To Tower Place in Leith where Malmaison Edinburgh, the very first Mal hotel, brasserie and bar, is looking spruce and elegant after a £1.2 million refurbishment.
When Mal opened, way back in 1994, Leith was not the cosmopolitan, culinary hotspot which it is today. In many ways, the Edinburgh Mal was one of the pioneers that helped the area’s transformation from post-industrial grit to des res neighbourhood.
Mother of all Mals
Some 22 years after it kick started the Malmaison group, the Mother of all Mals has benefited greatly from its recent work. Previously, the bar and brasserie had been all classic Parisian style – dark wood, fin de siècle prints and quite masculine. It was of its time.
The new look is more open, lighter and more contemporary in feel. With its red neon sign, filament bulbs and funky red piping, the bar is particularly up to date. The rooms have also been revived with 52 of the 100 already refurbed and the remainder due to be completed by mid-April.
At a recent evening, we started off with cocktails in the new look bar. The cocktail menu has also been revamped with a selection of classic Martinis, Negronis, sours and Mojitos complimented by a mirror selection of classics which have been given a Mal twist.
For example, the classic Old Fashioned is made with Woodford Reserve, Demerara sugar and barrel-aged bitters while the twisted Old Fashioned makes good use of a smoke gun to add late night flavours to the liquor. On Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays, visitors can test drive the Malchemy classic cocktails at £5 a pop. Another new addition is the range of craft beers such as Sierra Nevada to the beer offer.
Black Angus steaks
In the brasserie, the menu pulls off a balancing trick between the familiar, classic dishes which a hotel must offer alongside more fashionable choices. On the starters this might mean that chicken liver parfait and prawn cocktail are balanced with more modish crab tacos and Thai BBQ chicken lollipops.
Fish fans will find much to explore on the current menu with mussels in a Goan curry, roast Atlantic cod and seared tuna mignon with pak choi, toasted sesame and a chilli and miso dressing among the main course seafood options. Other might prefer the grill section with its Black Angus steaks and the signature Mal burger.
Portions are generous. A starter of ahi tuna tartare was coarse cut and meaty with a square of the rosy tuna sitting on a foundation layer of creamy avocado. A good, hot wasabi was whipped up as a light mousse while black sesame seeds added crunch.
A main course of herb-crusted West Country lamb rack presented as three thick cut slices of lamb, all pink in the middle and slick with their cooking juices. The fat had been rendered crisp and a vibrant mint salsa verde also helped cut the natural fat of the lamb.
A Valrhona chocolate torte was rich, thick and dense. If you love chocolate then there is a lot of it to love.
Another way to experience the new look Mal Edinburgh would be to book in for the Sunday Lunch Unlimited promotion. As well as traditional roasts, guests can graze from the well stocked Chef’s Table and bring their epic brunch to a sticky conclusion with dessert.
Alternatively, the weather looks as though it may be about to turn sunny and Mal’s two outside seating terraces will soon come into their own.
The building which houses Mal Edinburgh was completed in 1883. After its recent facelift, it’s good to see the old girl gliding confidently and elegantly into its fourteenth decade.