Liam Rudden: Welcome to the Leith Riviera, Mal Maison style

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FOR some reason I wasn’t expecting the fried eggs. Don’t know why, after all, the menu clearly stated that the Frying Pan Huevos Rancheros contained pancetta, black pudding, peas, spicy tomato sauce and eggs. And yes, they were all served in a dinky-little frying pan, the eggs, baked on top of the other ingredients creating a colourful sight.

It’s been a while since I last penned a restaurant review - there’s a limit to the number of ‘trademark’ steak, chicken, duck and fish dishes one man can eat, and only so much weight one can carry before the role of restaurant critic looses its appeal.

Tempting me back to the table this week, however, was Mal Maison’s new Sunday brunch - Mal On Sunday, a three-course deal served between noon and 4pm, at £19.95 a head.

It’s good value for money, not least because the whole affair begins with an unlimited selection of starters from the chef’s table, which features an array of artisan cheeses, smoked salmon and its very own chef, there to prepare omelettes, eggs, pancakes and waffles just the way you like them.

For me, the crusty bread, fresh smoked salmon and light garlic mayonnaise was the ideal way to begin and when my main course arrived, I realised it was just as well I’d declined a return visit to the chef.

The combination of textures and flavours cooked together proved not just tasty but surprisingly filling. Other mains on offer include corned beef hash and fried duck egg; grilled swordfish with roasted Provençale vegetables; wild mushroom risotto, tarragon and mascarpone; pumpkin ravioli, sage & pine nut butter and the more traditional roasts, beef or chicken, both with all the trimmings. Something for everyone.

There’s a retro feel to the desert selection, crepe Suzette and creme brulee featuring - the former being my indulgent end to the meal.

Of course, ambience is important too as is service. Mal Maison feels like a home from home. Chatty and informal, it’s perfect for a summer Sunday on the Shore. Relaxed.

You know, I can see why they would call it the Leith Riviera.