Last week, we were invited to Chez Mal at Mal Maison, Liverpool, to try some dishes from their new menu.
For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the Mal Maison brand, they are a group of hotels who operate across the UK. Unlike your other chains though, each hotel has it’s unique, individual style which sets them apart. Their restaurants follow suit, and you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to take advantage of it.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with Chez Mal’s Aintree inspired cocktail, the ‘Ginger McCain’. A fruity blend mixed with Wray & Nephew rum, Cointreau, Kamm & Sons, Appleton white rum, orange bitters, lime, pineapple, grenadine and ginger beer. For a drink with a lot of booze in, this went down far too easily! What makes it even more special is that the recipe was developed in house.
To get us going, we were given a selection of small plates. I’m a big fan of ordering more than I could possibly eat just to get a bit of everything, so this was right up my street. We started with arancini (fried risotto if, like me, you had no idea what that was) which was topped with parmesan. Amazing.
Shortly after, the scallops were brought out. This was a first-time experience for me. Whenever I’ve tried to order scallops before, they’ve always been sold out, so it was like Christmas came early when these were brought to the table. They were served with black pudding and celeriac pure. For anyone who’s a little apprehensive about trying scallops, I can honestly say, you’ll not be disappointed. They’re fresh, meaty and don’t taste fishy at all. I really recommend these if you get the chance to try them (£13.50).
Next on the starters was the seared rump of beef carpaccio (£10.50). This was another example of fresh ingredients prepared perfectly. Just the right amount so that you’re not stuffed before your main, but that you’re not wanting more once it’s gone.
Our final starter was a good old British favourite, chicken liver parfait (AKA pâté) served with chutney and toasted brioche (£7.50). Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of parfait, but the portion size was great and it seemed to be very popular around the table so don’t take my word for it, take everyone else’s
In a similar style to the starters, the mains just kept coming! First up, which you may have seen on our Instagram page, we were introduced to the mother of all Mal dishes, ‘The Stack’. The Stack (£19.50) is built up of beef burgers, fried chicken, onions rings and chipotle slaw. In all honesty, it was a bit of a monster and I’m embarrassed to say, it took two of us to tackle it, but it was totally worth it. Again, the use of prime ingredients was apparent as the beef was fresh and moist. Often with burgers like this, you’re paying for the size and the wow factor more than anything else, but that wasn’t the case here.
Shortly after we’d made our way through The Stack, we were treated to a braised lamb shank (£17.50) served with root vegetables and a side truffle and parmesan fries. This was probably the highlight dish for me as I’m a big lover of lamb and if it’s not done right, it can be a bit of a nightmare dish. Thankfully, as to be expected, it was wonderful! The meat fell from the bone, it was soft and succulent and the flavours were incredible – the tempranillo wine really came through in the sauce.
Last up, we were treated to a selection of steaks (we really were spoiled!). Chez Mal pride itself on its selection of meat and are more than willing to talk you through your choices. They serve rump, fillet and ribeye amongst many others so you can be sure that no matter what your preference is, there’ll be an option for you.
The steak was cooked medium which was perfect for me as I’m not a fan of blood on my plate. It was rich in flavour without being covered in any sauces or marinades. Once again, a reflection of the quality ingredients used in the dishes at Chez Mal.
As you can imagine, we were all feeling pretty content towards the end of the evening. To make sure we were well and truly stuffed, we were treated to an afternoon tea style selection of deserts. This included carrot cake, chocolate brownies, eclairs, chocolate mousse, treacle tarts and milkshakes.In my opinion, it was a pretty perfect choice of cakes and the fact that it was share size and I could have a bit of everything, it made it even more enjoyable. If you’re a little classier than me and cheese & chutney is more your thing, then this is an option as well. Chez Mal offer a section of artisan cheese with chutney and crackers (£6.50).
It’s fair to say that the meal at Chez Mal really did over exceed my expectations. The atmosphere in the restaurant was very relaxed, the service was excellent (nothing was too much trouble), the staff were welcoming and friendly and the food was exceptional. Don’t let the fact that it’s a hotel restaurant put you off visiting Chez Mal at the Mal Maison. You won’t be disappointed and I’m sure once you’ve visited once, you’ll be thinking of your next reason to go (Bottomless Sunday Brunch, maybe?).