While the average hotel can feel a little vanilla, we absolutely LOVE Malmaison. This boutique brand – founded in Scotland – boasts unbeatable style, dramatic decor, and a real sense of fun. So whenever we’re invited to eat, drink or dance, we are SO there.
Scan our Instagram posts, and you’ll soon see Malmaison really knows how to throw a party. The food, the cocktails, and the welcome are always top notch.
No doubt you spotted us, looking fabulous, at the hotel’s fifteenth birthday in Leith – the first-ever branch, once a brothel. Or perhaps you admired us leading the queue to the buffet table at the dazzling launch of its newest hotel, on St Andrew’s Square.
We even popped in on Christmas Day for a little pre-turkey tipple. Suffice to say, we’re big, big fans.
Which is why we’re only too happy to explore Edinburgh City’s brand new menu, and follow on with a series of cheeky cocktails.
Now it may not come as too much of a shock when we say: we arrived deeply hungover …
The night before is something of a blur, but definitely involved wine, whisky, and a lack of restraint.Though despite our delicate state, thankfully we still look fabulous. But enough about us.
Inside the Georgian townhouses that form this hotel, Malmaison’s trademark dark palette has once again been used to great effect. The artwork is bold and playful, and we adore the tailor’s dummies splashed with paint, and upcycled into lamps.
We’re also big fans of the staff. Super friendly, but not in a forced / scripted / dreadful American way, just genuinely lovely. Even through a mask, and that terrible hangover we mentioned earlier, these Social Bitches can definitely feel the love.
Soon we’re sitting in a booth, admiring the use of velvet, and enjoying a refreshing glass of bubbles. Eventually, we also peruse the menu, which has been stripped back to classic brasserie dishes, with the odd twist.
After careful consideration, and the arrival of a gorgeous Australian Riesling – Rag & Bone, we highly recommend – we are at last ready to eat.
The first dish is one of the specials, Pan-fried sea scallops with chorizo and sauce vierge. While we personally prefer our Portuguese sausage a little spicier, this surf and turf dish is wonderful start. Both generous in size, and perfectly cooked.
But our favourite entree has to be the Chez Mal buttermilk fried sesame & chilli chicken wings, with sriracha mayonnaise. Whether you’re hungover or not, this is a delicacy that makes you feel better about the world. Tender, spicy and seriously moreish.
Highly skilled in sucking the meat off a bone [ a Samoan thing, apparently ] Isaac shows his appreciation by leaving absolutely no trace of chicken – even at a microscopic level – and announces that his hangover is now miraculously cured.
My approach is ordering the Fillet Steak with fries & vine cherry tomatoes. It’s gorgeous, and as promised, is indeed: lean, incredibly tender, with a slight marbling. It’s also a brilliantly judged medium-rare, and joined by a wonderfully buttery hollandaise sauce.
So now we’re both cured, and talking about cocktails. Perhaps more wine??
But we digress. While I’m oohing and ahhing over the restorative powers of fillet steak, Isaac’s equally excited by the Soy & maple blackened salmon, with hot & sour noodle salad, cashew and chilli dressing.
A very different take on salmon, he’s loving the Asian influence, as well as the variety of tastes and textures this dish so expertly balances.
We’re also impressed with the sides. The Sautéed garlic and chilli field mushrooms offer a real kick, and are highly addictive. Meanwhile the Tenderstem broccoli, green beans & wild garlic pesto is scrumptious, with just the right amount of crunch.
At this point, talk of drinking more wine becomes a reality, and we also find ourselves delving into the dessert menu. Here the focus is on comfort, rather than spectacle, but we are definitely not complaining.
The Chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream is sheer bliss, and just as indulgent as you’d imagine. But the real star is the Neapolitan profiteroles.
Proof that the best ideas are often the simplest, this dessert offers three profiteroles, each with a scoop of ice cream – strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.
Then you take your accompanying jug of warm, thick chocolate sauce, then proceed to smother. Simply divine.
With today’s hangover cured, it’s time to start work on tomorrow’s …
Our next stop of course is the cocktail bar downstairs. Again, it’s full of Malmaison style and quirk, combining Georgian features with a greenhouse vibe. Bonkers, but fabulous.
Meanwhile the atmosphere – despite social distancing, and the utterly outrageous no-music-rule – is actually pretty great. The lighting’s suitably subdued, the mood is relaxed, and there’s loads of lively chat.
Even more exciting is the Malchemy cocktail menu, which is endless both in terms of choice and temptation. Choosing is definitely difficult, but in what feels like seconds, our cocktails arrive, and they are absolutely sublime.
The Rhubarb Triangle combines rhubarb gin, rhubarb liqueur, rhubarb bitters, and few other enticing ingredients to create one of the most refreshing cocktails, well, let’s just say: ever.
Meanwhile A Vote for Pedro reinvents the espresso martini into something ten times as lush, by adding the likes of raisin infused sugar and chocolate biters to the mix. Truly stunning!
So wowed are we, we see no harm in going another round. Soon we’re ordering drinks that may even be symbolic of the path we’re now on. Such as the aptly named Home in Three Days, a magnificent mix of cognac, pinot noir, sugar, egg and chocolate bitters.
A Moment in Thyme also tickles our fancy, offering an exhilarating blend of gin, mezcal, lemon, peach liqueur, sugar, thyme and peach soda.
We toast what’s been a wonderful night. The food, the atmosphere, the cocktails, and of course the staff are all delicious. What happens next, well, is a bit of blur, but there’s every chance it may have involved wine, whisky, and a lack of restraint.
Reviewed September 2020
Malmaison, Edinburgh City
21 – 22 St Andrew Square