There’s something a bit odd about staying in a hotel in your own city. It’s also quite pimpy, so the best thing to do when given the opportunity, as I recently was to the London Malmaison, is take someone you fancy the pants off (rather than your mum), raid the mini-bar, drink too many cocktails and really good wine at dinner then spend most of the night dancing ’til you pass out in bed to the dulcet tones of One Direction on the randomly picked turn-down service TV station.
Malmaison London’s minibar seems prepped for the arrival of a bunch of teens on Spring Break. Downstairs, there’s an ultra-posh, quite sexy Veuve Cliquot bar, but behind the tiny minibar door in our room there is little more than ready-mixed “bacardi & cokes”, peanuts and bizarrely, a box of “energy patches” which we immediately put on for the hell of it. The room was small but comfortable with a nice big shower – we likey – and fantastic smelling bath products, including massage oil. Good thinking Malmaison. The location is fantastic, minutes from trendy Smithfield bars, and the epic Fabric.
We both hit the Champagne cocktails before dinner, at the dark, indigo-tinged bar where we were served delicious, plump and juicy olives. My Classic Champagne cocktail went down a storm, M. opted for big fruity girly thingymajig as we got our teeth into the menu.
I was there for a game-fest – I haven’t yet had my fill since the Glorious 12th and spotted pheasant,mallard and venison à la carte. I started with rich and creamy oxtail served on a bed of smooth mashed potato. All fine except that the ox appeared to have the smallest tail in the world compared to it being served with arguable the world’s largest potato. A reversal in the proportions would have been exquisite as the oxtail was full of flavour. The dish also came with unnecessary croquettes, making me feel full before I’d even reached my main course. M. had foie gras parfait, which was pleasant and of good texture if not overwhelming on the flavour front.
Mains saw me staring down a big hunk of mallard, pungeant and well seasoned, if a little dry which does happen with mallard, overall however, quite tasty. M. however suffered from sorry steak syndrome. The 28-day aged fillet which he ordered rare came to the table looking like a flattened, grey French roadside-diner steak broiled to oblivion and served with flaccid chips and a lumpy béarnaise. As two avowed steak fans we were sorely disappointed.
We alleviated our disappointment with a vibrant and spicy, chocolate tinged Quinta do Vallado from the Douro and were about to order more when we suddenly noticed the incredible Bowmore whisky flight on the dessert menu. Genius, genius Malmaison for offering this, an excuse for me to pontificate on aromas, noses, finishes and palates largely of my own invention as I sniff and snort through whisky mists…
Our tasting notes include such gems as “Nose: toffee, orange peel, almonds, white grape” for the 12 year with an aftertaste of nail polish and tobacco… The 18 year prompted comments along the lines of “popcorn, caramel, toasted peanuts and like eating a liquid dessert”. The 15 year old Bowmore apparently reminded me of Ovaltine… Speaking of dessert, my concoction of caramelised figs with ice cream was a treat, ending our meal on a (whisky-induced) high.
So, a bit like the curate’s egg – London Mal was good in parts and a nice cosy corner to chill out in in one of my favourite parts of London, however, if the food could rival the beverage offerings I’d be back more often…
18-21 Charterhouse Square
London EC1M 6AH