Malamay in the Burbury Hotel

31 Jan

Overdue for a date night, we turned to our bucket list of restaurants and chose Malamay, another restaurant to have made the 2012 Canberra Top 20.

We book a table the night before – we ring, leave a message, and they call us back promptly with no trouble.

On Friday night we walk into the entrance to the Burbury Hotel (the new establishment behind Realm – we park underneath Realm) and on inquiry we’re told that the entrance to Malamay is actually back out the hotel’s entrance and to the left. Oops!

It’s very dark in Malamay and we’re seated next to a curtain of thick black, hollow rods – the rods hang freely and move when touched, as I realise when I place my handbag against them! It’s a nice way to segregate guests and create a little privacy between the tables. In fact, I’m surprised with how much space there is in this restaurant, with separate private dining areas, too.

The staff are friendly, but we’re asked for our drink choices before we’re given time to look at the menus. While this is usually appreciated, there’s no mention of the half glasses of wine which could accompany the courses (including a glass from Canberra region winery Helm). A bit bemused, I ask for a Riesling—the only one served by the glass at $12 is a 2012 Nick O’Leary, which is fine—and that’s that. We’re guided through the two set degustation menus – five courses for $68.50 or seven courses for $88 – and our waiter asks us to let her know of any dietary requirements. Each menu has the same amount of food, but there’s obviously more variety with the seven courses, so we opt for that.

The pan seared scallops with tempura enoki arrive quickly and it’s a simply divine opener. The scallops are cooked perfectly, and what I wrote in my notes as ‘mushroom chips’ are delicious, with a hint of salt and vinegar. It’s an impressive and genuinely exciting start.

Scallops with tempura enoki

Scallops with tempura enoki

On serving the second dish, our waiter asks if the first was oily. Not at all! But as we tuck into our next course, we quickly come to the conclusion that this one is. Three chilli relish prawns are served hot with cold handmade soba noodles. It’s tasty and I’d happily eat more but I do feel like I’ve got oil around my lips.

Prawns with soba noodles

Prawns with soba noodles

The white fish is bland and slightly overcooked, and its burnt green chilli sauce with black bean radish crumbs is spicy, but only hints at tastes which would have made the dish. The first real disappointment.

White fish

White fish

On inquiring about the best wine to accompany the rest of the courses, our next waiter politely informs me he’s not 18. Fair enough, but there’s no offer to get someone who can tell me. I go with what I know and choose a Mt Majura red.

The double smoked spatchcock has a crunchy skin but what little meat there is isn’t particularly moist. The pork and prawn tortellini with cumin, paprika and chilli oil is tasty and the most beautifully presented dish.

Spatchcock and fennel salad

Spatchcock and fennel salad

Pork and prawn tortellini - doesn't it look beautiful?

Pork and prawn tortellini – doesn’t it look beautiful?

The sous vide beef cheek with yellow wine and goji berries is a filling dish—the beef is tender and falls apart, and there’s a lot of rice as an accompaniment. Boyfriend finds the beef is fatty, but I think that’s just code for ‘tasty’.

Sous vide beef cheek

Sous vide beef cheek

At this point we’re asked if we want another course, which is included in the price. Again, we’re not entirely sure what’s going on and assume our waiter means dessert, which of course we want! Instead, we’re served a spicy chicken dish (the name I didn’t have the smarts to write down—I can only assume it’s the ‘mouth watering chicken Sichuan style’ from the five course menu) which is huge. It’s tasty, and we happily eat it with more rice, but it was unnecessary—we spend the rest of the meal wondering why we were asked if we wanted it. Had we really seemed that ravenous?

Surprise extra dish - chicken!

Surprise extra dish – chicken!

Dessert is chocolate charcoal, which is every bit as dense and rich as the name suggests. It’s served with a yoghurt cream and pistachio and mandarin crumb. There’s a fair amount of chilli in this dish, and I think if you’re a fan of chilli chocolate it would be heaven. For my heathen tastes, I think the chilli is overpowering at this point in the night, and it would have been better finished with just a hint – or perhaps even sprinkled around the edge so you can mix it in if you like.

Chocolate charcoal

Chocolate charcoal

While the dishes come out speedily at the start, it draws on a little between the latter dishes, but we were still in and out with eight courses in between in just over two hours – a big difference to our experience at other top 20 restaurants like Courgette (four courses in three hours) and Pulp Kitchen (three courses in four hours).

By nature Malamay’s food isn’t presented as well as restaurants like Sage or Courgette, but it’s tasty and varied—each dish was its own talking points—and the restaurant does have a good selection of Canberra wines (once you get a chance to look at the menu). It could do with a little polishing of the service and the menu choices, but that’s hardly enough reason for me to not recommend it.

Date: 7.40pm-9.45pm Friday, 25 January

Attendees: T1 and Boyfriend

Cost: $208 = seven (well, eight) courses at $88pp + two glasses of wine $12 each + one beer $8

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? Malamay is part of the Chairman Group (Chairman and Yip, Lanterne Rooms) – check out the website and the links to the other restaurants here.

Malamay on Urbanspoon


5 Responses to “Malamay in the Burbury Hotel”

  1. Gary Lum January 31, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    The chicken dish is saliva chicken because the pepper causes you to salivate so much. I loved that dish, I want it again. Great review.

  2. whisperinggums March 11, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    Ha ha, Tara, “we walk into the entrance to the Burbury Hotel (the new establishment behind Realm – we park underneath Realm) and on inquiry we’re told that the entrance to Malamay is actually back out the hotel’s entrance and to the left. Oops!” Snap! We did exactly the same when I finally managed to get to Malamay a few weeks ago. Clearly there’s something wrong with their signage. While I could see the restaurant was there on the corner, I think it’s a natural assumption that you could enter from inside the hotel. A poor design there I think.

    Anyhow, we were there for lunch. Friday lunches are a long standing tradition for me since the mid 1990s – with my MIL, then with her and my parents when they moved here, and then with her and my parents and my husband when he retired, and now with my husband and my parents since MIL sadly died! You needed to know all that didn’t you! Anyhow, we just went a la carte – main course, and then two of us had dessert. The food was wonderful, and I loved the decor though my parents found the black a bit difficult with ageing eyes. The service, like yours sounds to have been, was pleasant but a little uncertain in places. Quite different to the confidence we’ve always experienced at the Lanterne Rooms. All in all, though a good experience and one we’ll repeat I’m sure.


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