Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Back in January I bought a dinner for four at Maze via a Travelzoo offer and tonight we finally got to go. I really wanted to go to Maze when Jason Atherton was at the helm but didn't manage it before he left in 2010. So, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, I had a hunch that Atherton was the soul of the restaurant and his departure would probably have meant that it would have lost its enticing innovative sheen. The proof would be in the eating.

Maze doesn't follow the usual protocol of Russian serving, but offers "tasting plates". Essentially this meant we had two small starters, a small main and a pudding.


Pressed chicken and foie gras, pear and saffron chutney, green tea caramel

Rather predictably I went for the foie gras option. I love the stuff. Any opportunity I get to have some will be taken. Anyhoo, the terrine was OK nothing particularly great or awful. The only noteworthy item was the appalling green tea caramel. It formed a hard and bitter tasting perimeter on the plate adding absolutely nothing.


Pork dumplings, radish, aromatic mushroom broth

Pork dumplings are a relatively recent revelation to me. They are delicious. Again, if I'm having Chinese I simply have to have these delicious packets of bliss. I was amazed to see them on this menu so absolutely had to have them. They were the single most delicious thing we had. Beautifully seasoned and savoury pork balls enveloped in delicate thin pasta. Swimming in a clear savoury mushroom liquor. Absolutely wonderful from first tentative nibble to the last slurp of the broth.


Braised beef featherblade, pomme puree, shimiji mushroom, tograshi spice

The beef "main" had a lot to live up to after the pork dumplings. It didn't. Yeah, the beef was good but the flavour was swamped by the sauce. The mushrooms didn't particularly add anything. The mash was good (as you'd expect) maybe a touch "claggy" and the tograshi spice was a thin line on top of the potato. The flavour of which only came through if you deliberately tasted it. This was a case of over-complication or addition of "exciting" and "exotic" ingredients just for the sake of it. A disappointment. Something makes me think that Atherton wouldn't have allowed it.


Banana and date parfait, butterscotch, walnuts

This was almost the most substantial dish of the night. The advertised flavours were present and correct. A silky smooth parfait with lots of chewy lumps of date, the walnuts came baked into a slice of rather dense banana cake, a lovely butterscotch sauce and a perfectly caramelised banana.

All in all a typical Ramsey affair: luxurious surroundings, good service (in the main) and reasonable food. The thing is that's the problem with the place as well: it just seemed too anodyne and formulaic. I'd go back but there are plenty more places I'd like to go to first where I think I'd have a better time, especially at this high-end side of things. Now, when can I get to Pollen Street Social...

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