Sunday 9 January 2011

Malmaison Hotel & Brasserie, Farringdon - & one of the best burgers in London

Donald Russell 35 day aged entrecote

During a week when snowfall in London brought flights to a painful standstill, our city weekend break at the Malmaison Hotel in Farringdon was a little piece of utterly relaxing bliss. The fact that it houses the largely undiscovered gem that is the Malmaison Brasserie was just another bonus along the way.

I love staying in hotels. I love the fact you can mess the bed up and someone makes it for you while you're off having breakfast. I love the big fluffy towels that I don't have to wash. I love any shower that isn't our crappy shower at home. Our night at Malmaison was just a brief change, but it felt like a rejuvenating holiday - without having to spend the night sleeping at Heathrow under space blankets wondering when we'd get on the next flight out of there.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
The view from our room at Malmaison, overlooking Charterhouse Square

Best of all, the Malmaison Brasserie is just downstairs. The only thing I recalled about the brasserie before going there was that its burger made Young & Foodish's list of top 10 burgers in London (at number 4). Of course we had to have it.

The brasserie's location right by the Smithfield meat market is a clue to head chef, John Woodward's, passion for quality, local sourcing. All beef is sourced from Donald Russell who selects only grass fed, naturally reared beef, which is matured for a minimum of 28 days in Aberdeenshire. Cheeses are sourced from La Cave a Fromage and oysters are from Maldon Oysters. The list goes on.

Salmon & fried baby squid

Boudin noir with crispy poached egg

My seared, marinated salmon is perfectly cooked and moist, with ringlets of tender, fried baby squid and roasted hazelnuts (£7.25). TPG has the rich boudin noir with silky champ and crispy poached egg (£6.95). Both dishes are immensely enjoyable and the quality is clearly there.

The 250 gram entrecote is dry aged on the bone - tender, pink and sweet, it even came with some rich bone marrow on the side, and a smashing bearnaise (£20.95).

The excellent Mal burger

Which brings me to the excellent Mal burger - a 250 gram patty of ground beef with Gruyere, bacon, pickle, tomato and onion on a toasted sesame bun. It comes with homemade fries for £13.95. Lovely, pink and juicy on the inside, crunchy and well caramalised on the outside; it is indeed one of London's best burgers. Terrific stuff.

Creme brulee with a madeleine

Baked white chocolate cheesecake

To finish, a creamy vanilla creme brulee with a spiced madeleine combined 2 of my favourite sweets - both elements were quite lovely on their own, although putting them together doesn't really work as a combination. A very decent baked white chocolate cheese cake was sweet, smooth and dense. (Both desserts are £5.95).

The decor lacks some character. Despite that they've gone for dark tones and subdued lighting to create a slinky, stylish look, the brasserie has not quite shrugged off that feeling of being in the basement of a boutique hotel. But it's ok. And service is of a friendliness and quality to match the food. The private butcher's block room, with its exposed brickwork and long wooden table, would (I imagine) be a great nook for a large dinner party.

The brasserie also offers a set price menu - any 2 courses from the a la carte menu for £21 or any 3 such dishes for £25 (only very few dishes carrying a supplement).


From there, it was just a short toddle upstairs to our spacious room complete with fluffy carpet, chaise longue for reclining with a good book, dressing table (I totally want one), flat screen TV, wifi and a lovely, deep bath. The powerful shower with its big shower head is also great, and the toiletries at Malmaison deserve a special mention - they smell divine. Even better that the packaging requests that you take them home, so we happily obliged. There's also a decent little gym downstairs, which I tried for about 5 minutes and TPG for longer.

Any criticisms? There are no fluffy dressing gowns. This is a not a small thing for me - I love a big, fluffy dressing gown. If I had one, I'd be wearing it right now. And the mini bar is not amazing, but I never use it anyway. These quibbles are all I can think of - I loved the hotel, and the brasserie, and the location is terrific, with the Smithfield meat market, St Johns, Vinoteca and North Road Restaurant all within a few minutes walk. The short break has inspired me to do the whole city break thing more often - a change can be as good as a holiday, without all the travel hassles.

If you feel like some of the same, I recommend the Malmaison hotel, but I also recommend trying the brasserie for the steak and burger in particular, regardless of whether you're stumbling back to a bed upstairs.

