By Jo Cooksey
We get lots of emails every week at Taste Today. Lots and lots. If we are lucky there will be a ‘Come and try our new menu’ email. We like those. Malmaison in Manchester, emailed us with just such an invite. They were launching their Chez Mal Brasserie new bar, prix fixe and a’ la carte menus and as such had arranged a showcase event. Of course, we said yes, it would be rude not to.
Chez Mal Brasserie take their food very seriously and utilize all their passion and skill and of course top class, seasonal ingredients, to give the diner the best experience possible. They offer a choice of menus to satisfy their customers’ needs. There is the Prix Fixe, available until 7pm, with two courses for £19.95 and three courses for £24.95, as well as the a la carte, the afternoon tea and the Sunday brunch and lunch options.
We arrived on the appointed evening and were led through the restaurant, (the décor and atmosphere I love by the way), into a private dining room where we were offered a selection of cocktails and fizz. While we made ourselves comfy and chatted with our fellow bloggers the waiting staff tempted us with a myriad of canapes. There were beautiful Bruschetta with jewel coloured Heritage Tomatoes, hot and crispy Tempura of Calamari & Tiger Prawns and Arincini Balls, which were a little under seasoned and not sticky enough for me. I didn’t realise at first that these were appetisers rather than the starters and tucked in with gusto.
Then the starters arrived. Gulp! Sometimes when you go to a menu tasting the highlights are served canape style and you have to stop off at the chippy on the way home because you’re still hungry. This was obviously not going to be one of those evenings. They included the most beautiful, melt-in-the-mouth seared Carpaccio Rump of Beef, an excellent veggie dish of Buffalo Mozzarella, Roast Squash and Charred Onion, a finger lickin’, juicy Buttermilk Buffalo wings and my fave, Seared Scallops with Bury Black Pudding, Celeriac Purée, and an Apple and Jerez dressing. I should also mention that each course was being matched with wines and beers. Tomorrow would be an interesting day.
At this point, Head Chef, Jimmy Williams, came out with virtually a rib side of beef and gave us an impassioned masterclass on which cuts came from where. Within this side were fillet, Porterhouse, T bone, ribeye, wing and prime rib cuts. Phew! That was a lot of steak. Chez Mal ages their own beef in house for 28 days so that they can sure of the quality. Following the lesson the waiting staff started to bring out platters of the various steaks and it was absolutely heavenly. Even for someone who has regular pangs of guilt over eating meat. All the cuts were seared to perfection on the brasserie’s Josper grill, which gave a perfect smoky edge to the flavour. The fillet just melted in the mouth but I’m a girl who like some fat so for me the ribeye and the rump were the best.
There wasn’t just red meat on offer either, there were also really good chicken tikka masala skewers, that are marinated for 48 hours in the in-house spice mix and then served with pistachio & sultana pilaf rice, grilled coriander flat breads & a raita dip. The vegetarians were also catered for with an excellent mushroom & black truffle macaroni in a Gruyère & Parmesan cheese sauce with a brioche herb crumb. To be honest, despite being thoroughly spoiled in terms of expensive cuts of beef I think this was a lot of peoples’ favourite dish. It was the perfect Autumnal comfort food and I would certainly order it again. In fact, my mouth is watering while I write this.
Oh, my goodness we were full and there was still dessert to conquer. Deep breath, a little loosening of the waistband and off we go. For our delight and delectation there was Crème Brulee, which as most people know is, along with Tiramisu is my fave and I am happy to report the top had a good crack when broken and the custard was creamy and well flavoured with vanilla. The next sweet was the stuff childhood memories are made of, Treacle Tart served with clotted cream. I can’t remember the last time I had a treacle tart and now I’m craving it all the time. I think I shall be baking one this weekend. Finally, there was a Valrhona chocolate pavé served with salted caramel ice cream. Again, those who know me know that despite a very sweet tooth I don’t actually like anything with chocolate, so I passed on this. Although I have to say the salted caramel ice cream was rather marvellous and those that did eat the pavé assured me that it was choccy heaven. Oh, I nearly forgot the gorgeous slates of Le Fromage, a delightful selection of Artisan cheeses with chutney, quince & crackers. If I’d had room, would certainly have got stuck in. Next time.
In summary, virtually everything was cooked to perfection and the presentation was obviously something the team take pride in. Although we were guests of Malmaison the is an honest review and we will definitely be returning the Chez Mal as customers in the near future.