As weird as this is may sound lunch is not really an established idea for me – I’m more of a breakfast and dinner kind of guy. Lunch is a collection of snacks that doesn’t really constitute a meal. So when my boyfriend surprised me with “lunch”, I was dubious.
I have to say, I really was not expecting Maze, one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants – in Grosvenor Square, among the rich and richer. A word of warning – it’s smart casual (no, I don’t know what that means either. I never have done and I never will. I’m almost convinced it’s just something to make the less-moneyed among us feel like idiots).
Restaurants aren’t all about the prices though, and there is something actually quite friendly about Maze. You hear horror stories about snooty staff who look down on you if you’ve got flat a’s or if your shoes are more high street than high end, however I was happily surprised. I know the staff are paid to be pleasant, but still, the atmosphere is really rather more welcoming than I’d expect from a quick google.
My photography skills, limited and weak as they are, give you a good impression to the enjoyment found in the food. They recommend three savoury and one sweet, although I was ready for more savoury to be perfectly honest. I had the beef Tataki, (translation: beef seared in a Japanese style). chargrilled octopus, braised pork Ossobuco and then the chocolate and peanut bar. We all love a bit of spice and the beef was damn near perfection, tasting like everything I’d ever wanted my attempts at Japanese food to taste like. It was citrusy, with bursts of spicy mint – and then every bite left your mouth cleansed, desperate for the next bit. Needless to say I polished it off in five minutes.
My favourite thing about the chargrilled octopus (one tentacle, plenty of Ursula to go around) was the presentation. It also tasted fantastic – I’ve been a seafood lover ever since my mum tricked me into eating calamari by telling me it was onion rings – but it was very pretty. Alongside this, it didn’t just rely on the octopus, the flavour was as much about the surrounding accompaniments as much as the fish itself. Considering the strong flavours here – rocket mayonnaise, Szechuan pepper – even the light notes of the tomatoes and yogurt managed to be discernible.
I wasn’t massively fond of the braised pork – it fell a little flat against the other dishes. However, the duck leg (served with wild mushrooms, peas and broad beans) that my boyfriend got looked amazing, so much so that I avoided trying it because I would have stolen all of it.
Despite being a self-confessed savour lover, I did plump for dessert. The sweet at Maze is just as much a matter of will power as it is a delicious and deadly pile of calories, and I give warning, it will disappear in one bite My favourite part was actually the caramelised banana, weirdly appetising, and I wanted more instantly. Don’t share – it is your dessert, and you will regret your good nature. Perhaps it is just as well the portion is slightly on the small side, the richness of the rest of the food all points towards this dessert and despite the fact I could have eaten an entire plate, it is probably best that I didn’t.
Price: £30 each, not including drinks (there is a free Bellini)
Yay/Nay: YOU SHOULD GO.