My idea of brunch is a soft poached egg on an English muffin with a steaming pot of coffee. But as I approached Malmaison at 1.45pm on a Sunday I was hoping for more.
Creative and witty, the menu is styled as The Mal on Sunday newspaper and looks more like lunch than brunch. A sharpener from the inventive cocktail list was in order. JC plumped for a Hemingway Martini which was delicious, while I opted for a tamer, but equally gorgeous Virgin Shirley Temple. Our cheerful waiter, Nathan explained the form. The starters are served from the ‘Chef’s Table’ which is a pleasant, relaxed buffet. The table heaved under a tremendous selection of Mediterranean inspired hor d’oeurves – hams, cured salmon, cheeses, chutneys, breads, stuffed jalapeños, roasted vegetables, ham hock…the list went on. However, the pork terrine with prunes and pistachios paired with freshly baked fruit bread was the star of the show.
Normal service resumed for the mains. I opted for the fishcakes, while JC had roast beef. Don’t get me wrong, the fishcakes were excellent, however as JC tucked into his beef, food envy set in. It was delicious, perfectly pink and accompanied with a vertiginous Yorkie filled with a good slug of gravy. We needed a breather between the mains and desserts, so Nathan held our desserts until we gave him the nod. JC’s sticky toffee pudding was a pretty portion of syrupy loveliness but my artisan cheese board lacked variety. Some quince paste or chutney would have been nice too. Although, there is the option to visit the Chef’s Table again for dessert, where a crepe or a waffle can be rustled up for you.
There are some great touches here that make Sunday lunch really special. The décor is cool. The atmosphere is laid back and lively and the service is faultless. So many restaurants get Sunday lunch bafflingly wrong, but Malmaison is spot on. Perhaps by giving Sunday lunch a casual brunch vibe, the pressure’s off and everyone can relax. To quote the quirky menu, ’The Mal Shakes Up Sundays’. It does indeed.