Living in town, you’re really spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out.
There are cuisines to suit all tastes, but when you’re looking for an eclectic mix featuring dishes from around the world, no one does it better in the west end of Aberdeen than Malmaison.
Arriving late one Friday night, it was instantly clear the restaurant was busy, as the echoes of laughter and chatting filled the transparent walkway leading to the restaurant.
Greeted by a friendly member of staff, we were led through the sea of chairs and tables to the grill bar area.
The restaurant is decorated in a traditionally Scottish manner with an industrial twist. Boasting tartan chairs, painted pictures of Highland cows and other animals lining the stripped-back, rustic brick walls and a variety of industrial and contemporary lighting, Malmaison is a trendy, sophisticated place to dine or grab a drink.
It was graduation week (an oversight on my part) so the restaurant was bustling with activity.
Having bagged the chef’s table – a comfortable stool at the open Josper grill station overlooking the grill kitchen – I was already sure we were in for a treat.
I hadn’t had tuna tartare in a while so when I saw it on the menu, it was a must. My friend followed my seafood lead with the pan-fried scallops.
The restaurant was busy, so we’d anticipated a wait, but more than 30 minutes later, we started to question whether the chefs had possibly decided to go out fishing for the scallops themselves.
Not too long after, having had a quiet word with the waitress, our starters appeared. Well, my friend’s did.
I urged her to tuck in, and my starter followed five minutes later.
The ahi tuna tartare was beautiful. Not only did it look appealing, it was a sensation of flavours, all of which simultaneously hit my taste buds from the first mouthful.
With the creaminess of the smashed avocado, the heat of the wasabi, and a pickled ginger and soy dressing, the dish was simply ravishing.
The raw fish was soft and disintegrated on my tongue, and the seeds that topped it provided a healthy crunch to the dish.
It tasted extremely fresh and was 100% worth the wait we’d had.
My guest’s pan-fried scallops were cooked perfectly and, like my tartare, melted in her mouth. Sat on a red pepper puree, tapenade, samphire and sauce vierge, the olive and lemon sauce paired well with the three uniform scallops.
Both perfectly-sized dishes hit the spot and we were glad to have passed on the prawn cocktail and the buttermilk chicken wings choices – as tasty as they both sounded – because the starters were so pleasing.
Having waited for a while for our starter, I was certain the same oversight wouldn’t happen again.
Sipping on our cocktails the grill chefs were still busy as ever, churning out steak after steak.
It was nice to see the graduates out enjoying time with their friends and family, although it did dawn on me how quickly time passes, as it would have been four years since I had graduated. How time flies.
It was now nearer 9pm by this time and another round of drinks had come and gone. Eventually, more than half-an-hour later, our mains arrived.
Having ordered the Chez Mal salmon fishcake that I’d expressed an interest in, my friend tucked in as I watched on. But my food envy soon evaporated, when I saw my Thai green chicken curry make its way to our spot.
Made with coconut milk, green chilli and coriander, and with large pieces of aubergine and courgette cooked through the dish, too, the green curry was much hotter than anticipated and was a stunning vibrant green colour.
As it had a real spicy kick, I was thankful that it came served with the fluffy jasmine rice.
Not only was the rice well-cooked, it was fragrant too and was scooped up with my side of crunchy Thai crackers, which came with a sweet chilli dip that also boasted a nice heat.
The fishcake was another strong choice. It was topped with spinach, a poached egg and herb velouté, and the savoury sauce finished the stacked dish off perfectly.
The poached egg dripped down the side of the crisp fishcake and the soft spinach complemented the rougher texture of it, too.
Having been offered a cocktail on the house for the wait, we’d been sweetened up enough to order a dessert to share.
Nursing our cocktails, it took little to no time at all for our creme brulee to arrive.
Bubbling at the sides, the dish was roasting. We broke the crisp sugar top with our spoons and tucked in.
It boasted banana slices and chunks of melted chocolate throughout. I sifted through the rich and creamy sweet searching for the milk chocolate while leaving the banana to my friend.
Finishing up just after 10pm, we polished off our drinks and decided to call it a night.
Malmaison is a firm favourite for steak for many and has been for years.
The restaurant is best known for its Josper grill offering, but it was nice to give the other dishes their time to shine – albeit that they really did take their time.
But good things come to those who wait and the dishes were definitely worth the wait.
The cocktail on the house and the attentiveness of the staff did make up for it and, in hindsight, I would have tried to avoid booking during graduation week had I realised.
The food was flawless and the highlight of my meal definitely had to be the tuna tartare starter and the creme brulee dessert.
The addition of milk chocolate within the dessert is just genius in my eyes, and the avocado and wasabi in the tartare dish really did make it stand out.
But it just goes to show that the best seat in the house does come at a price.