Dinner at Maze was a mixed bag. A few dishes were extraordinarily well conceived and a joy to eat whilst some were disappointing and the atmosphere was a tad stuffy.
The concept, as you'll probably know, is multiple small dishes, this does mean no amuse or pre starter which I find disappointing. Jason Atherton's kitchen has been praised in most reports I've read most claiming the desserts to be the winning course, yet I found this to be untrue.
I began with the smoked mackerel tartare which was stunningly plated up but lacked something, there were lots of components but it failed to excite, perhaps the dish was a little too cold, dulling down the flavour somewhat. Thomas too felt his starter of marinated white beets was a bit boring and over priced, at £10 for what was really a very small amount of food.
Things picked up as we moved onto our second selections from the 'cold and warm' section of the a la carte menu. The warm Scottish breakfast was my favourite course of the night with a smoked haddock risotto topped with egg and bacon and a piece of cured salmon with horseradish snow. This was both pretty and flavoursome, Thomas had food envy tucking into his scallop dish, a meagre 3 of them, outshone entirely by my breakfast.
Moving onto the meat and fish dishes and I was in no doubt about what to order, the pork cheek and belly. This was served with pureed potato, crispy onion rings and some kale. The rich jus and fruity apple sauce were perfect accompaniments and the meat was so tender and succulent with just the right amount of fat. Another faultless dish. Thomas again preferred my choice feeling a bit hard done by with his halibut which was fine but unremarkable.
The pork was another triumphant dish full of umami flavours, a case of excellent quality ingredients cooked perfectly, Atherton proving himself deserving of his Michelin star with such dishes.
My final savoury dish was the ox tongue and cheek served with ginger carrots and horseradish pomme puree. Both of my mains came with a side of pomme puree, I began to feel rather full up by this point but the purees were exceptional and somehow, I manged to find some room! The dark treacle like sauce on the ox cheek was brilliant, the meat so tender, falling apart with the merest of touches. I was less keen on the tongue which sat at the base of the dish and was far tougher than the cheek. Thomas said the same of his lamb tongue, but was much happier with his salt marsh mutton shepherd's pie, finally a dish well chosen for him!
Onto desserts and this time I think Thomas definitely chose the finer of the 2, his rice pudding with blackberries was pure creamy, velvety loveliness whilst my peanut butter and cherry jam sandwich tasted a bit plastic, Thomas disagreed and we hastily swapped. The peanut butter and jam dish looked the nicest but I'm a sucker for a good rice pudding.
We sampled an array of beverages, bloody mary's, peach bellinis, Gewürztraminer, Holzweg, André Scherer, Alsace 2008, which was intensely fruity and alarmingly easy to drink and coffees to sober us up.
This being a Michelin starred restaurant, you might expect a few little quality extras, the standard of the petit fours was high, served on a little slate, some fudge and fruit pastille type sweeties however, the bread was a complete disappointment and as the first impression the diner is given of the food you would think such an establishment would make more of this opportunity to impress.
As I began by saying, this was really a roller coaster of a meal. Extreme highs and lows and not too much in the middle. I much preferred the savoury offerings whilst most sing the praises of the desserts at Maze and I must agree that the idea of trying many smaller sized dishes is smart, it liberates the diner somewhat by not limiting choices to one of each course. That said I thought the room was very noisy and the vibe was a bit formal for my liking, tables are pretty close together in the restaurant section, with much more room being reserved for the bar, the layout of the room could have been better devised.
15 Grosvenor Sq, Mayfair
And finally, a big thank you to Benj who was unable to make it to London meaning we had a £150 meal voucher to spend!