A starter (or ‘appetiser’ to you who dine out on accounts) is a restaurants first introduction. It is their opening, their welcome to you, an opportunity to sample in moderation and whet the taste buds, salivate the tongue, before the guest of the party arrives, and the main course. And what a main course is lined up at Maze Grill.
Steak is a main course. It’s a hearty dish, too manly and fatty and wholesome ever to be considered as a starter. It is the school bully of ingredients, the gatecrasher of a high school party, the beef, the over-trained, steroid induced bouncer of a swanky nightclub. It is the flagship dish, and Maze Grill, next door to Maze restaurant in Grovesnor Square, flies that flag at top mast. And with this I fluttered past the appetiser menu to the mains. It was past lunch and I was hungry for steak.
The room is smart enough, clean, calm in colouring. We sat in the corner by the window, as not to alarm the other diners. “Good God, look over there. He’s not wearing a tie. WHERE IS HIS BLACKBERRY?” At least by the window, on a fine day, we had a pleasant view across the Grovesnor square (over the heads of the suited smokers standing by the entrance, congregating like hyenas around their prey).
Let me simplify, there is Herefordshire and Aberdeen Angus steak (25 and 28-day matured), corn-fed Creekstone from America (35-day), a Casterbridge (21-day and Britain’s first grain-fed) and a Wagu, priced at £110 (that’s just for the meat) which has been wrapped in cotton wool, swaddled, and then massaged to death by some Japanese medicine master. An example of each cut is shown to you by a member of staff, wheeled over to your table on a presentation board, the meat wrapped in white linen with the degrees of marbling on display. It’s the presentation and overall fascination and care of the meat that is most noticeable.
I chose a rib-in-eye Herefordshire (£21.50) accompanied by creamy mashed potato (£3.50) and Portobello mushrooms (£3.50), the finest mushrooms in the country, seasoned and finished to the finest of fungi standards. A top side-dish.
Wine was Corte de Rhone (£6.00 a glass 175mml). Warm and almost carbonated, stinging the tongue for a second before flowing down the throat. A punchy matching for the rib-eye.
The meat was ordered medium, and arrived so. Tender and easy to cut through. The bone took up a large proportion of the plate but the welcomed taste of marbled fat, and seasoned meat tasting juicy and plump. The outer layer of fat however was not the same as in the centre (creamy) but hung loosely in stringy clumps along the perimeter. Disappointing as the meat itself was delicious.
From what I saw on the neighbouring table, three Essex boys in Moss Bros suits, media savvy bullshitters discussing selling techniques as if they were the only people in the world ever to have seen Glengarry Glen Ross, tucked into sirloin, which would have perhaps been a finer choice.
Dessert was five cinnamon donuts along with chocolate espresso froth and a dark chocolate expresso drink – sweet! Too sweet for me. And too much after my steak. I sat still, slouched, and bloated in the corner. Chubby and content, and paid the bill.