So, how’s everyone’s festival going? Entertained? Slightly hung-over, sleep and nutrition deprived? Well, the weekend’s here once more, so the madness is unlikely to abate. I predict that by Sunday you’ll need a serious pick-me-up, and a leisurely brunch or lunch will be in order. Well, I can recommend a step outside of the eye of the storm by way of Malmaison in Leith. My friend Em and I headed down there last Sunday to check out their Mal on Sunday Lunch.
As a Leith resident , afternoons by the shore are a way of life, but for those visiting Edinburgh or even local ‘burghers , this waterside edge of the city is always worth a hop on the no 22 bus for some exploring.
Back to lunch, and when we sat down in the smart but relaxed brasserie, we were presented with the menu which is a great visual gag. The headline ‘Biggest Sunday Lunch in Town’ was emblazoned across the top, a behemoth of a piece of card that takes up precisely one half of the table. If your weary eyes are trying to seek out the words ‘Bloody Mary’, this is ideal.
What lies ahead really is a BIG lunch. You could probably eat enough to keep you going through ‘til Tuesday without trying too hard. Not that this is some sleazy pile-em-high, sell-em-low kind of offering. Far from it, as for £19.95 you’re offered a tour of the Chef’s table, with an enticingly laid out buffet table with soup du jour (I think it was mushroom and spinach), an omelette station, viennoiserie, crusty breads, a selection of charcuterie, smoked fish, cheeses and salads. This is just the starters, folks.
Turns out everything looked quite tempting, in fact, as I returned back to our table with an amply filled plate. Salami, cold ballotine of chicken stuffed with haggis, a couple of chunks of cheese (something old, something blue…!) hot-smoked salmon and a lovely apple and parmesan salad all offered fresh bites. This was a nice way to do an inside summer picnic, nibbling here and there, lots of tasty things to try.
To contrast the healthy-sounding starters, our main courses were a little more low-brow. The ‘mains’ section of the menu offers a nice choice of traditional (roast beef, eggs Benny, steak frites) and more casual. I chose the Mal burger with bacon and gruyere, and Em chose a Southern ‘comfort food’-inspired dish of buttermilk fried chicken, waffles and maple syrup. She chose well, it was an impressively indulgent dish in flavour, if a little aesthetically pedestrian in its colour scheme of beige on beige. I loved the chicken, crispy outside, loads of great seasoning and super succulent in the middle. Add some waffles doused in maple syrup to each bite and we’re talking winner. I know, not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve always liked the whole sweet/savoury thing. My burger was pretty good, the bun a little too cake-y, but good beef and notably lovely bacon. The audibly crisp fries were a bit yummy too, just that perfect crunch.
Desserts? Really? Ah, go on then, for research purposes of course. Emily outdid herself with the ‘Mal hot chocolate’ which was a tea cup full of vanilla ice cream, doused in liquid pouring chocolate and covered in marshmallows. Sweet stuff indeed. I made a stab at a rich sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and pecans, but I have to confess, my belly capacity was beat by this point. Ooft!
What can I say about the Mal Sunday lunch other than if you like good quality food, a relaxed vibe and satisfying your hunger (possibly even your hangover) then you’re going to have a great time here.
Whilst I’m here, a couple of recommendations for Fringe things:
BLAM! The Show at The Pleasance Grand- High-octane physical theatre performance, great laughs and awesome characterisation.
Graham Clark – Assembly Roxy – A properly funny fuzzy-faced Vancouverite stand-up, fresh material and reassuringly lacking that ‘20th year on the fringe’ haunted look of some of the stalwarts.
PS. Five years of food writing and I still question myself when writing the word ‘cheeses’.
We dined as guests of Malmaison, and paid for our drinks. Thanks to Kate at Purple PR for organising the review.