A couple of weeks ago I unexpectedly won a free brunch via a twitter retweet giveaway from the Malmaison in Birmingham. For those who haven’t heard of the Malmaison, they are a small chain of hotels that style themselves on chic trendy and accessible luxury. I have heard several good reviews about the Malmaison’s from various other Blogger’s in the past and I was looking forward to spending my Sunday afternoon at Brunch.
We arrived at the Malmaison Brasserie at 10 to 1 ready for our table booked at 1. We were told to get a drink in the bar while we waited for the restaurant to open and they took my coat. The restaurant manager was very friendly and it was a good first impression.
We made our way to the bar to order our drink. I was a little indecisive and tried to joke with the bartender. He wasn’t particularly friendly and would not raise a smile. As we ordered our drinks there was another member of staff scrubbing down the bar. It was a little unseemly considering the bar had a reasonable amount of patrons trying to enjoy a drink before their brunch. The bar area itself is a little shabby. The woodwork on the pillars and furniture are pretty scuffed and doesn’t lend itself to the smart image the Malmaison sells itself on. Maybe I’m picky but I notice decor details like this.
We waited to be fetched and taken to our table. The staff here were very friendly and attentive and our waitress quite enthusiastic. We were advised there were 4 courses included in the brunch, a soup of the day, a selection from the Chef’s table, a main course and dessert. We chose not to have the soup and went straight up to the Chef’s table.
The Chef’s table looked incredible. There was a big selection of cured meats including a cured leg of Acorn Ham (that is pig that was fed purely on acorns – awesome), smoked salmon, crayfish, salads, pickles, breads, another chef with an omelette, pancakes and waffle station. It was very exciting. We filled up our plates and seated ourselves for a casual chat over our food. It really was delicious. You can go up as many times as you want to the Chef’s table, so on the second round we went for some freshly made waffles. They were pretty good too. However, halfway through eating this another waitress (not our original waitress) brought out our mains. It was a bit awkward because she stood over us while we moved our plates of waffles over to the side so she could place our main down and we had to eat sideways over the mains to finish our waffles. It was a little disappointing to get the mains so early on as I was hoping to go for another visit to the Chef’s table. But I guessed they were trying to hurry us along.
Our actual waitress came along and apologised for the mains coming out early and asked it we wanted more drinks. We ordered two Bloody Mary’s (one was a Caesar) because it’s brunch right? Sadly, these took a while to arrive too and along came another apology from our waitress.
It was really starting to go downhill from here which was a shame as it had seemed to start off so well.
For the mains I ordered the Half Roasted Chicken and my friend ordered the Fishcake. They were accompanied with three side dishes of cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes and greens. My Roast Chicken was ok, not the best but tender enough. There was a ball of stuffing on the plate which was soggy and almost raw, it was really terrible. And the yorkshire pudding was chewy and tasted like it was cooked from frozen or reheated. I didn’t touch the roast potatoes as they looked undercooked. I spent most of the meal staring longingly back at the Chef’s table craving more Acorn Ham.
When we were offered the dessert menu we asked to wait until we had finished our Bloody Mary’s first. I don’t think they go particularly well with sweets myself. Once we finished our drinks we waited and waited for our waitress to come back and take our dessert order. It was frustratingly difficult to get her attention. The restaurant was now a little busier but not full. And yet she was preoccupied with other duties and was not scanning the room at all to check we were ok. We waited nearly half an hour to order our desserts. We both picked the Hot Chocolate with Vanilla and White Chocolate ice cream and we advised that they had run out of white chocolate ice cream so we would only be getting the vanilla.
Our desserts were quite tasty, rather sweet but I would probably order them again.
By now it was pushing on to 4pm and we were looking to get going, we had a shopping centre we wanted to check out! But trying to get the attention again of the waitress was near on possible. We waited a good 20 minutes or so. I even put my jacket and nothing. So we walked to the reception where I was handed a £20 bill for the 2 Bloody Mary’s. It was a little shocking how expensive these two drinks were! And to top it off, they had added a service charge. I thought that was a bit cheeky considering I was a guest for the free brunch and I think tips should be optional.
My free brunch for two ended up costing me nearly £50. That is £35 on 4 drinks and £15 on getting into Birmingham. And the service ended up really letting the experience down.
Given his experience behind a bar, the boyf is not happy that two Bloody Mary’s cost 20 quid and the Cesar’s were made incorrectly, without the celery salt rim. I don’t think that is a reasonable price at all.
I’d give the Sunday Brunch at the Malmaison a 3 out of 5. The service really let it down and the prices for drinks are quite unreasonable. The Malmaison styles itself on being upmarket but frankly it just isn’t quite up to the standard I would expect.
Good bits – Chef’s Table, Acorn Ham, Dessert, Location, initial enthusiasm from some staff
Bad bits – Drinks expensive, Mains, Staff not always attentive, bar area scruffy
(I have given my feedback to the Sales Manager at the Birmingham Malmaison who will pass it on. Hopefully the issues with service will be improved. However the drinks will remain expensive.)