Many of you already know I’m a basketball WAG so I don’t get to hang out much with Sparky on a weekend as he’s usually travelling the country for games, however last weekend marked the end of the basketball season and a rare break in the training schedule, meaning that this weekend we’d have all day Sunday to ourselves & we thought we’d spend it doing something we love; eating.
I’ve been hanging out and taking my meetings at the newly refurbished Malmaison Hotel in Newcastle for a few weeks now and was recommended their Sunday Brunch, it’s a Mal signature and I’d been told that it has to be seen to be believed. So off we set, with high hopes and empty tummies.
*For those of you interested in the fashion, I wore silk joggers by The Row, a striped breton tee by Mon Belle Rebelle, Kurt Geiger shoe boots and my trusty Chanel 2.55 thrown over my shoulder, hair trussed up in a halo braid to prevent me from getting chocolate stuck in it (see, always thinking ahead.)
We arrived at the Malmaison hotel to a warm welcome in the bar area, service was still turning over the breakfast sitting in the brasserie and there was a wedding event setting up so things were a little atypical but not in a bad way. The bar has a friendly informal feel to it, bartenders were practicing “Malchemy” when we arrived and immediately called us over to sample an Old Fashioned (smokey and bitter if you’re interested, just like it should be). We hung out in the bar area sampling various shots, wines and cheeses before being taken to our table in the brasserie for the main event.
The first thing i should tell you is that the Sunday Brunch menu is huge! It includes classic brunch dishes such as Eggs Benedict and Corned Beef Hash, alongside traditional Sunday lunch dishes such as prime rib of Black Angus beef with thyme Yorkshire pudding and vegetables. Brunch starts with guests visiting the Chef’s table to select from unlimited hors d’oeuvres, yes that’s right folks, unlimited, you can make your way up there and help yourself to as much as you like, as often as you like, and that’s all before you’ve even had your main meal. They had Sparky on the hook immediately, he was up at the chef’s table before I had my jacket off piling his plate with smoked salmon, shrimp, minted rice, Serrano ham cut from the bone, salad, seasoned tomatoes and much, much more. The Chef’s table is truly a sight to behold, tucked away in a private dining room it’s like an Aladdin’s cave for the senses.
Staff serving were friendly and happy to give recommendations, and yes, we did end up visiting the table twice. Well, it would be rude not to, right?!
After a brief respite, our trusty waiter, Don, brought us our main course dishes, Prime rib of beef for me and a Mal Burger for Sparky. Now for a little back story, Sparky is a burger lover. But only if it’s good. Remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother where the gang try to track down a burger joint where Marshall claimed to have once eaten the perfect burger? Well Sparky IS Marshall.
The food arrived quickly, you place your order before you visit the Chef’s table so it’s ready when you are (genius) and man it looked good, the beef arrived pink, with a Yorkshire pudding the size of a door stop and a large side of seasoned vegetables, the burger came with its own copper pot of relish and side of “skin on” fries. So far so good…
The food Chez Mal is good. No it’s better than that, it’s great. The beef was fantastic and the vegetables were smooth and creamy, Sparky said afterwards that the burger was definitely top five but it’s more than just the food. The Sunday Brunch is an experience, the staff are friendly and attentive, not overbearing and not unapproachable, the other diners, a mix of hotel residents and walk-ins are vibrant and happy. Everyone marvels at the chef’s table on their first visit, chatting animatedly about how amazing it all looks before diving in to taste what’s on offer, people examine what near diners have ordered and base their order on the presentation, it’s a very social experience and that’s before we’ve even talked about the amazing view of the Newcastle Quayside looking out over Gateshead.
Ok, let’s get on to the important part and the reason for this intricate up do; the dessert. Now i happen to have history with the dessert menu Chez Mal, lets just say we’re familiar. I went for (my personal favourite) a Mal Hot Chocolate, it’s a dessert served in a coffee cup, built up of ice cream, fresh cream and home-made marshmallows and served with a just of hot chocolate sauce, yes, it’s every bit as awesome as it sounds. Sparky chose a traditional sticky toffee pudding with hot toffee sauce and whole pecans, he courteously and smugly reminded me of my nut allergy just incase i was under the impression he might share his dessert with me. Hmph.
The verdict? Chez Mal boasts that it hosts “The Biggest Sunday Lunch in Town” and who am I to argue with that, the selection is huge but it’s also really, really good food. The Chef’s table is packed with hors d’oeuvres but none of them are heavy so unlike other “all you can eat” style lunches, you can select “light bites” without worrying that you’ll need to call for help to roll you home. It’s a well thought out social dining experience, and if you get a table in one of the huge arched window you can watch the world go by, the view is just gorgeous (I’m from Newcastle, what did you expect?!). Since the refurbishment the brasserie still has that very polished finish but it’s less dark, it’s open and the natural light from those huge windows seems to enhance everything.
There’s a great choice throughout the menu, it’s not just limited to Sunday lunch, there’s something here to suit every palate and the dessert menu is to die for, there are Chef’s Specials too so depending on when you go, you might just find yourself able to sample something new. It’s a place for lovers of good food and good chat, the staff have time to stop and talk and share anecdotes and although busy, diners aren’t rushed. Sparky’s closing remark was that he hasn’t eaten that well since Christmas (make of that what you will).
So, as far as Sunday brunch goes, I’d say Chez Mal are on to a winner but don’t tell anyone, it’ll be our little secret…..
The Chez Mal Sunday Brunch skinny:
Chez Mal is situated on the first floor of the Malmaison Hotel in Newcastle, tables can be booked online at https://www.malmaison.com/locations/newcastle/brasserie/ or over the phone 0844 6930658
Address: 104 Quayside, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 3DX
The full Chez Mal Sunday Brunch menu (including THAT amazing Mal Hot Chocolate) can be found here: 2015-january-sunday-lunch-menu-web
Sunday brunch is £19.95 per person and £7.95 for children.