Posted in Random Utterings

Malmaison, Glasgow

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A few years ago, at a loose end around new year, Lee and I booked into the Malmaison in Glasgow for a treat. We had stayed at the one in Leeds before and it was quite swish and thought as a bit of a luxury night in, we’d book in, eat in the restaurant, relax and just have a fun evening.

Cutting a long story short, it was nothing short of awful. The room was shabby and rundown, and not at all like the one we had experienced in Leeds. The food in the restaurant was terrible – I had a steak so covered in pepper that it was impossible to eat. The staff were all grumpy and rushed, I imagine they had drawn the short straw to work at new year. The room was so noisy that by 8am the next morning, we were checking out and going home for a kip.

Flash forwards to a few months ago, when Briony, head Yelp-er in Glasgow and all-round good egg, was talking about the newly-overhauled Malmaison on Twitter. I let her know about my experience and lo and behold, if the new manager at the Glasgow Mal wasn’t earwigging and asked me to get in touch. So I did, and he asked us to come back on the house and let them show us a good time. Who was I to disagree? So off we toddled last Friday to take up the offer.

>I should point out that they did this without asking me to write a review anywhere, it was pretty much no-strings. I don’t know if they had briefed everyone to be extra-nice to us, but the level of service we received throughout the whole stay was really second to none. Everyone was super-nice and friendly, helpful and welcoming. Already winning over last time!

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We were booked into a Club Room, which we learned had recently been renovated. I loved the decor and it was really nice and spacious.

IMG_3726The facilities were really good within the room – hairdryer, ironing board and iron, mini bar (which wasn’t too extortionate to actually use!), coffee machine, tea, TV, robes, slippers…really nice little touches that made it feel like a special deal.

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Bonus view of the old Strathclyde Police HQ where I used to work when Lee and I first met – awww.

The bathroom was really nice, too – a massive shower cubicle with a fancy shower head and good water pressure. I’m so fussy about showers, so this was a big thumbs-up from me.

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Another nice touch to welcome us was a card from the management team, enclosing some free cocktail vouchers – I’m not sure if everyone gets that, but it was really appreciated!

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The mojito was really delicious. The bar staff were really friendly and you could tell that they took their cocktails seriously. The bar was quite busy for a Friday evening, so it’s obviously a hit with the office workers around there.

And so, to dinner. I was really very impressed. The restaurant has been taken over by fancy-pants Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart and is called The Honours. Look at his twinkly wee face. He’s a clever clogs.

Again, our dinner was on the house, with us only paying for a very reasonably priced and delicious bottle of vintage Viognier (£18). It was really very refreshing and kept us going whilst we perused this fine menu and nibbled on some homemade bread and butter.

IMG_3740The room itself is much improved from the old dark and imposing room – it’s now light, airy and welcoming, no mean feat in a room with no windows. The table settings are simple but I liked that, as it wasn’t too pretentious, and was unfussy. We were sat at a large horseshoe-shaped booth which was very comfortable and felt private but with still a nice aspect on everything that was going on.

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Our waiter, Robert (I think), was just fantastic – he was extremely knowledgable, friendly and really wanted to make our meal special. We asked him for his recommendations and rather than rhyme off specials, he took the time to explain why he liked the things he suggested, and was just really friendly, but professional throughout.

Lee opted for the scallops with Belotta ham to start, whilst I went for the Honours salad, as I love Comte cheese. I don’t eat seafood at all, but tried the scallops which were really surprisingly delicious – so sweet! The salad was very tasty – I did not have the egg or foie gras with it and found it a perfect portion.
IMG_3742 IMG_3744For mains, we opted for the acorn-fed Iberico pork and the Glenarm shorthorn himalyan salt ribeye. I was initially kind of wary about the ribeye as I have a real bugbear about water bath cooking! But I am so glad I had it as it was literally one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It melted in the mouth like butter, truly a divine dish.

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The pork was also extremely flavourful, and the accompaniments we had in the buttered spinach and fries were perfect. The only slight let down was the glazed carrots – it doesn’t say on the menu that they are glazed with orange juice – I felt that they were a bit too heavy on the orange and they ended up tasting like canned peaches. That’s the only downside I could find! (Apologies for the terrible photos, we were too eager to get stuck in!)

IMG_3747 IMG_3749For dessert (and let’s face it, who doesn’t have room for dessert?!), we had the chocolate mint souffle and the chocolate parfait. The pear sorbet with the latter was a real hit. Both desserts were again, faultless, and a real high note to end the meal on.

Whilst this was gifted to us by the manager of the hotel, I felt perfectly happy to pay the service charge (and a bit more on top) as the service was really exceptional. The whole experience was truly special and memorable and we would not hesitate to return as paying guests. Neither the restaurant or the hotel asked me to write this review, so this is really my true opinion and I really did love it!

