After hearing about Gordon Ramsay’s GR2013 Fortnight via Twitter, I thought this was a good opportunity to check out one of his London restaurants and see what all the fuss is about. I’ve never warmed to him on TV but many people seem to like both him and his restaurants. The GR2013 initiative involves a number of charity events for Help for Hero’s, along with a special set menu in the majority of his restaurants. I struggled with my restaurant shortlist, a choice between The Savoy Grill and Maze. The modern-European Savoy Grill has excellent Trip Advisor reviews and is situated within the elegant Savoy Hotel whilst Maze, his French/Asian restaurant in Mayfair, has been awarded a Michelin Star. Judging by the menu alone, I chose Maze which offered an incredible 4 courses for just £20.13 per person.
We arrived on a Wednesday night, where we were shown to our table and greeted by almost every member of staff. The restaurant was fairly quiet at 6.30pm but it filled up soon after which created a gentle, relaxing buzz. The interior was stylish yet elegant and looked typical of a hotel restaurant. Once seated, we were presented with an iPad containing the extensive wine list. This was a novel way to present the restaurant’s vast selection of wine but I wasn’t convinced it was any easier to order than if using a traditional menu. The prices of the wines reminded us why the set menu was so cheap and we were reluctant to pay over £60 for our favourite type of New Zealand wine, so we settled for the cheapest French alternative priced at £29. The wine was pleasant enough and our glasses were continuously topped up throughout the meal, meaning we finished it rather quickly.
The great thing about the set menu was that we were able to choose any four dishes, whether this being three desserts and one main or three mains and one dessert. There was little distinction to whether the savoury dishes were a main or a starter, so we chose two savoury dishes and two desserts. A bread basket containing seeded crusty rolls and long white breadsticks was placed on our table along with a thick circle of butter served on a slate. Sam was adamant the breadsticks were stale but I pointed out that maybe they were meant to be as crunchy as the breadsticks you’d eat with hummus, although agreeably they were certainly very hard. It was a nice touch anyway and meant that even the largest of appetites would leave feeling full.
To our surprise, the first course arrived just after 5 or 10 minutes. Sam had pork dumplings, radish, pak choi, lobster and sake dressing, whilst I went for the duck and foie gras terrine, black pepper poached pears with sauternes gel after seeing its beautiful presentation in a picture on Trip Advisor. Both portions were small but just enough to leave me feeling satisfied but excited for the next course. The terrine was tasty and I particularly like the combination of pear and sauternes gel which gave the dish a hint of saltiness and sweetness. Our plates were cleared.
We asked if we could wait a while between courses at it was only 7pm so were a bit disappointed when our next course arrived soon after. The waitress did explain that the chef had already started making the dish before our request which is fair enough. I chose steamed sea bream, enoki, Brussels sprouts and dashi. Both were beautifully presented, well cooked and of good quality produce. Sam’s second course consisted of braised beef feather blade, pommes puree, shimiji mushrooms with togarashi spice which he very much enjoyed.
This time we were left for a while before being asked whether we were ready for dessert. We chose different desserts with myself choosing the clementine parfait, orange polenta cake, Cointreau caramel and clove ice cream. This was tasty but it was more of a frozen creamed desert with a thin pastry bottom, as opposed to the moist sponge-like polenta cake I’ve had in the past. Sam opted for the yum cake with some kind of strange flavoured ice cream which wasn’t on the online menu so I’m gathering they ran out of the cheesecake which was a shame. The yum cake was very appetizing and it nice to try something different.We both finished with the quince bakewell tart, apple and pear terrine with star anise ice cream.
Like all our dishes at Maze, the desserts were enjoyable and beautifully presented but we didn’t find ourselves making the ‘ooos’ ‘ahhs’ ‘wows’ and various other groans of pleasure we often find ourselves making when sampling something truly divine. The petits fours were a generous addition to our meal and it was fun to taste the unique flavours conforming to restaurant’s French/Asian influence. The staff maintained an attentive service throughout the meal and were tremendously helpful. However, we couldn’t help feeling like we were a little rushed which was strange as the restaurant wasn’t overly full.
All in all we had a wonderful meal at Maze, with the food and service being of high standard. Our high expectations, due to the restaurant’s Michelin star, meant we couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed with it not living up to some of our favourite restaurants like The Kilted Chef in Bath, where the food was more flavoursome and service more personal. The bill came to approximately £80 which we felt was reasonably good value for the experience we received. By all means visit Maze, the menu is interesting and food very tasty, but go for a pre-theatre or set menu to avoid paying for that all (not so) important Michelin star.
Living life, loving cake,