Saturday, 14 November 2015

London - MazeGrill, the more casual Gordon Ramsay

London is the home base for Gordon Ramsay, so I made it my mission to visit one of the great chef's restaurants during my recent visit.  It turned out to be easier said than done!  First on my list was the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, a must for any foodie visiting London.  Nope, no chance of getting in!  Next on my list was one of Gordon's first great restaurants, Petrus, and while I could secure a seat at around 9:30pm, it was a bit too late for a reservation.

And so I worked down the list of Gordon Ramsay restaurants until I was able to secure a seat.  I ended up getting a table at Maze, not the Michelin starred Maze, but the more casual MazeGrill located in Mayfair.  You know the old saying, beggars can't be choosers!  I was just happy to be getting along to a Ramsay restaurant at all, and thankfully, I ended up having one of my best nights in London!

I'd had some time to kill and found myself wandering around Mayfair for about an hour before my allotted reservation time.  Wow, you can certainly get a feel for the wealth of the area, it's quite a spectacular little patch of Planet Earth.  After getting my fill of seeing the wealthy side of London, I made my way to the beautiful old building that housed MazeGrill to get my fill of some delicious food.

MazeGrill is a little more casual than the traditional feel of Ramsay's other London restaurants, operating as a posh steak and seafood restaurant.  I'd made my reservation for an early 6:30pm and, as is often the case, I was one of the first to be seated, and as is also often the case for a solo diner, I was placed at the bar. Interestingly, the little section of bar that I was seated at had been converted to a kitchenette where most of the small plates and starters were prepared, so I had my very own personal chef to talk to throughout the night!

Looking over the menu, I noticed that it comprised of a good selection of small and large plates, and a very decent looking sashimi selection.  There was also a wide variety of meats cuts from Japan and the US, which accounted for the Grill in the restaurant's name.  I took my time looking over the menu and while I was contemplating what I'd order, a serving of crusty bread was delivered with hand churned butter adorned with salt flakes.  I love salted butter, so got straight into some bread with a very healthy dose of butter!

I spent a bit of time chatting to my 'personal' chef to find out what was good, and made my selections based partly on her recommendation.  There was a moment of mix up when I thought she had taken my order, but in reality, we'd just been talking about what was good, and it took another twenty minutes for a waiter to come across and take my order.  I was starting to get hungry and had polished off all of my bread!

First up was the soft shell crab sliders, four appetising little sliders were presented on a bread board, with huge pieces of golden crab poking out the sides of the dainty buns.  My first bite was quite the surprise, there was an interesting heat coming from the cocktail sauce that was totally unexpected.  I'd not really expected chilli as part of the recipe, but it was a welcome addition to the sweet cab meat and sweet brioche buns.  The sliders were quite small individually, but once all four were consumed, I'd started to wonder if I'd ordered too much food!

Given it's very Japanese based menu, I'd naturally chosen a serving of sashimi, and I was stoked to see my huge serving of fresh raw fish presented in a huge bowl and on ice.  Sashimi is about as pure and simple a dish as you can hope for, and when fresh, is as good as food gets. MazeGrill obviously had a line in with the best of producers, the quality of my salmon, tuna and kingfish was superb.  Just a little touch of soy sauce for dipping and I was in foodie heaven.  It just goes to show that good produce doesn't need to be manipulated for great results.

I'd been having a great chat throughout my meal with my 'personal' chef and had found out that she'd only been working in restaurants for about three months, and her first gig was in a Ramsay restaurant!  Pretty sweet gig.  Because we'd been having a great chat, Head Chef Behzad Gotla had come across to join in, which gave me a great opportunity to 'grill' him about his background and philosophy to food.  MazeGrill was Chef Behzad's first leading gig, after spending some time working in the Michelin starred Maze, which just happened to be next door to Maze Grill.

Main course had been one of the beef selections, an 8oz rare breed selection fillet, which came very simply presented on a bread board with a side of three vine ripened cherry tomatoes.  The fillet was an odd shape and I'd wondered how the kitchen was going to get the beef a perfect medium rare as I'd requested.  As it turned out easily!  The beef was super tender, with the right amount of char from the grill and was a perfect medium rare.  Sometimes fillet steak can be a little lacking in flavour, but my piece had been seasoned wonderfully, which helped bring out the natural meatiness of the beef.  Yeah, I was pretty happy with it.

I love sitting at the bar section of restaurants, it gives you the opportunity to chat to people that you normally wouldn't when seated at a table.  It was about the time of my main that an interesting woman from the US started chatting to myself and our bar chef.  A native of New York, she'd been in London securing clothing for a fashion range back home.  Having a couple of people to chat to when you are dining solo certainly makes an evening, and it also helps when the Head Chef regularly drops in to join the chat!

It was time for dessert and I was given a super looking dessert menu that had many options I would happily have devoured, but given I was super full, I went for the lightest looking of the lot. The frozen lime yoghurt with toasted meringue didn't look anything like I'd expected, with a smear of meringue along the side of the bowl and a sphere of lime frozen yoghurt sitting on a bed of crumble.  The lime was very, very sharp and quite refreshing, but it was the addition of the oh-so-sweet toasted meringue that really made the dessert work.  A little crunch from the crumble added some great texture, finishing off the dish nicely.

Not noticing the passing of time, I noted that the restaurant has been slowly emptying out around our little group and it all too quickly came time for me to leave.  I said my goodbye to my new friends and started on my long train ride back to Greenwich (wow, that took a long time, but that's another story).

Look, I'd been really disappointed that I hadn't been able to book into one of the Michelin starred Ramsay restaurants for my London trip.  As it turned out, I'd had a great evening and the food had been pretty good, and I guess, quite different from the fine dining feasts that I'd been enjoying (The Square, Marcus, Hibiscus).  Going out to enjoy a night at a restaurant is about the food, for sure, but also the experiences you have along the way.  I'd had a pretty great night, which helped add to the flavour of the food.

But, next time in London, I will have to plan better.  Look out Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, I'm gunning for you!

I even at the pickles with the sliders, they added a nice sharp contrast to the sweet brioche buns
Simple presentation for a lovely cut of beef
Interesting mix of sweet and sour to balance out the dessert
I was happy to be at the bar - the dining room was packed but a little impersonal

Maze Grill - Marriott London Grosvenor Square Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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