Malmaison - Leeds is when you expect nothing but the best, think of The Malmaison group of hotels, a collection of centres of excellence, that has firmly established itself throughout Britain. As a concept alone this is exciting, but the reality is brilliant, so that at last there is a hotel group where uniformity of standards is of the same high calibre.
Malmaison also have a happy penchant for selecting buildings of character for their hotels and restaurants, in this particular case a former bus company office that stands majestically on a corner site in Leeds. As their publicity says 'head to the bar in the back, a low lit den of fine wine and devilishly divine dining' - couldn't have been put better than that.
The bedrooms are all that one would expect from a hotel that has genuine regard for its guests and is concerned with every aspect of their wellbeing. Rich, warm tones of aubergine and plum with taupe help build a seductive and lavish atmosphere.
Amidst elegant surroundings, with an impressive vaulted ceiling, leather booths and a contemporary open-through glass fireplace and of course the spotless gleaming glassware and shining cutlery, an essentially brasserie menu is offered. Lovers of seafood will be delighted to note that their particular needs are well heeded, starting with a delightful home hot smoking salmon.
Head Chef James Key and his team using delectable local ingredients create brasserie dishes such as goats' cheese ravioli with pepper and spring onion salad that never fails to please the crowd. Other starters include a guinea fowl terrine with Scottish langoustine and roasted foie gras and oxtail hash brown served with poached egg and mustard sauce.
An inspired choice amongst the main courses is the fillet of sole with saffron fondant and parsnip purée, while the beef bourguignon is just perfect for those seeking by this time a slightly more carnivorous approach. Which leads us neatly to the, wait for it - Mal burger - a 250 gram burger made from ground beef tucked into a floured bap to join bacon and gruyere, served with homemade relish and some fries.
Over the years the number of outriders surrounding a good honest steak on the plate has grown to unacceptable dimensions. At Malmaison the thought and care is centred on the dry-aged on the bone Scottish rump and that's it - except for the chips. If you want all the rest go for the side dishes, but steak and chips on its own takes some beating. Vegetarians are well looked after - the stuffed palm hearts served with bean sprout and pak choi broth, and macaroni cheese with cep mushrooms sound appealing.
Heading the puddings is the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, a triumph of timing and co-ordination, supported by other choices amongst which expect to find a chocolate and blood orange tart and lemon and thyme crème brûlée. Their homemade ice creams and sorbets are dreamy while their renowned cheese trolley has a selection of British and French farmhouse cheeses served with an assortment of breads, biscuits, walnut and chutney.
The wine list is a symphony of its kind, clearly compiled by an enthusiast who knows his wines well enough not to disappear into a world of hyperbole when describing them.
is a wealth of information that will, I predict, only serve to increase your resolve to make Malmaison your next stop in Leeds. It is worth noting that you can also make reservations Online on their Website.