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|Address:||10-13 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6JP|
|Tel:||020 3551 9861|
|Price: £35.00||Wine: £23.00||Champagne: £58.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-3pm 6-11pm|
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A certain air of excitement presided over this visit. It’s all about context. More than just my birthday it was lunch with my parents at Maze in London’s exclusive Mayfair district. I prayed that the food and experience wouldn’t disappoint, that my train journey there would be smooth and speedy, that I was about to be educated in the fine ways of dining and echo the zillions of glowing reviews Maze and its head chef, Jason Atherton, had received.
Atherton became the Executive Chef at Maze in 2005 after setting up the French restaurant L’Anis in London. Notable also and perhaps his greatest bragging right, Atherton was the first British chef to work at Spain’s famous elBulli restaurant under the eye of Ferran Adrià.
I entered cautiously, up the steps and through the double doors, beaming with excitement.
The first thing you notice is the expansion of light and chic minimalist architecture by designer David Rockwell (Grand Central Station). There is a luxury to the design, the choreographed mise-en-scene, paralleled equally by the menu and Volume I of the bounded wine list, with as many varieties as the worlds greatest Sommelier could digest.
Voted 2005’s Best New Restaurant by Time Out, the delightful tasting menu works with the picking of 4-6 dishes, all slightly smaller than the three-course A La Carte or Set Menu, with the kitchen selecting the appropriate order of your choices.
Cornish crab mayonnaise with avocado, sweetcorn sorbet and oscietra caviar tasted smooth and refreshing, presented in a tall chilled martini glass, followed by two texture white asparagus, ‘two hour egg’, smoked mussels and brown bread velouté. The second dish was thicker and more filling than the first, while remaining light, and although a clear starter dish I could see why it had been picked to follow the crab.
My mother had a minor criticism of the crab course, “too much avocado” she said, “slightly too much for my acidic taste.” I understood the observation but behind could see the kitchen at work, busy with gastronomy marvels, and her words dissolved on their way over to me.
With fish and meat on the menu I picked a wine that would not overpower the selection of flavours but that would still give me a fruity glow and that mid-afternoon kick. In the French chapter of the wine list and from the Beaujolais variety, a 2006 vintage Fleurie of vibrant red colour and petal characters, smelling to me of strawberry laces. Despite this childish sense, Fleurie remains one of the most elegant of all Beaujolais wines.
Our Sommelier and waiting staff were all prompt and polite, one in particular (I should have asked her name) was top draw, speaking to us about our selections and charismatically adding something else to the overall experience.
Next for me was braised shin of veal, new season garlic risotto and veal kidney powder, that, although tasty, did not take up a great deal of the plate with very little risotto to enjoy. This however was all merely preparing me for my final dish, the cherry on the cake, the meaty and wholesome, hugely flavoursome beef ‘tongue ‘n’ cheek’ with caper raisin and ginger carrots. It was near perfection, one of the finest dishes I have ever experienced. With a small amount of beef, caper and carrot on the folk for each mouthful; I was dazzled by the sources and flavours. My only complaint was that there wasn’t a second dish immediately to follow.
Memorable it was, if not for just reminding me that I’m another year older. The name above the door is “Ramsey” but where it really matters, deep in the heat of the kitchen, the food is stamped with fine authority and the name “Atherton” is what people should remember from their visit.
This is, as elaborate Londoner’s say in their lavish circles, “the hot ticket in town.”