Food review: impeccable service and brilliant food at Malmaison Bar & Grill
Malmaison Bar & Grill has an effortlessly cool vibe, whilst still emanating quiet luxury.
Situated on the ground floor of The Mailbox in Birmingham, you first walk into a sleek, spacious bar with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at central Birmingham, while a flat screen plays football games for its guests.
After walking through the bar, you arrive at Malmaison's restaurant, with the neon lettering and navy blue colour palette creating a chic, cosmopolitan aesthetic. It immediately made me feel like I was in an American jazz club.
I've always wanted to try Malmaison's restaurant so arrived with high expectations, and the decor combined with the prime Mailbox location instantly made me feel like it was the place to be.
The service you get at a restaurant can define the whole experience and can make or break the evening. Thankfully, both my mom and I were treated like princesses by our charismatic head waiter, Sonny, and wine waiter, Tiago.
Nothing was too much for them and they were exceptionally kind and enthusiastic about welcoming us into the restaurant.
They seemed determined for us to have the best evening possible, which was touching as the two of us had had a rough week, after unexpectedly losing our cat.
Looking back on our time at Malmaison, it is our interactions with them that linger in my memory most, even more than the brilliant food and drink.
To start our experience in the restaurant, Sonny and Tiago recommended the house red, 'Maison Rouge', which describes itself on the bottle as having "beautiful dark fruit flavours with gentle hints of spice".
Personally, I'm more of a white wine than red wine kind of girl, but this was incredibly smooth, mellow, and moreish, and an exquisite accompaniment to the evening's meal.
I also have a sweet tooth, so it's no surprise that my favourite drink of the evening was the Banana Piña Colada.
This cocktail was like a pudding in itself and tasted like a sweet milkshake. While a normal Piña Colada has the signature tang of pineapple, this was unmistakably fresh banana - not artificial syrup or sweetener, but the vibrant taste of ripe banana. If I closed my eyes, I could have been in the Caribbean.
Dangerously, I couldn't overtly taste the rum or any alcohol in this cocktail, meaning I drunk it more like a milkshake, which could prove a mistake if you're more of a lightweight like me.
We also ordered a Strawberry Fizz mocktail, which is a definite win if you like alcohol but need to drive home or don't want to get too tipsy, as it tasted exactly like a non-alcoholic rosé.
The mocktail was thick and fruity, with a sweet strawberry taste. Like the Banana Piña Colada, these had the overwhelming taste of fresh fruit, as if they'd just been squeezed.
It was a stunning mocktail - gorgeous, sweet, conoting a sense of luxury with the strong taste and smell of rose.
Moving on to the food, I had a cobb salad to start while my mom chose her all-time favourite, the prawn cocktail.
She loved her starter, which featured thick, succulent prawns and a deliciously tangy sauce.
As a vegetarian, my only real critique of the restaurant was that there could have been more dishes for vegetarians.
For starters, I could choose between the cobb salad or the cauliflower and coconut soup, while for mains, it was another form of the cobb salad or a mac n' cheese.
I still had some element of choice, but I was unable to bring my boyfriend along for the dinner as his allergies combined with being a vegetarian meant he would have been severely limited in what he could eat.
While a salad didn't seem like the most dynamic choice in the world for me, I was surprised by how much I liked the salad, which contained avocado, aubergine, peppers, charred corn, courgette, squash, crisp gem, vegetarian Parmesan cheese, and ranch dressing.
Normally I'm not a fan of avocado but the pieces were incredibly tender and not too overpowering, adding to the flavour of the salad nicely.
Starters which would have tempted me if I weren't a vegetarian were the salt and pepper calamari with jalapeño, lime, chilli jam and crème fraîche, or grilled sea scallops in their shell - both of which were favourite foods of mine before I excluded meat and fish from my diet.
I followed up on the salad with the spring greens mac n' cheese, coated in béchamel sauce with a vegetarian Parmesan crumb dressing.
The pasta was light and soft, which combined wonderfully with the béchamel and the crisp Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top - which added a lovely crunch to the meal.
I also had a side of my evermore favourite - truffle and vegetarian Parmesan fries, which are the perfect combination of fried food and luxury.
These were absolutely wonderful and were up there with some of the best fries I've ever had: crispy on the outside, gossamer-soft on the inside, and drenched in beautiful truffle.
However, we also had a side of buttered spring greens. Do you know how good vegetables have to be to compete with fries? These were absolutely mouth-watering.
Tender, juicy, and gorgeous, these vegetables were an unexpected highlight of our dinner.
Malmaison Bar & Grill also has an impressive and wildly tempting selection of sides, which I hope to try on a return visit.
The field mushrooms sautéed in garlic, chilli and parsley sound incredible, as does the truffle spinach gratin.
My mom had the grilled black bream for her main, which was perfectly cooked, with a crisp skin but tender and juicy flesh, sautéed with cherry tomatoes, samphire, garlic, and red chilli.
By this point, we were fairly full, but there was no way we could turn down the restaurant's enticing array of desserts.
The New York baked cheesecake and s'mores sundae were both tempting, but I plumped for one of my favourite desserts of all-time: the classic vanilla crème brûlée.
The vanilla cream was wonderfully light, meaning I didn't feel so stuffed I felt sick by the end of the course, and was perfectly complimented by the crisp sugar surface.
However, I did feel envy at my mom's choice of pudding - the hot valrhona chocolate molten pudding with a peanut butter centre and salted caramel ice cream.
It sounds stunning, and it was indeed stunning. The mouthful I tried made me groan in pleasure, especially the gorgeous chocolate filling.
With impeccable service, stunning cocktails, and beautiful food, we really couldn't have asked for anything more from our dinner. Malmaison Bar & Grill has become one of my favourite restaurants in Birmingham.
Malmaison Bar & Grill, Mailbox Birmingham, Royal Mail Street, Birmingham, B1 1RD
0121 632 1000