Malina restaurant, Brook Green
Jane Harrison eats at Malina, 166 Shepherds Bush Road, Hammersmith, W6 7PB. 020 7603 8881.
I HAD high hopes for the quaint looking Malina restaurant, which opened just over a year ago, but sadly I was disappointed.
The restaurant is run by two partners Beata Murphy and Jola Pinchard, who spent over 15 years managing London’s oldest Polish restaurant, Daquise, in South Kensington, and maybe their new venture, which opened last January, just needs more time.
The interior is as pretty as the exterior, with delightful raspberries stencilled on the walls. It didn't seem very Polish, so of course we had to ask - well Michael is now my front man, so he did - and Malina means raspberry in Polish. It helps create a very warm and cosy atmosphere, as do its owners, but on this night it was let down by the food.
I should say the other diners, some of whom obviously knew the pair, seemed very happy but apart from an exceptional apple dessert (more later) it was just OK.
We were given some home-made bread to start, which was delicious, with bacon spread, which was fatty and left a nasty taste in the mouth.
Michael and I shared pierogi, dumplings, (£5.50 for five and £8.50 for ten) and they kindly agreed to split the fillings as they weren't "too busy". The stuffing of meat, curd cheese and spinach, was very tasty and well-seasoned, but some of the pierogi were hard and all were luke-warm. We weren't really in the mood to send them back and I'm often a bit worried about re-heating something again, but I'm sure they would have obliged had we asked.
My main was golabki, cabbage stuffed with meat in a tomato sauce with mashed potato, (£8.90). It was just OK, the meat was a bit dense and while I'd never normally want more cabbage, was not balanced out with enough of the vegetable. The sauce, which looked like tomato soup, was pleasant enough, but nothing to write home about.
Michael had the veal schnitzel (£14.50) with a fried egg, roast potatoes and an unusual pickled cucumber and red onion salad. He said it was nicely cooked, if a little greasy, but the salad was a great accompaniment. I tried it and it had a lovely combination of flavours and the crunch complemented the meat. Actually his looked much better than mine so maybe more care needs to be taken with presentation.
Top marks must go to the szarlotka (£4.90) the most superlative apple cake I have ever tasted, not only light and fluffy, but with a delicately crunchy topping that melted in the mouth. The complementary raspberry vodka was also a delight but I was the designated driver so was only allowed a couple of sips.
Judging from the comments from other tables and the fact that is has a Time Out award I think we may have just been unlucky or chosen badly because Malina was quite full for a new restaurant, although the owner said it was taking a while to pick up.
I would try it again, maybe in another few months, as the Hunter's stew looked good and that apple cake got us both steamed up.