Spring is my favourite time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the warm summer months but being so pale I tend to enjoy the spring time with a bit more enthusiasm – not to mention less factor 50. Now the (quite bonkers) weather we suffered during April seems to have finally retreated, it’s starting to feel like spring is really here at last, and so attending the Spring Menu Bloggers Banquet on Thursday at Malmaison Birmingham was perfectly timed.
Malmaison Birmingham is situated within the luxurious Mailbox complex; part of local history due to being the former post office building. The boutique hotel offers both guests and non residents a cosy restaurant and a large bar, and is widely considered one of the top hotels in the city centre – and Brum generally.
I’ve visited the bar before in a work capacity, but had never actually eaten at Chez Mal before, however on entering the bar via the side entrance (located in the lower level of the recently refurbed shopping mall) I’m reminded how special the place instantly makes you feel.
There’s a sense of modern elegance that radiates from Malmaison Birmingham which starts from the main bar, and upon closer inspection I notice the fully stocked fridges and shelves bursting with high-end wines and spirits, cementing its opulence. There is also a pretty show stopping cocktail menu with some new spring inspired additions.
The evening kicked off with the opportunity to try some of the seasonal tipples I’d clocked on the menu in the bar. The cocktails looked and tasted like the very definition of spring, and were a delicious way to wake up the tastebuds ahead of our meal.
The Grapefruit and Lychee Collins (£9.50) offered a sharp kick from combining Finlandia grapefruit vodka and lychee liqueur with fresh grapefruit. The Rhubarb and Basil Gimlet (£9.00) made from a fragrant concoction of Brockmans gin (the king of gin, IMO) Chase rhubarb liqueur, lime and a sprinkle of sugar was also refreshing and delicious.
As part of the Spring Menu Bloggers Banquet we were invited to take a seat in the private dining room; this was a very nice touch by the team hosting us. Adding a real sense of occasion, the beautifully decorated private dining space created an intimate setting for the 3-course meal.
Next was the main event. Upon being handed the bright pink menu, it was nice to see the chefs at Malmaison have created a fresh yet elegant set of dishes infused with spring flavours. Offering both lighter and more decadent options to suit contrasting tastes, the menu is filled with many of the seasonal eats you’d expect (including lamb) plus clean and delicate flavours such as herbs and sweet vegetables.
I actually found choosing my 3 courses really difficult (first world problems, right?) as I honestly could have happily eaten any and all of the options. Eventually I decided to start with the Fresh Burrata; a light dish combining mozzarella with a heritage tomato salad and herb purée. A perfect spring-inspired starter, the combination of creamy and fresh, zingy flavours created a layered and balanced dish. A really strong start to the meal for sure, and extra points for presentation.
I have to say, the Spring Lamb Benedict also looked and smelt absolutely delicious, and I had serious food envy watching one of my fellow diners tuck into that rich, gooey dish. Other options included a grilled mackerel dish.
For the main I chose the Pan Fried Trout – one of my favourite fish – which came with a broad bean and pea purée and Anya potatoes and truffle vinaigrette. Colourful and light, the flavours were fresh and I found the dish to be really delightful. The tender fish was cooked perfectly (especially the crispy skin), it was seasoned well, and the chive dressing married the greens and trout together. Visually it was also just dreamy, and the presentation was indicative of the luxury experience the Malmaison chain is keen to provide.
Other main options included Chicken Milanese and Wild Garlic Risotto which could be enjoyed with side dishes (additional £4 each) including roasted artichokes (I loved this side dish) and buttered spring greens.
Dessert brought more tricky decisions, but having had two fairly healthy, light options I decided to pick the naughtiest pudding: the Caramel Chocolate Brownie. Chewy and decadent, it was every bit as good as it sounds, and the creamy pecan ice cream was to die for. Other bloggers tried a cheese board and the parfait. All looked good but I remained delighted with my sweet choice.
Our hosts also talked us through their accompanying wine list selecting vinos to try with each course, and I also had a fantastic gin and tonic which came with olives – sounds strange, tasted beautiful!
Two courses at Chez Mal in Birmingham costs £19.95, or you may try all three courses for £24.95. With both vibrant food and cocktail selections to enjoy, the spring menu is worth checking out and is great value for money when you consider the setting and quality of the food.
You can check out the full fixed price spring menu choices here.
Legitimately one of the tastiest and satisfying meals I’ve had in ages – a wonderful evening and dining experience overall, with great food and fabulous company, happily including some familiar faces I was delighted to catch up with again.
Malmaison Birmingham, 1 Wharfside St, B1 2JR
*Disclosure: I was invited to try the new Malmaison menu by the lovely ladies at East Village PR and therefore did not pay for the meal. All views and photos are, however, all my own*