Monday, March 31, 2008

Malmaison Brasserie

Wed 26 Mar 2008

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I am on more mailing lists than you can poke a stick at. This is very useful, because it means I'm usually quite on the ball with various food-related deals around town. It was August last year that we visited (and were impressed by) the Malmaison Brasserie, so the current lunch time deal - The Main Event - had to be investigated.

This lunch time deal is a main course, a glass of wine and a coffee for £9.95. I'd booked but, last Wednesday at least, there was no need. We settled into our table, munched on bread, butter and tapenade, and looked to the menu. The 'deal' menu is, unsurprisingly, cut down: we had a choice of fish of the day (grilled sea bass with new potatoes and a herb salad), moules frites, a chargrilled pepper and goat's cheese risotto and a lamb shank. Admittedly, nothing there to set the culinary world on fire but all solid and sensible lunch time choices. The wine choice is limited to house red and white (although these are still more than passable).

It seems we were bent on causing problems. Three of four opted for the lunch time menu (two moules frites, one sea bass) but the fourth went off piste, ordering a starter of chicken livers and black pudding. Just as I was starting to think our order was taking a while to appear, our waiter turned up to tell us that he'd just been informed there were no moules frites. Fortunately, with a short menu (and a conference call to attend to!), there was no prevarication and the sea bass and risotto were the back up choices.

We went back to waiting, with more bread and tapenade, and resisted the idea of a second glass of wine. The food, when it arrived, was very good. My bass was grilled and seasoned perfectly and sat atop delicious buttered new potatoes and shared the plate with a lovely, lightly dressed salad. I'd be more than happy to go back and eat this dish over and over again. I so often find that eating fish in restaurants reminds me that, while finding interesting recipes is all well and good, sometimes a bit of fish should be just grilled, or lightly fried in butter. The risotto was also quite generously proportioned and swiftly disappeared. The only slight disappointment was the very small chicken liver and black pudding starter. Although apparently delicious it was a small dish that saw potato and risotto offerings heading towards the eater!

As before, the service was fantastic and our waiter couldn't have been more apologetic about the problem with our order. I don't think service (10%) should have been added to our bill, but at the same time, having had the situation handled well and having the table supplied with additional bread, I was in no mood to quibble.

We were all agreed that there's definitely space in our work lives for further lunches at the Mal ... I wonder when it will become necessary to book?

1. Malmaison Brasserie, 1 Swinegate, Leeds, LS1 4AG, phone: 0113 398 1000

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