Another top burger place to visit in Edinburgh, the Malmaison has long been on my list to visit. The Mal Brasserie is frequently in the top ten of best burger lists in London so I was keen to see how their branch in Edinburgh matched up against other burgers I've tried here. The price alone, ranging from £15-20 depending on your choice of burger, sets them apart and I had high hopes for a first-rate burger.
Arriving at the Malmaison, I was impressed with the surroundings; the monochrome chequered theme was modern but still luxurious. The Brasserie is more relaxed with brown leather, wooden panelling and exposed brickwork making it cosy and warm. The restaurant was somewhat darkly lit with candles on the table which makes for a romantic atmosphere but, with the nights now fair drawing in, not particularly helpful for food blogging photography. We decided not to let our food go cold trying to get a good shot so please excuse that these are a bit on the underexposed side.
The brasserie menu has a number of local and seasonal choices, including some great seafood selections with a nod to the Malmaison's location near to Newhaven Harbour. There are three options for burgers on the Brasserie menu - the Classic Mal Burger with bacon, gruyere and fries (at £14.95), the Burger Stack with additional foie gras slider and onion rings and a lobster burger with a fresh mango salsa, lime hollandaise and fries (both at £19.95). I couldn't pass up trying the Classic Mal burger.
The burger was presented on a wooden board with a large steak knife, a copper pot of relish and a generous pot of french fries (amusingly marked For Your Fries Only - so hands off people!). My first impressions were that the burger was substantial and looked moist, the toppings were few and I was pleased to note the bun was a shiny brioche. Cutting into the burger with the steak knife showed a beautifully cooked pink burger patty. On first bite, I was even more impressed - with coarsely ground and good quality meat, it made an excellent burger and was all better for the minimal toppings. The melted gruyere added a nicely gooey foil for the burger and the bacon an added saltiness but it was nice to have the flavour of the meat come through. I will also award high points for the spicy relish, which complemented the burger without being overpowering.
I decided to have try one of the seasonal autumn cocktails and had a Mal Berry Candy (£6.50). It was one of the best cocktails I've had, with fresh berries and popping candy creating a deep rich blackberry jam flavour with a twist. I've vowed to come back for a visit to the bar as it was just lovely and I'm looking forward to trying a Spiced Pear Martini and Smoked Apple and Blackberry Bramble on my return.
My dining companion decided to try the lobster burger, a rather decadent burger option, but apparently the lobster choice was made with nostalgic remembrance of visits to the west coast of America, where lobster is included in lots of other 'regular' dishes, such as macaroni cheese to great effect. The verdict? Not quite as enthusiastic as the classic burger. The burger itself was large and had hunks of lobster meat throughout but not quite enough to get through its sweet meaty flavour and it seemed a bit bogged down with filler. The mango salsa was, however, delightful and full of spicy flavour.
After our plates were cleared we were asked by our charming waiter if we wanted to look at the dessert menu. Even though our bellies were starting to groan a little we decided it wouldn't hurt to just have a wee look. The desserts all sounded tempting and we were given a bit of time to debate what to have. The service was helpful as well as perfectly timed; attentive but not intrusive - our water glasses remained topped up and we had an excellent recommendation for pudding - Valrhona chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream (£5.95). This dessert, which has been know to bamboozle Masterchef contestants, was cooked to perfection with chocolate sauce oozing from its baked shell. It was paired perfectly with salted caramel ice cream.
So dining at the Mal Brasserie was a proper experience rather than just a meal. The lobster burger was an interesting alternative but not one that I'd recommend over the classic Mal burger which I'd highly recommend. Is it worth the extra expense? While it's certainly a bit pricier than your average burger, it's definitely a cut above the average burger and is actually on par price-wise with a lot of places on the Shore in Leith. The dessert options were excellent, the service was attentive and the setting was really beautiful. It's a perfect place to visit when you want to spoil yourself or someone else.
The Mal Brasserie
1 Tower Place