The Malago is lucky enough to commandeer a corner of North Street that, in summer, is bathed in sunlight throughout the day and into the evening. As a result, when it comes to enjoying a weekend coffee and a freshly baked pastry in the balmy rays, or an afternoon glass of wine with friends, it’s particularly hard to beat.
The Malago is wonderfully laid back – the open kitchen serves exquisite food while the restaurant remains thoroughly unpretentious. Stepping through the front door reveals rustic wooden furnishings, fresh meadow ﬂowers displayed in vintage milk bottles, and ﬂickering candles on each table. It feels like a home-from-home, where you can linger and relax.
I’m not usually one to usually start with a soup, but I was assured that this was a fresh, summery broth worth a try, and I’m certainly glad I did. Delicate, crunchy vegetables kept each mouthful interesting and proved a light, refreshing way to tempt my tastebuds for the main event. My dining partner settled on pigeon breast atop a bed of trufﬂe risotto and watercress, and was beautifully ﬁnished with bright violet borage ﬂowers. Accompanying our starters was a board of delicious home-baked bread, with oil and balsamic. This is one of the pleasing things about The Malago; with the emphasis ﬁrmly on the food, there’s little danger of a boring dish.
For my main course I opted for hazelnut gnocchi. The ﬂuffy, creamy gnocchi had been perfectly fried before being paired with hazelnuts, rich beetroot purée and zesty pickled heritage carrots. The plate was a riot of colour and perfectly portioned, leaving just enough room to share a dessert. Before that, we had to wait for my dining partner to devour each and every morsel of his perfectly seasoned pan-fried ﬁllet of cod. Crested with crisp Parma ham and cosseted by pea purée, asparagus, lightly charred baby gem, crushed Jersey Royals, and a drizzle of lemon butter sauce, chef-proprietor Helena’s masterful use of the produce she sources was eminently apparent in every bite.
Proceedings came to a close with a summery gallimaufry of lightly stewed rhubarb, jelly and white chocolate – a real celebration of British summertime on a plate. Comfortably full, we gathered our things and made for the outdoor seating area to enjoy a cocktail in the dimming sunlight, vowing to return again soon.