Well - the day finally arrived and we set out to visit Maze Restaurant in London - this would turn out to be the highlight of our stay in Greater London. I will apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. The lighting was very, very low in the restaurant and even though I set my camera on low-lighting, they still came out pretty dark (I did try and lighten them in the photo editor). I didn't want to be 'one of those' patrons who took flash pictures in the restaurant. It just wasn't that kind of place.
We arrived at 8pm and were promptly shown to our table. The restaurant itself is very unassuming on the outside. It is at Grosvenor Square in London and the building looks like a typical long English style office building. Once you go up the stairs, you are met with a reception area and five people ready to wait on you - two flanking on each side one behind the reception desk. Very impressive. We were led to the left side of the restaurant. It was a table for four, so two of us sat on the banquette and one in the middle of the two tables on the opposite side - to Lord over the rest of us! Haha, Dale!
Our waiter, Pierre-Eric, came over, greeted us and explained how the menu works. Maze is a small plates style of restaurant. On the first page of the menu, was the Chef's Tasting menu. A selection of six courses (two set and choices for the other four) for 65 pounds. The next two pages were various other small plates categorized by Cool & Warm and Fish & Meat. Pierrie-Eric suggested that we order about three to four dishes each - a good selection from both sides of the menu, if we weren't going to have the tasting menu. As we were left to ponder our choices, we noticed the gentleman beside us was finishing up and leaving. I asked how it was? He asked if it was our first time there? We said yes. He said we were in for a treat and asked if we had been to the Maze in NYC? We said no. He said that the NYC version was 'dumbed down' for the American audience (yes, he was American) and that Maze London was much better. We then told him we were from Canada and he proceeded to tell us that the best meal his wife ever ate was some sea bass the CN Tower Restaurant. Hilarious!
He asked us if we had a chance to look over the menu and if we had decided on which course of action we were going to take? Not being sure, we asked what he recommended. He said he thought it was better to order several small plates and share - this way overall we get to taste more dishes. Great idea, and it is exactly what we did. We ordered ten dishes in total, sat back, and waited for the dishes to arrive while enjoying our pre-dinner drinks.
We looked over the (expansive) wine menu - and I decided on a white wine from the Loire Valley. While we were in Paris at the hotel bar, we had some wine from this region and appreciated the balance and low acidity. It was a 2008 Chateau Vouvray Gaudrelle and it was delicious. Hopefully we can find this at our trusty Provincial Government run liquor store upon our return ;-)
The first round of dishes were as follows: Salad Lyonnaise - slow cooked pigs head, smoked bacon, Charlotte potatoes and quail's eggs; Salcombe crab, brown crab and toast sorbet, sea herbs, pickled black radish, apple vinaigrette; and Chilled Gazpacho with slow cooked octopus, ink, aioli and compressed cucumber
Next round: Orkney Scallops with Pink Fir potatoes, texture of cauliflower and summer truffles (OMG!!!!!); Crab Salad (again, we ordered the Sea Trout, it never came, we got two salads instead, but enjoyed them nonetheless - didn't see the need to complain); Braised Dedham Vale Lamb Shoulder, young garlic and mint risotto (not being a HUGE fan of mint in savoury dishes, I am now a believer).
Next round: Pan-fried Sea Bream with cauliflower and broccoli, mushroom cereal; Slow cooked Suffolk pork fillet and cheek, various onions, sherry vinegar, and smoked tongue; Cornish lamb rack and shoulder, English garden mint gel.
|Dedham Vale Lamb|
Bonus round (Dale just HAD to have this after seeing it on Hell's Kitchen so many times!): John Dory, smoked aubergine, courgettes, and grilled squid. Yes, so worth it!
We decided, before we started eating, to share all the dishes so we could taste as much as possible. We diplomatically decided to have a couple of bites then pass the dish clockwise (we didn't do this the first round and one of us (who shall remain nameless) got a little over zealous and ate nearly half the dish!). It worked out quite well and we all were able to savour each dish.
During service, we were left wanting nothing. There was our main waiter Pierre-Eric, then the sommelier, the water girl, the young man who removed our used cutlery and brought us fresh ones after each course. When the courses arrived, then our waiter was always accompanied by two servers with trays, when the food was brought out. It was all very well orchestrated and choreographed.
We thought about dessert (briefly) but turned it down. They would have had to roll us out the door - plus we had a few blocks to walk back to station to catch The Tube. We politely declined, but they still brought us out a small sweet treat. Homemade grape jelly gum drops, chocolate covered sponge toffee and caramel fudge squares. Really, how could we possibly say no to that!!
|Sweet After Dinner Treats|
Would I go again? Absolutely! Yes, it was a little pricey, but we expected that (the prices are on the website, so you know before you go). Any complaints? Nope - ambiance was nice, music very mod and not too loud, staff very attentive and polite throughout the whole evening - including chatting us up between each course - not cheesy chat, just seeming genuinely interested. There was a 12.5% gratuity included on the final bill, but we left an additional tip - it was that good.
In London soon? Head on over the Maze (the previous has NOT been a paid advertisement!) :-)