Now with a deadline to leave the UK I have realised how much I still have not seen of this amazing country. As an adopted Londoner I have to admit I have adopted a decidedly Londoncentric attitude so I decided a trip up North was in order to spend the night in a bus company office. Not just any bus office though, I was invited to stay at the Malmaison hotel in Leeds which is housed in the converted gothic style building. The building is stunning and really quite a landmark in Leeds with a great central location.
It’s hard to believe the Malmaison Leeds was once an administration hub with the plush furnishings and swanky feel to the place. Our room was decked out in navy and plush purple tones with thick curtains which gave a cosy feeling. The bed was absolutely huge with soft white linens and the hotel displayed its sense of humour with toiletries labelled “take me home, we dare you”. I was also impressed with the free wifi (thanks Catty!) and a handy jogging map. These people had thought of everything. The only thing that disappointed was the bathroom which was just starting to look a little bit tired and probably could do with a revamp.
|Our room at the Malmaison Leeds|
There were no such issues at the brasserie downstairs which has a constantly updated and seasonal menu. Housed in a clubby, darkened basement room, the brasserie offers classic dishes with some more adventurous options. The menu was extremely good value for money and that was without even looking at the budget “Three Tenners” option of two course for two people with wine. Let’s just say I should have left London more often during my time in the UK. We drank a bottle of Momessin Fleurie (£36) over the course of our meal which was served slightly chilled as it should be and was very subtle with a lovely floral note.
We started with the juicy grilled tiger prawns (£6.95) which had been painstakingly shelled and were served with a noodle salad and a tangy Asian dressing. Ricotta ravioli (£11.95) had a subtle lemon flavour and was heaped with diced vegetables and peas and then doused with a light broth.
The better option though was the lamb rump (£17.95) which was pink, tender and teamed with puy lentils and crisp shards of salty pancetta. After all the dish had been recommended to us by our waiter Rob. If Malmaison could bottle Rob and sell him they would be onto something big. He was the sort of waiter who congratulated you on your order, along the lines of, “The spring lamb, excellent, excellent choice, one of my favourites”, and was incredibly enthusiastic about his job.
When it came to dessert time he confided “If you order the cheese you will make my night” so what could I do but comply? I think the cheese made my night as well since there was a whole trolley of it which Rob guided me through giving a brief history lesson on some cheeses and holding others up to be smelt. With some cheeses he was adamant that I had to try them while with others I was allowed a little choice. I finished up with a stonking cheese plate (£8.95) featuring amongst others, a runny, ripe Stinking Bishop and a lovely mellow goats cheese traditionally skewered with a stalk of hay.
|My cheese plate|
The next morning Rob wasn’t there but the rest of the staff were almost as brilliant and whipped us up some perfectly “dippy” boiled eggs with soldiers alongside the heavily laden breakfast buffet before we headed out to explore. In true Northern style the weather was grim but we knew at least at the Malmaison it was cosy and glamorous.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Malmaison.
Details: Malmaison, 1 Swinegate, Leeds, United Kingdom LS1 4AG (Ph 0113 398 1000)
Damage: Reasonable. Room rates typically range from £69 to £99 on a Friday night while our meal came to £103 in total including wine.