Malmaison, 18-21 Charterhouse Square, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 6AH (Tel: 020 7012 3700)

Greedy Diva was a guest of Malmaison, however room rates generally range from £205-£250 per night, with suites from £295-£475.

Malmaison Brasserie on Urbanspoon


  1. This all looks good, especially the burger and the boudin noir w/crispy poached egg. I guess Malmaison in London is sometimes overlooked given its proximity to so many great places including one of my faves, Cafe Du Marche.

    But I think where Malmaison comes into its own is when you're staying in one of their hotels outside of London, where the options for food are generally more limited. Some pals of mine were enthusing about the Donald Russell steaks that they enjoyed at Malmaison in Aberdeen.

  2. omg I recognise that big entrecote! I had that when I went there for lunch. It was so tasty but too huge for me and I packed it in a doggy bag to go home(cheeky I know). Malmaison is in a great location and I think the food in the brasserie is really good.
    What a nice escape.

  3. Mr Noodles - I think I need to work my way around them all...!

    Vintage Macaroon - Yep, the food's great. I didn't have a scrap of steak left on my plate! Oink.

  4. I used to live in the block of flats to the left of Mamaison (if your back is to it) where Poirot was filmed. I loved that view of the square on mornings and sad I never saw it with snow on it! Awesome visit

  5. The burger looks great - must return to try it soon!

  6. Oh my goodness that meal looks amazing! And to think I used to live so close to Malmaison and never visited,Charterhouse Square being one of my favourite places... tsk tsk!

    Love the idea of the crispy poached egg too. How does one make a poached egg even better? Deep fry it! Must try it someday... :)

  7. I'm with you on the fluffy bathrobe front. And the appeal of a city break. Sometimes all you need is a walk, a good meal and a lovely bath. Especially if someone else is going to make your bed for you. Am also book marking that burger :)

  8. Tom Eats - I can't believe you used to live there. What a location.

    Emyr - Enjoy!

    Yeebot - There are so many good places to eat in that neck of the woods, aren't there. Lucky residents of Farringdon.

    Tori - That's it exactly! Must do it more often!

  9. That looks like a fine meal, particularly the boudin noir and crispy poached egg. Yum. Malmaison also own The Fox & Anchor just round the corner, who do some great beers and decent burger. I was impressed when I found that out.

    I love the idea of taking a hotel break in London, no distance to travel, and the chance to experience the city as a tourist. Fantastic.

    Continuing the out-of-London theme, there is a Malmaison in the former prison in Oxford that looks great. If the food is that good, I may well have to try it out next time we visit the in-laws.

  10. Quarter of a kilogram burger!! It looks nice but I'd have to go to the gym for a month to repair the damages.

    £13.95 its kind of expensive for a burger, but I suppose you can't really complain with the quality you're getting.

  11. The Grubworm - I like The Fox and Anchor too. Haven't tried their burger, but had a good, British feast there one night and have heard good things about the pies. Will try that one again too.

    Eating out in Devon - Yep it's definitely in the upper price range for a burger, but it's in the same bracket as the other ones that I think are of a comparable quality at other London restaurants. Can totally understand though why some people would rather spend that on a steak or a dish not so associated with fast food as a burger - but I'm a sucker for a really good burger.

  12. I thought for a second the brasserie and The Fox and Anchor were one and the same. The serving style looks very similar and the burger size definitely consistent. If they are the same kitchen/people they do do very good food. The presentation of fish and chips is wonderful as well. Thanks for blogging about your experience

  13. I am with you on the joys of leaving your bed unmade in a hotel and then coming back to find it all made and crisp. I'm delighted every time it happens.

    The food looks storming. Love the great towering cup of chips. The Fox and Anchor is one of my favourite pubs and I'm looking forward to a similarly nice pile of chips there this weekend.

    Also delighted to have it confirmed by TomEats that Poirot was filmed there. I always suspected it was and now will bore people with that fact every time I go past.

  14. Patrick - Ooh, I must go and try the fish and chips then. Always on the lookout for a good option in that respect. Thanks for the tip.

    Gin and Crumpets - Re the bed, yep. I try it at home all the time, but TPG doesn't take the hint. Seems I must try the Fox and Anchor too.

  15. I don't know what I'm arguing about. I love a good burger. Being from Devon though the most I'll ever have to pay for one is around £6

  16. Eating out in Devon - lucky you!

  17. This place is one of the best to spend my Christmas vacation together with my family and children. Thanks for sharing this!

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