Sunday, 25 May 2014

Weekend Brunch: Malmaison Hotel

The Malmaison Hotel in Leith claims to have the biggest Sunday lunch in town so, of course, I had to go and sample this for myself.  It's an epic four courses with a chef's table buffet, main course and pudding, and is in a similar style to Hotel du Vin's Sunday brunch (which I've written about before), but is slightly more informal and certainly has more brunch options.  Malmaison's dining room is an impressive room with heavy dark wood and a vaguely nautical theme, being right by the docks of Leith as they are.  On this sunny day it looked very bright and welcoming, and the glass of fizz that greeted us when we were seated definitely helped the friendly atmosphere.  Feeling adventurous, I ordered a Hemingway Martini from the brunch cocktail list (which had six variations on a Bloody Mary!), a mix of grapefruit, vodka and schnapps.  My drink was absolutely delicious and, more importantly, brunch-themed therefore perfectly acceptable as a midday drink.  From the main dishes, you can select a full Scottish or eggs benedict brunch options, or more traditional gastropub meals - a Sunday roast, burger, fish cakes, steak frites.  In an attempt to keep it light, I decided to order the fish of the day, served with potatoes and green beans,  I was thinking tactically, eating a huge burger in between a plate of salad and a pudding would not work well, particularly as they served my favourite dessert of all time - a heavy, but sublime sticky toffee pudding.  

The chef's table was groaning under platters of continental meats, smoked salmon, fresh salads, bread, Serrano ham on the bone and a centrepiece of glistening, cooked ham with crackling. Keeping it brunchy, there is also a chef on hand to cook eggs and omelettes how you like them, and warm pancakes and waffles to order too.  Being of a sweet-toothed nature, I ordered some pancakes to start off with.  These were French crepe style and already made up (freshly I was assured) so you don't have to wait for the batter to cook all the way through, served with orange segments and a vanilla syrup.  They were delicious, but a little bit too much like pudding although luckily, unlike John Shuttleworth, I can switch between sweet and savoury with no problems at all.  Another trip to the chef's table filled my plate with pates, salads and delicious meats and, to be honest, I'd probably have been quite happy going up a third (or fourth) time and not having a main at all.  Everything was fresh and tasty and a really good mix of small eats, but the salmon when it arrived was very good indeed - nicely cooked with a crispy skin and good lemon butter sauce that went nicely with the vegetables too.  And of course, the sticky toffee pudding to finish off was divine although for the hardcore only.  It was a heavy way to finish off quite a large amount of food and, had I been more sensible, I probably would have ordered the lighter pleasures of the clementine parfait or ice cream sundae.  

At £19.95 per person, it's great value for the amount of food you get and can definitely be added to the list of epic brunches in Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Best Burger Quest: Burger, Fountainbridge

Excuse me whilst I blow away the cobwebs and tumbleweeds from this here blog... it has been sorely neglected but it was good to have a bit of a break from writing about food and taking photos of everything that I eat (which is surely what Instagram has now evolved into - mini food blogs for all!).  A recent visit to Burger in Fountainbridge reminded me of the Best Burger quest on the blog, basically an excuse to try lots of different places in Edinburgh and order the burger.  No need for pretence at Burger - it's all in the name.  Their burgers are excellent and well worth writing about. 

Burger has obviously been taking notes from its US contemporaries as the beef burgers are served classic US-style: very juicy meat with minimal fuss filling of tomato, pickle and their own burger sauce on a brioche bun (£3.95).  Classic and delicious.  The chips are also excellent, crisp and not cut too thinly (£1.95).  What really sets Burger apart is the range of their menu.  Along with the standard hamburger/cheese/bacon set up, their other standard burger is a chicken katsu burger which is a great change to the usual chicken breast in a bun deal (£4.95).  It's a panko crusted minced chicken, roast garlic and spring onion burger with katsu sauce and wasabi mayo.  It is perhaps not as crispy crumbed as I expected it to be but it was a big bite of saucy burger goodness.   The veggie burger made from roast chickpeas, beetroot and tempah which makes a nice change from the falafel variety (£4.95).  In addition to their regular menu is a changing weekly specials menu, where Burger staff play around with burger creations to make some truly delicious combinations.  On my visit they had Any Port In A Storm (£6.25), a beef burger with Stilton cheese, port glaze, apple chutney and Mexican Black Bean Burger (£5.95), a veggie burger with black beans, Mexican spices, peppers and chipotle coleslaw.  As exciting as these sounded, I wanted to try the classics first so just ordered a cheeseburger and chicken burger.  They really didn't disappoint and have gone on to join the top league of Edinburgh's best burgers for sure.  I can't wait to visit again and see what else they come up with.  

To finish off, you can have an ice cream rich shake (£2.95)or their own frozen custard ice cream.  I chose one of their special creations this time - Eat Yer Greens & Blues, a green tea ice cream with honeyed pistachios and blueberry sauce. It was divine - super creamy mild flavoured ice cream with a good crunch from the nuts and sweet blueberry sauce, not only that but brilliant value for £1.95.  Standard flavours of vanilla, chocolate and maple walnut all sound like excellent options, particularly with mix-ins of honeycomb, brownie or peanut butter.  

Burger are also child-friendly - I spied a number of high chairs and they have a kids menu too, for adults that don't fancy sharing.  A really nice addition to the Fountainbridge area and for burger lovers in Edinburgh!