A friend of mine from London came up to visit me a couple of weeks ago. We both love food and he’s a raging carnivore. I had been invited to review the Sunday brunch at Chez Mal Brasserie, so thought it’d be a great opportunity to show him the Mailbox side of Birmingham.
I know the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin brands quite well and they take food and wine very seriously, so I had very high hopes. When I first arrived in Birmingham, I was lucky enough to attend the launch party of their new Work and Play space. They really impressed! I also used to work for du Vin and it was there I really became interested in wine.
If you haven’t heard of Malmaison, they are a small chain of classy, stylish boutique hotels. Malmaison can be classed as a relaxed, upmarket destination. With the premise of upmarket, comes a responsibility to provide a smart brasserie with quality food and service. Their food can be described as British-cum-French.
We went down for the Sunday lunch offer of 4 courses at £19.95. Yes £19.95 for 4 courses! For under £20 you can help yourselves to the soup of the day, a selection of hors d’oeuvres from the Chef’s table, select a main course and a dessert. There’s even cheese from the Chef’s table that can be added after the dessert if you have space.
“It’s the big cheese. The main event. Our gigantic, unlimited, ‘So Much’ Sunday Lunch.” – Malmaison
They pride themselves on providing “The Biggest Sunday Lunch in Town”. I compel you to find a bigger Sunday lunch in Birmingham!I arrived bang on 2pm and it was extremely busy with Christmas parties, family gatherings and intimate dates. I was warmly greeted before giving my name, and then shown to a table by the window.
My friend arrived shortly after and we were given time to catch up. Instead of being bombarded with lots of facts and questions to begin with, we were given the menu and the waitress took our drinks order.
There are quite a few options on the menu, including roasts and pancakes. You order your mains before heading to the Chef’s table, I settled on the Pan Fried Cod, whilst my friend had the Black Angus Picanha Rump Steak.
The Chef’s table looked like heaven. All my favourite edible goodies and delights in one room for my satisfaction. There was a selection of cured meats, cheese, crayfish, smoked salmon, vegetables, fruit and a selection of breads. I truthfully cannot stand buffets, but there was something about it being manned by a Chef that made me feel more comfortable.
My eyes were bigger than my stomach on this occasion, I filled up my plate and also went back for a cheeky, little second helping and an espresso size serving of The Soup of the Day. The potato soup was creamy, velvety and very well-seasoned. The nibbles from the Chef’s table were very good and offered lots of choice. I particularly loved the chorizo paste, similar to nduja but not at all spicy. After my second plate and soup, I was feeling a bit stuffed and sleepy! I could easily have gone into a food coma. Luckily the waitress asked us how we were doing and we decided to have a little break!
My plate of cod was delicious. I found the Mediterranean flavours refreshing and the dish very tantalizing. I hate tomatoes, so picked around them, but really enjoyed the chickpeas and olives.
The rump dish my friend had was sadly rather disappointing. It was overcooked and bland. From reviewing my photos, I also realised the Yorkshire pudding was forgotten. If it was my dish I would have noticed as that’s my favourite part of the Sunday Roast. The buttery vegetables that accompanied the roast were scrumptious.
We finished off with desserts which were far to heavy for us after the gigantic meal we’d just had. Although we went in the Winter, I would have liked to have seen a couple of lighter desserts on offer too. Nonetheless, the Sticky Toffee Pudding was a winning combination. Vanilla ice cream harmonious with the warm caramel sauce, toffee pudding and pecans. Friend went for the Hot Chocolate dessert, it was neither here nor there, and unmemorable. It was basically ice cream with chocolate sauce and marshmallows.
The Sunday brunch at Chez Mal Brasserie is a great idea, offering great value for money. The concept of the Chef’s table really caught my attention and is the unique selling point for the brunch. It might be a nice touch for the chef to be a bit more interactive, but I wasn’t really bothered by this. It’s Sunday after-all. The waitstaff service was faultless, absolutely spot on. Would I go back for the steak? No. For the wine and Chef’s table? Yes. Although the beef didn’t cut it, I’d be happy to return for the brunch and try something else.
Thank you East Village PR and Malmaison Birmingham (The Mailbox, 1 Wharfside St, Birmingham B1 2JR) for the meal.
As always, my writing and my honest views.