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Mal (very) content with chef's top table; Taste Test Dawn Collinson finds a Sunday lunch change for the better.

THERE have to be rules, don't there? Otherwise we'd all be living like savages, or reality TV contestants. Or maybe savage reality TV contestants, which are the worst type.

Anyway, as a rule, we don't review restaurants twice within a year at least. But where there are rules, there are breakages, and the Malmaison's Sunday offering is one such example.

Until the start of 2013, the Mal served up its Toast to the Roast: a traditional three-course affair with the usual options and trimmings. When I tried it, I was less than impressed with the roasties and butter-drenched veg, but everyone deserves a second chance don't they? Now the waterfront hotel presents something altogether different, its chief vote winner being the Chef 's Table starter which is seriously worth a booking alone.

Each place setting comes laid with a newspaper-style menu, as befitting anything bearing the title The Mal on Sunday, which serves its purpose cleverly in headlining the generosity of the Sunday brunch selection, outlining details of each course along with a list of Bloody Marys, cocktails, wines and even a few puzzles.

For a set price of PS19.95 (or PS7.95 for under 12s) diners can take their pick from the aforementioned table, 10 main dishes and half a dozen desserts.

Soup is available as a starter, but there was no way we weren't going to sample the expanse of hors d'oeuvres laid in front of the on-duty chef.

Our waitress duly delivered plates and we headed off to help ourselves. It was akin to being in a high-end deli, so spoilt for choice it was hard to know where to start and even harder to know when to stop.

It would be easy to just fill up on piles of gorgeous nibbly bits and leave no room for a main, never mind pud.

We did our best to be restrained, but still came away with plates loaded up. My particular favourites were the bean salad with avocado, a beautiful smoked salmon, couscous, roasted peppers and a mustard-dressed potato salad I could have cheerfully eaten two or three helpings of.

There was an array of cooked continental meats too.

For mains, we decided to bypass the usual roast options (rib of beef and Normandy chicken), in favour of grilled swordfish for husband, pumpkin ravioli for me and a Mal lunch burger topped with bacon and Gruyere for Matthew.

Foodie Venue: Malmaison, Way, Liverpool. Website: www.locations/liverpool Details of meal: PS19.95 (PS7.95 under courses.

While we waited, and because they were there (ask mountain climbers, that's why they do it too), Service: Friendly Value: Excellent, pile-it-high chef's Disabled access: we ordered a couple of different house Bloody Marys (PS8.95). Shaken and spiced to our taste, they were a real Sunday treat and I imagined just how fabulous they'd be on a hangover.

When the mains arrived, each choice proved a good one. Matthew loves a burger and this was a hefty juicy version, with fries which he said ranked amongst the very best.

Facts William Jessop 229 5000 malmaison.com/ Mal on Sunday, 12) for three Husband's swordfish was also substantial and nicely cooked, coming with a side dish of roasties and another of veg (still too buttered for my liking, but he thought them fine).

and efficient especially with the table starter!

Yes The ravioli was an imaginative veggie alternative, coated in a delicious sage and pinenut butter, the flavours were unusual but lovely and it wasn't too heavy which was perfect after the greedy starter.

We asked for a half-hour break before desserts, simply because we couldn't fit another mouthful in.

By the time we felt ready, Matthew and I decided to share a crepes suzette, while husband chose classic creme brulee. We asked if we could watch the chef whip up ours and the waitress came to tip us off when it was time.

Theatrically speaking, it was definitely worth the trip from our seat. Taste-wise it didn't disappoint either and he was right about the homemade pulp making all the difference.

Desserts finished, we waited again before considering the waterfront walk, flicking through our Mal newspaper again. "Man explodes after Sunday Brunch" read the lead story. It was easy to see how it could happen.

CAPTION(S):

DELI-GHT: The new chef's table d'hote selection on offer at the Malmaison on Sundays, and (inset) Sunday newspaper menu

the Mal on
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 15, 2013
Words:739
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