I enjoy eating out any time of year, but for some reason my favourite has to be when the autumn and winter menus begin in restaurants. There are so many earthy flavours and it’s the start of the warming comfort food that gets us through the coldest, darkest months of the year.
So, of course I was delighted to try some dishes from the Malmaison’s autumn menu when I met Angela Vettraino for lunch.
To start, Angela chose the tuna tartare from the main menu. It was a beautiful dish of food, with the tuna accompanied by watermelon, pickled mooli, avocado and wasabi. The vibrant colours of the dish were enhanced by the use of a blue-gray plate, which really helped it shine.
The mix of sweet, savoury and sharp wasabi and pickled mooli worked well together, creating a dish that gave something a wee bit different in every bite.
For my starter, I had the autumn salad, which featured roasted Crown Prince beets, pumpkin, pearl barley, balsamic and horseradish crème fraiche.
I’d never had barley in any way other than in soup, so it was interesting to see it scattered over the dish. The roasted vegetables were perfectly cooked and the horseradish crème fraiche was a fantastic creaminess to match the rest of the earthly root vegetables. I would definitely have this one again (and may need to attempt to recreate it at home!).
For my main course I chose, again from the autumn fixed price menu, the roasted pumpkin tortelloni, which came served on top of pumpkin puree, with toasted chestnuts and a sage and pine nut butter. One word comes to mind as I remember this dish – wow.
What sounds like it should be quite a heavy dish – pasta with pumpkin and butter – was actually light and delicate. The pasta was well cooked and thin, so that it held the roasted pumpkin without becoming rubbery and chewy. The puree was sweet and light, and the butter, while such a simple way to add a ‘sauce’ to the dish, was so yummy and just finished the dish perfectly.
And the best part? There wasn’t too much of it. Pasta dishes always run the risk of being too much, and for lunch you don’t want a giant ball of carbs in your stomach all afternoon.
Angela again went for a fishy option, this time the smoked haddock fishcake, atop which sat some spinach and a poached egg.
The whole dish was adorned with a grain mustard sauce. The fishcake was a substantial size and packed full of smokey haddock and potato, and it paired perfectly with the runny poached egg. The mustard added a kick to the dish and the spinach (not overcooked, so it still held a bit of bite) just finished it off.
I would urge anyone to try the seasonal menu (or the main one, for that matter) at Malmaison. You will get a fantastic tasting and looking plate of food that turns even the most simple ingredients into something breath-taking.