Thursday, July 23, 2009

Aberdeen Malmaison - good food, horrible decor

Met friends last night for dinner at the (relatively) new Malmaison in Aberdeen. It's the old Queen's Hotel, or rather the granite facade of the old Queen's. Inside, though, it appears that the interior designer concerned has been subject to hallucinations of the most debilitating kind. I have been in hotels from LA to Wick and Le Byblos to La Mirage (Helmsdale's finest establishment). I have never seen anything quite so eye-poppingly, tartan-tattily awful as the inside of the Aberdeen Mal.

Public areas, of course. Though you can stay there for £80 a night at the weekends, neither I nor the Beeb can afford its typically Aberdonian, utterly monstrous midweek rates. In truth the bar's OK, if you like acid-trip Brigadoon style, though the spotlit, dead bagpipes in reception are somehow... evil.

The brasserie, though: A horrendous clash of styles between raw industrial Blade Runner pipework, kitsch animal pictures and gigantic hielan' coo blow-ups, matched with a see-through floor at the entrance (private tasting room downstairs; God help you if you're wearing a kilt) and a glass wall to the meat storage room, in which raw carcases loom like a veggie nightmare or Rembrandt at his coarsest. A nod to Damian Hirst, perhaps, but without DH's phenomenal grasp of integration.

Apart from that, and some carelessly snobby, over-vicious service (we paid for that bread, LEAVE IT ON THE TABLE) and a sommelier who INSISTED on filling our glasses, until he was forcibly stopped, the food bit was really good. Great butternut squash soup, and loads of it. Fine bread, an exceptional shin of beef, and a good serving of cheese. Could have done without an extra £2.95 for each portion of veg, but the table d' hote is good value.

My seat was too low, The 10 per cent service charge is an imposition and the music was bad and way too loud. Apart from that, I think a good time was had by all. But as for the decor. Rip it out and start again. Or have a look at the Leith and Glasgow Mals and, uh, have a wee rethink.