at the Malmaison Leeds Brasserie

To go with our desserts (like they weren't enough!), we decided to try one of the dessert cocktails. Well, Martin decided to get one, and I just had to get one to join him, didn't I? Me and Martin both love the liqueur Curaçao, so like the desserts we had another two obvious choices. My sweet tooth was drawn to the Golden Dream; Liqueur 43, cream, orange juice and Pierre Ferrand Curaçao. I've never had a cocktail like it; sweet without being sickly, strong without being overpowering and yet so light, it made for very easy drinking indeed. Martin's obvious choice was the Mexican Espresso Martini; Jose Cuervo Plata tequila, Pierre Ferrand Curaçao, sugar syrup and espresso. I neglected to try it as I dislike coffee, but I think it's pretty safe to say that he thoroughly enjoyed its smooth yet bitter flavour. The cocktails provided the perfect end to a fantastic meal; both me and Martin were pleasantly surprised to find that such a varied menu can be done well. I would love to try something different from the menu in the future to see if this continues to hold up, but if other reviews I have seen of the Brasserie are anything to go by, this seems to be the case. Whilst not the most unique restaurant in Leeds, we were both impressed by the quality of the food, and it is an excellent all rounded choice for an evening meal in Leeds city centre.

Disclaimer: Our stay at Malmaison Leeds, including dinner in the restaurant, was complimentary,
in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own and Martin's.

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