In the Manning household we don’t have Sunday dinner that often. Don’t get me wrong, we love a good old Sunday roast with all the trimmings, but it’s just not something we do religiously each Sunday.
Maybe it’s the fact I didn’t grow up with traditional weekly roasts or maybe it’s because we both work slightly strange shifts, but a roast dinner is something we have when we really fancy one, whether that’s a Sunday or a Monday or a Friday. But when the cold weather comes, that ‘really fancying one’ happens all the more often.
And now, dear readers, times are gonna change. Mr M and I now have a new member in the blogging gang – a little puppy who goes by the name of Brandy. Obviously, she’s bringing with her a bit of a change in lifestyle – there will be fewer jaunts abroad just the two of us, fewer boozy dinners in posh restaurants, but plenty more weekend breaks in dog-friendly places and tonnes of adventures. Including long walks and Sunday dinners.
So in preparation for her arrival, we got started early for the winter with what will probably be one of our few city centre lunches – trying out Malmaison’s ‘So Much’ Sunday lunch. If you’ve been to Birmingham, you’ll have probably seen Malmaison – the slightly swanky-looking hotel that occupies the front side of the even swankier looking Mailbox.
For a relatively posh place, the Sunday lunch is attractively affordable. An unlimited hors d’oeuvres table to start, a choice of main courses and desserts, all for £19.95 which I think is pretty darn reasonable. The menu actually doubles as a brunch menu, with dishes like eggs benedict, a full English, or blueberry pancakes on offer.
The Chez Mal Brasserie is just off the slightly industrial but modern and funky bar, and is equally trendy. On the Sunday we went it was pretty busy, reflected by the noise levels (slightly noisier than I would ideally like but hey, better than being deathly silent). There’s a casual feel to it, which is nice for a Sunday chillout and it’s clearly a go-to place for plenty of couples, families, and friends.
Once we got settled, we couldn’t help but check out the ‘Chef’s Table’ for our starters. Tucked in a little room off the restaurant was a buffet-style set-up with the much trumpeted ‘unlimited hors d’oeuvres’. For a greedy guts like me, the fish platters of smoked salmon – hot and cold – array of cold meats and terrines, and the hand-carved Serrano ham, not to mention a large selection of salads, were a dream come true.
We could have added soup as an extra course, but decided to try to limit ourselves so we could leave space for mains. Needless to say, we still managed to gorge ourselves on the dish and cold meats, with me using the excuse of it being good for me with lots of Omega whatsisface and all that.
For main course, I quite liked that there’s not only a choice of some classic Sunday roasts – USDA Black Angus Picanha Rump with thyme and rosemary Yorkshire pudding or a whole Normandy corn fed chicken to share – but also a range of other main courses. Burgers, tortelloni, papardelle with rabbit and a few veggie courses.
Clearly, we opted for the beef, which came with all the trimmings in a nice array of autumnal colours. We could choose between rare meat and slightly better cooked so went for the former and it was impressively pink, just how we both like it.
The meat was great quality, though it’s quite unusual these days to see an offering that’s not keenly locally sourced. I’m intrigued to know why, but it didn’t detract at all from the taste. The Yorkshire was light and fluffy but I couldn’t really taste the herbs it was apparently made with.
The veg was a real hit. Crunchy roasties, and beautifully cooked seasonal veg, vibrant in colour and in taste and cooked just right.
My only criticism would be the gravy. I’ve often declared that one of Mr M’s great skills is his gravy-making. It’s thick and packed with rich meaty flavour. My love for his gravy is such that he now has to make extra to account for the spoonfuls I slurp out of the pan while we’re waiting for the rest of dinner to cook.
I know that not all gravy is going to be like his, but at Malmaison is was neither gravy nor jus and just felt a bit lacklustre. Perhaps that’s an effort not to detract from the taste of the main event on the plate, but personally I would have liked the gravy to have made a bit more of an impact.
Since it was a ‘spoil ourselves’ Sunday lunch, we decided to go for dessert (who am I kidding, we always find an excuse to have pudding). For me, the classic vanilla crème brûlée. I’ve got to say, this was one of the best I’ve had in a while. Creamy vanilla with just the right level of sweet and a lovely crunchy topping of the perfect thickness.
Jamie, as ever, went for the chocolate option. The ‘Hot chocolate’ is an indulgent mess of marshmallows, white chocolate and vanilla ice cream with a pot of hot chocolate sauce on the side. You can’t really go wrong with this kind of thing, and he wasn’t disappointed.
Over all, we were impressed by Malmaison’s Sunday lunch. There was bucketloads of choice, the food was good bar a few small things I would change (none of them big), the service efficient and it was all just £19.95. A great price for a hearty Sunday lunch I reckon. If you want a country pub with a rustic roast then this probably isn’t for you but for a city centre stop-off, it’s just right.
We were invited to Malmaison to try the Sunday lunch so our meals were complimentary. All these views are my own.