Introduction (Chez Mal Malmaison Oxford)
So first of all, sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently. It was my Birthday at the beginning of October and then I was away for a couple of weeks out of Oxford, so I took the chance to switch off and not be online too much. But I’m back in Oxford now and excited to get writing restaurant/bar/cafe reviews again, especially with this Chez Mal Malmaison Oxford review.
So when I received an email invite from Malmaison to review their Autumn 2019 menu I was very excited and grabbed the chance. This is definitely one of the more upmarket places that I have had the opportunity to review.
Housed in a former prison, this 4-star hotel and restaurant holds a very unique layout like no other place I have been to. Starting with the outside, it looks like a castle, just look at the front entrance below.
The restaurant actually has its own entrance to the side of the building, lit up with this elegant purple lit up doorway tucked into the corner in the picture below.
Really love this building. I know I’m going on about it a bit but there aren’t many places in the UK that you can have a meal in a former prison!
The menu is displayed outside too in case you’d like to have a look before popping in. For reference if you want to check this out it can be found near to the Pizza Express, you won’t miss this bit at night as you will be able to spot the purple lighting.
In terms of inside the restaurant, I was equally as impressed with the layout and design. They’ve kept much of the structure the same, so for example parts of the restaurant (the kitchen, for example) would have been old prison cells.
When you think that an old prison would be a dark and dingy place, they’ve done well to keep it nice and bright in the restaurant considering it is also below ground level.
Food and Drink
So now onto the food. As I mentioned I was invited to try out their autumn menu which I’ve pictured below. I was informed that they have a set menu for each season of the year which is quite nice. They also mix up their A La Carte menu twice a year so you are always guaranteed to find something new when you return for a meal here.
I was very glad to see they had Heineken on tap here.
As a pre dinner snack we were recommended to try the “Sharing board” which consisted of Fried Gherkins and some other fried veggies, some of the best onion rings I’ve ever eaten and some chargrilled flatbreads which tasted incredible, you could tell they had been properly grilled as they had that charred flavour.
For starters, we both had the Chez Mal buffalo chicken wings which came in their own homemade hot sauce and blue cheese dip and celery on the side.
I was really impressed by these chicken wings. For somewhere that is in quite a posh setting at Chez Mal Malmaison Oxford, I was not expecting to see these on the menu. The wings were very tender and the hot sauce was just right, not too spicy that you needed to drink the accompanying blue cheese dip, but spicey enough to make you want a drink with your meal.
My other half had the Roast Cumbrian Chicken breast which came with wild mushrooms, young leeks and truffle gnocchi. I always think you can tell the difference between a cheap bit of chicken and good quality chicken. Needless to say, the chicken you see below was so tender and just fell apart.
Also, I have only tried gnocchi once or twice before, but I loved the twist Chez Mal had added here by putting truffle inside the gnocchi. Full of flavour.
For my main course, I went for the Steak Frites which included a 250g marinated full-face rump steak, confit tomatoes, green salad and Pommes Frites.
I asked to have this pink and was not disappointed. The steak was very tasty and similar to the flatbread we had earlier it was just full of that charred grill flavour which is what you want with a decent steak.
To finish off, for dessert I went for the poached pear, raspberry and almond frangipane tart. To me, this looked so aesthetically pleasing. A perfect portion packed with sweet flavours and the cream and raspberries on the side to mop everything up with.
My other half went for the crème brûlée which admittedly is not on the autumn menu but it is just a personal favourite of hers so this would have been extra. I tried a bit of this and it was excellent with a perfectly crisp top layer as you would expect from a good crème brûlée.
Conclusions and final thoughts
So to conclude, we were invited to try the Autumn 2019 menu at Chez Mal in Malmaison Oxford and were thoroughly impressed. I always thought that Malmaison may be a little expensive for a meal out but it is more reasonable than you may think.
For example, if you go for their set seasonal menu you can have a two-course meal for two people for just under £40 (without drinks).
It was also great to see a really nice variety of food on the menu, I don’t think you would struggle. If you are vegan or vegetarian, they also have a specific vegan menu which they offered to us on arrival. I think it would be difficult to not find something you like on that menu either.
In summary, I would highly recommend going to try out the Autumn menu at Malmaison which I believe will soon be refreshed into a Winter 2019 menu and I’m sure it will be just as good if not better with some Christmassy additions to the menu.