Chez Mal and I go way back. We’ve made afternoon tea anarchy together on more than one occasion which even included a champagne-fuelled festive soiree complete with miniature yule log and snowman-shaped shortbread. We’ve swapped memes on Twitter and I could basically navigate myself to their front door blindfolded by now. For those of you who aren’t so familiar with Chez Mal though, do allow me to elaborate.
Chez Mal is the edible segment of the Liverpool Malmaison hotel. It’s an eatery with its finger on the pulse which combines the elegance of upmarket dining with the urban charm of bare brickwork, exposed metal piping and Beatles-themed abstract art because, well, when in Liverpool and all that. The atmosphere is refined and the vibe is most definitely chill but there’s a vibrancy about the place that means I always find myself sitting there for a lot longer than I had planned to.
One of the most notable boons about the Chez Mal restaurant is that it is clearly separated from the bar area. You might remember from my experience at The Shankly Hotel Bastion Restaurant that the mergence of lively bar and fine-dining restaurant didn’t quite work for me – flashback to a fancy dress Wonder Woman pulling lycra shorts out of her derriere as I was served my Curried Parsnip & Paneer Pancakes – so it was nice to see some divide here.
Not that the bar was bouncing at 2pm on a Thursday afternoon but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how lively Liverpool can get Friday through Sunday so it’s good to know you can dine in peace should you visit the city for a weekend dedicated to R&R.
After making ourselves at home at our table for two by the window and marvelling the photography and design of the beautiful new Malmaison summer menu, we picked out our selections from the list: Fougasse with Black Aioli (£5.50) from the Nibbles to start and two rounds of the Sticky BBQ Pork Ribs (£15.50) for mains. Safe orders made in synchrony but when a craving for hearty comfort food comes calling, I ain’t about to ignore it.
The Fougasse (French garlic bread for those who are wondering) came served steaming hot and slathered in melted garlic butter but my favourite part was the little dish of black aioli dip that came alongside. So delicious, in fact, that I had to ask the kitchen for their secret recipe and they were kind enough to share it with me. Created using black garlic, the dip is rich in flavour with subtle undertones of truffle-like flavours and the perfect dunker for dunking.
Our ribs were plentiful, perfectly tender and absolutely smothered in a sticky sauce which had sweetness and heat in equal measures. I think the graveyard of bones and stained lips that were left when our plates were taken away were a testament to how much we enjoyed them. They came served with a ramekin of roasted sweet potato chunks and a spicy aioli which I would happily eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the rest of my life.
The ribs are also accompanied by a small bowl of Mediterranean vegetables which neither of us actually ate but I imagine if Med veg is your thang, the garnish might have been more appealing served roasted, or at least warm. Our finger bowl of warm water and lemon was a nice touch though and saved my new dress from any potential BBQ sauce disasters.
When it came down to the deliberation between desserts, we finally settled on a bowl of ice cream (£2 per scoop) and a classic Sticky Toffee Pudding (£6.50). I like to think of myself as a bit of a sticky toffee pudding connoisseur by now, with Grill on New York Street‘s interpretation my reigning champion. When I sunk my spoon into Chez Mal’s adaptation, I was intrigued to find that it tasted almost like a piece of warm, moist wholewheat toast with a notable savoury aftertaste. It was absolutely delicious and went down a treat with a scoop of my mum’s Black Coconut Ice Cream.
I was actually very kindly invited to review Chez Mal so our pick of the seasonal dishes were limited to the Prix Fixe offer which is available Monday to Thursday daily and Friday & Saturday ’til 7pm. You can get two courses for the very reasonable price of £19.95 or three courses for £24.95 and in such beautiful surroundings with great food and fabulous staff, I’d say you’d be bagging yourself a bit of a bargain.
Had we not been eating from the specific Prix Fixe list, there were a number of other seasonal dishes that I most definitely had my eye on. Thai Green Chicken Curry (£16), Soy Glazed Salmon (£15.50) and the Bacon & Gruyere Burger (£16.50) just to name a few.
We decided to keep this one a sober affair as my mum was designated driver and there were Gusto cocktails on the horizon the following day so I can’t really comment on the beverages. I mean, our waitress brought over two glasses to give us the choice of lime or no lime for our soft drinks and I couldn’t fault my English Breakfast but I’m guessing you lot would be more interested in the hard stuff.
Leave it with me and I’ll make a return trip to the Liverpool Malmaison bar and sample a few cocktails just for you. A complete and utter altruistic act that I will be doing purely for your benefit and your benefit only… Yeah, right – hand this gal a Black Forest Martini will ya!
I was very kindly invited to review the summer menu at Malmaison Liverpool but all words, photographs, opinions, teeth, hair, boobs and nails are my very own.