Tucked away off the Shore, the newly refurbished Chez Mal Bar and Brasserie are modern and inviting. Each has its own terrace for when the weather is a bit warmer, overlooking the water. It’s a blissfully quiet location. The building has an “interesting” history. The building was started in 1883 with a subscription of £9,000 to accommodate 56 seamen, 9 officers and 50 shipwrecked seamen and apparently at one point it was a brothel!
It is astonishing to note that the Malmaison Hotel has been in Leith for more than 20 years. How things have changed in that time too. Now Leithers smugly say that they really don’t need to go into the city centre as they have everything they need in Leith thank you. Certainly, with the Leith Farmers Market on Saturdays and a good selection of restaurants and bars and other amenities, it’s a lovely place to be.
To celebrate the new refurbishment we were invited to sample the bar and restaurant. We started with cocktails. Over the bar is a neon sign announcing “Don’t worry help is on its way”. It certainly was.
You can choose from a list of classic cocktails or if you are feeling a little daring, try the “Twists” – the classics updated, including the wonderfully named Painkiller, Vesper Martini and Smoked Old Fashioned, This last one was surely the most spectacular. Our barman arrived wielding a jar of smoke which he ‘poured’ into the cocktail. I particularly enjoyed my Gin Gin Mule – very gingery and the drivers amongst us enjoyed some refreshing non-alcoholic cocktails. A great start to the evening. Currently, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening there’s selected cocktails and champagne at £5 each!
Whilst of course we focus on food, there is nothing like being nosy. We were shown two of the refurbished bedrooms. I particularly fell in love with the New England style decor – very appropriate for a location near the sea.
In the restaurant, the menu sounded delicious. Being a big fish lover I was pleased to see a really good choice. If you relish a good steak there’s a separate section of the menu just for you.
The cooking is assured and beautifully presented. Flavours are distinct and dishes not over fussy. We tucked into starters. An eye catching steak carpaccio captured Olivia’s heart, my scallops and chorizo were perfectly balanced and Emma’s Thai chicken wings with BBQ sauce and arancini almost defeated her – it was a generous portion!
On to the mains, and the seared tuna mignon proved to be the star dish of the night, with many murmerings about its fabulous taste. My Goan mussels came with a coconut-y sauce which was a nice take on moules mariniere. Jonathan just quietly tucked into his rack of lamb, hoping no one would want to share.
Would we have room for afters? I never turn down a dessert if I have a little space left! By this point many of us were full, and I certainly made a good choice – a lovely, fresh delicate pineapple carpaccio with mint. Doesn’t it look beautiful!
It’s a relaxing restaurant, and far from what you might imagine a hotel restaurant might be. Certainly, one to seek out and enjoy.
Malmaison Bar and Brasserie
1 Tower Place
Edinburgh EH6 7BZ
Book on 0131 285 1478