It was my birthday last week and now I am the ripe old age of 28. Yes, firmly parked in the ‘late twenties’ category. I’m not dealing with ageing particularly well so my boyfriend decided that the perfect way to take my mind off my ever closer death was to take me on a trip to London! We went last weekend and we had a great time!
Kieran always plans the most perfect presents for my birthday – and this year was no different. We went to see Les Miserables on the Saturday evening, which is my favourite musical. I adore it and the cast were so amazing. For lunch the next day we went to Maze, which is one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. I know that Jason Atherton used to be the exec chef at Maze before leaving to open Pollen Street Social, so the reputation of Maze was high. I did try and find out who the chef was now, but to no avail. Whoever they are, they deserve the Michelin star the restaurant currently has that’s for sure!
It was glorious in London and about 30 degrees C – until the moment we got out of the tube station to walk to the restaurant. Then, it started to rain hard. And thunder. Therefore we entered the restaurant in the most ungraceful manner as possible – Kieran dripping with water and me with my jacket held over my head. Classy start.
Once I’d been to the bathroom and towelled myself down, we were shown to our table in a really modern and chic looking restaurant. It was nice, but a bit bland. I didn’t like the bar – which to me looked like it belonged in a 70’s disco with it’s purple lights. The rest of the floor looked lovely and sunlight streamed in from the windows (the rain obviously stopped the moment we stepped inside).
Service was a bit…disorganised and was the only downside to a fabulous meal.
Obviously, the wine list was on an iPad. I really wish that trend would stop. Unless you can click on a bottle of wine and it orders it for you, there really is no point. It’s just a list – for which a normal menu is perfectly adequate, thank you (and in my opinion, classier).
We didn’t want to drink wine, so I enquired about the cocktails. Then someone came and tried to give us two gin & tonics that were for the table next to us. Then, I was brought a drinks menu and then no-one ever came back to take my drinks order. So I didn’t order a cocktail after all.
Everyone seemed to have very particular roles. There were the drinks waiters, who took orders and brought you the drinks (or not, in our case). There were the food waiters, who took your food order and brought you your food.
And then there were the people who brought the food into the dining room from the kitchen, but were apparently not allowed to deliver the food to the table. Instead they would stand a few feet away with a tray and wait for our waiter to come and collect the food and give it to us. Therefore a few times we were waiting for some minutes while our food was sitting on a tray a few feet away – but we couldn’t have it until our waiter was free. At one point there were three ‘kitchen elves’ stoically stood in a queue with trays of food, while the intended recipient was watching it potentially go cold. Odd.
The format of the menu at Maze is slightly unusual. You are given a list of savoury and sweet courses and you can order four of them in any order.
Chilled watercress soup, cured sea trout and lemon yoghurt
Marinated Sea bass ceviche, nori seaweed, passion fruit vinaigrette
Pressed duck and foie gras, flat peaches, Sauternes gel and bitter almond
Quail, confit leg, girolles, smoked sweet corn veloute
Sea bream, fennel, green olives, radish, citrus vinaigrette
Pork dumplings, radish, aromatic mushroom broth
Braised beef feather blade, pomme purée, shimeji mushroom, togarashi spice
Apricot parfait, black sesame, apricot curd and Amaretto caramel
Frozen yoghurt and granola sandwich,Daiquiri sorbet
Apple terrine, rhubarb and custard ice cream
The idea is that you have two small starters, one main and then one dessert. We saw a waiter go over to the table next to us and explain this to them. However, no one came to explain this to us so when it came for us to order, there was a bit of confusion. We also saw someone a few tables away have the same confusion, so felt the menu format could be better explained.
However, service gripes aside, the food is what mattered and it was fantastic, start to finish. For my first ‘starter’ I ordered the quail.
I loved this. The quail was pink and moist, but it was the smoked sweetcorn veloute that was the star of the dish. Very light smokey flavour with the sweetness of the corn. Absolutely beautiful and very light.
Kieran had the pressed duck and foie gras, which I didn’t try as I won’t eat foie gras. Kieran tells me it was lovely though.
This was my next course – the whole dish was really light. The best of this for me was the crunch of the passion fruit seeds, which was a great texture with the softness of the fish and the avocado cream.
Kieran had this dish next, which I did try and I actually thought it was better than mine, despite the fact that I don’t like olives. The fish was perfectly cooked and the radish/fennel garnish was the perfect compliment.
Kieran and I both had the beef for main. Doesn’t it look like a dessert?! This is one of the best pieces of beef I have ever had. It was so soft and full of flavour. There some fat on it that tasted amazing. Yes, they managed to make beef fat taste awesome. The spices really elevated the dish from Sunday lunch ingredients to a stand out dish. I could have eaten this fifteen times over – my only criticism is that the jus was slightly over reduced and set on the plate in the swirl shape, so it wasn’t a sauce so much as a solid that you had to scrape with your knife.
I had the apple terrine for dessert, which together with the accompaniments, tasted like a deconstructed apple pie. This is not a criticism – somehow I got the tastes and flavours of a stodgy, yet comforting dish in a light and fresh dessert. That rhubarb and custard ice cream was exceptional.
This was Kieran’s dessert. I didn’t try this because I hate both apricot and amaretto, so this was never going to be for me. I looks beautiful though, doesn’t it?!
Overall, this was one of the better meals I’ve ever had – and also a complete steal for £25.00 for four courses. For lunch at a Michelin star restaurant, that’s more than reasonable. Loved it and would absolutely go back for dinner. Sort your drinks staff out though Gordon!