Review: Maze

(More poor iPhone photography. One of these days I may feel comfortable enough to take a DSLR into a restaurant)

If you hadn’t already guessed, I like eating. Mine and Will’s ironic catchphrase is Kate Moss’s “Nothing taste as skinny feels” because really, it’s crap. I have tried repeating it to myself over a dish of deep-fried calamari but IT DOESN’T WORK.

Posh eating out is really important to us because it’s our couple time (apart from the frequent occasions Elfie comes with us and I now enjoy judging establishments on how much they accommodate her) as babies aren’t  so welcome in Michelin starred restaurants.

Having recently visited Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social we were keen to return to Maze, where he was previously Executive Head Chef. Along with the recent poor press surrounding Ramsay and Co I wondered if times had changed since our last visit in 2008.

I arrived 10 minutes earlier than our 7pm booking for a cocktail in the bar – a Strawberry Citrus (Citrus Ketel One and Limoncello). It came so sickly sweet that I couldn’t drink it, and as I seem to feel massively entitled when I walk through the doors of fancy establishments I asked them to change it. They did and Strawberry Citrus mk II was a lot tastier with the syrupy kick removed.

Because we are a bit naughty and decadent we decided to go for the chef’s menu. Much better to have 6 courses over 3.

The first was a wild garlic soup with maple-glazed chicken oysters. I first learned about chicken oysters from a challenge in the amazing Masterchef Australia and ever since have sneakily eaten them before carving a roast chicken. And when they are glazed with maple syrup: DING DONG. I would go back to have these again (or maybe save the cash and work out how to make them myself). The wild garlic soup was lovely and mild but still, omg, chicken oysters.

Next up was Salcombe crab with grapefruit fluid gel, mango and wasabi ice cream. I’m not a huge fan of crab and wouldn’t order it but the textures and temperatures in this were incredible. I really enjoyed it.

The same with the next dish, Cod – I like it deep fried in batter and that’s usually the only occasion I’ll order it. This one came with leeks, dainty Jersey Royals, brown shrimps and broad beans. It was so beautifully meaty with a crispy skin. The Jersey Royals were served simply with a smear of butter and a sprinkling of chives.

We had a little diversion from the food when a couple of older businessmen and their Eastern European companions were seated next to us: I was mesmerised by the perspex platform shoes which were nothing short of epic and at least 7 inches high (my iPhone obviously didn’t do them justice).

Next up was the shoulder and cannon of lamb accompanied by a turnip and pistachio puree, confit turnip and pommes vapeur (boiled potatoes, basically). The shoulder was falling apart and had been rolled, almost into a sausage that melted in my mouth yet kind of reminded me of cat food. The cannon was stunning but I wasn’t feeling the pistachio/lamb combo. Unfortunately I was so excited about the lamb I had to tuck into this before I remembered to photograph it.

This is the point I’d had too much wine and things got fuzzy (I will never learn).

Our choice of dessert was next a strawberry mojito which came as a layered pudding of jelly and light, fluffy cream. I am a jelly hater so was a bit reticent to try (but shoved the whole thing in my mouth anyway) and the flavours were out of this world. It was like I was drinking a strawberry mojito (which I do, often). I loved it. I think.

The pudding of a summer fruit crumble had ideas of an uncooked baked Alaska: rich sorbet encased in a light as air elderflower mousse, topped with a granola topping that reminded me of Pret a Manger yoghurt pots but all the same was delicious.

We paired our dinner with a bottle of Argentinian Sauv Blanc (glug) and cocktails, then finished with espressos and home made chocolates.

One of my favourite things about the experience was the invitation to see the kitchen: a tour that left us seated in the bar. A very clever way to turn the tables and the waitress wouldn’t take no for an answer.

I think the experience we had was no better and no worse than when Jason Atherton was at the helm. It still has that stuffy city air about it that most upper-end dining establishments have yet I can’t get used to, I think the relaxed East London mentality is too far ingrained. However the service is always top-notch and welcoming, but parting with this many notes for dinner you’d freakin’ well hope so. I do wonder how many times they can use the ‘come and see the kitchen’ trick… I’ve seen it 3 times now and it’s still a big shiny room with lots of men in white outfits. Zzzzzz.

I will return here over Pollen Street Social, putting my posh voice back on and sending back my unsatisfactory cocktails. No Amuse Bouche though, disappointing.

For two chef’s tasting menus, a cocktail, a bottle of wine, 2 bottles of water and coffees our bill was £250 (ouch). This includes service charge – which I paid twice last time – easy on the wine so you don’t make the same mistake.

Maze, 10-13 Grosvenor Square, London, W1K 6JP  0207 107 0000

 

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