We had a few drinks in the bar after dinner which was quieter and a nice vibe. I really like the industrial decor in there.

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Sleep-wise, the bed was really comfortable, but the pillows were a little bit meagre – the ones in the Premier Inn are better, which is a shocking revelation! I am fairly sure if I had asked at reception they could have offered replacements,but I was so tired that I just wanted to sink into bed. The one downside to the Malmaison is the noise from the street outside – it’s still noisy. Some wiseacre in a souped-up Micra was driving round and round the block for what felt like hours which stopped me dropping off. I always carry ear plugs when I travel though, so popped those in and was asleep in no time. I am a bit of a light sleeper though, this didn’t bother Lee in the slightest.

Next morning, we were up fairly early as I had to go to work, but we still had time for a delicious, hearty breakfast (which I seem to have lost the photo of). Suffice to say, there was a plentiful supply of pastries, cereals, juices and a nice selection of cooked items. We both opted for the full Malmaison breakfast extravaganza and the ingredients were top quality and delicious.

Even our check-out process was quick, smooth and very friendly – the lady on reception was so pleased that we were converts to loving Malmaison again!

All in all, I would recommend that if you have a special occasion coming up, say, your 35th birthday next month (ahem), then dinner at The Honours at Malmaison would be a perfect celebration! And would I stay there again? Absolutely – I would definitely be happy to pay for it, too! I really did enjoy it a lot.

Disclosure: We were guests of Malmaison on this stay. They did not ask me to write this review though, so suck it up, guys.

Posted in Max

A Well Fed Dog Is A Happy Dog

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Recently, I had a delightful email from Pet Supermarket asking me if Max fancied trying out some of their wares and reporting back here, on the blog. I’ve never been asked to review a product on my personal blog before, so I was slightly aggrieved that Max was asked before I was, but we discussed it and I agreed to write about it for him if he did the taste testing, in return for extra puppy cuddles. I think everyone won out on that deal.

It’s been unseasonably hot here in my part of Scotland. It’s July, so that usually means a slightly warmer rain than usual, but it’s been TROPICAL. We’ve all been panting a bit in the heat, but poor Max has a fur coat on 24/7 and has been struggling. We’ve been keeping him cool with shorter walks in the mornings/evenings and his days in the paddling pool, or lying on the cool floor in front of a fan. But he certainly perked up when this box of goodies arrived the other day for him to try out.

We’ve not tried everything out yet, but I can safely say that the spotty bandana gave us all a bit of a giggle…

 

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Excuse me, Babushka, have you seen Max…? We’ll report back once he’s had a chance to try everything, but so far, the Bakers All Sorts treats are going down well. Rather too well – I’ve had to hide the packet!

Posted in Living, Travel

Chao Phraya

 

 

 

Tonight, Marceline and I went to the new (to us) Thai restaurant on Buchanan Street, Chao Phraya. We’ve been meaning to go for weeks but finally got round to it.

I’m no restaurant critic (though I love writing a snarky review on Tripadvisor about a terrible experience as much as the next person), but it was pretty good. The building is incredible and my first thought as I walked in was “I wish I wasn’t carrying a Tesco carrier bag…”. There is a small army of staff on hand to get you in and upstairs to the main dining room, though it’s a pity many of them preferred to huddle together, chatting, than y’know, actually taking our order.

The food though, was pretty good and authentic, too. I feel qualified to comment on that given my time living in Bangkok. The thing that had me harking back to those days most was the smell – it smelled just like a Thai restaurant in Thailand does – which is quite a vague and abstract thing to quantify, so I won’t try. Trust me, it does.

I had my absolute favourite Thai dish, sweetcorn fritters. These were super-crispy and just right. And a rather generous portion (though at £7.95, I should jolly well think so). My main course of spiced pork belly was also really tasty, though a bit too hot for my liking. I had intended to ask for it without the fresh chillies, but was distracted when ordering as I had a bit of dust in my eye. I went off to the toilets to break out the Optrex just after ordering and realised my mistake. Then I got stuck in a toilet cubible for a few minutes due to some shonky ironmongery on the doors – I was momentarily panicked but managed to get some super-human Hulk strength to help me wrench the door open before Marceline wondered where I was.

My work colleague and fashion blogger extraordinaire, Kirsty, has written all about it having been on a jolly there earlier in the year. It’s pretty swanky but I don’t think I’d hurry back unless it was a special occasion (ie, someone else was paying).

For old time’s sake, here’s some of my photos of the real Chao Phraya:

 

 

 

 

Le sigh. I wish I was there right now!