Maze – rams it to its customers in Mayfair

Perhaps my expectations were just set too high, but this was a real disappointment. Gordon Ramsay is the only person I know of who swears more than I do. Well, he needs to get back into his kitchen at Maze and start swearing at his restaurant managers.

First of all, it’s a fact that the front of house staff are fantastic. They were friendly, attentive, presentable and couldn’t do enough. It’s the food that lets it all down. We went for the Chef’s Menu with the drink pairings. I have to say that at £70 per head and £125 with the wine it’s nothing short of a rip-off. I know it’s an expensive Grosvenor Square location, I know it’s rip-off London, but that’s no excuse for mediocre flavours and to be honest, wines that didn’t do the food any favours at all, but were rather more an interesting wander around some unusual choices.

For me, especially at these sorts of prices, the wines have to be absolutely perfectly matched, so that they change on the palate when coupled with the food. This just doesn’t happen here. My guests were from the Lebanon and one of them knows a thing or two about wines. He was politely interested in the selection, but you could see he wasn’t impressed. Rice wine and pear cider? These are interesting on their own, but are never going to enhance any dish other than mussels.

The portions were very mean, even by degustation standards. Watercress soup, yellow fin tuna, terrine. You can check out the menu for yourself. The lobster dumplings were very good, the lamb also, but it was unfortunately fatty and there was a lot of it. Fat, that is. We waited in pregnant embarrassment for maybe five minutes for one of the plates of dumplings to arrive. How hard can it be to manage to serve seven diners at the same time on the same menu? Then for pudding there was the inevitable assault of black forest gateau. With the odd assortment of wines, sake and cider, I have to say that my insides were feeling bombarded and well fermented by the time it all ended. It required a long walk home to settle matters.

The website talks of David Rockwell’s stunning restaurant design. Well, all I can say is that it is very noisy, lacking in any ambience and the people who sat behind us were treated to a nice view of the backs of our heads on one side of our table. I’d have been very pissed off if I had been sitting there.

This was my one and only venture into a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. I thought it was formulaic and lacking in any real differentiation from say, a Chez Gerard. Personally, I would give this place a miss and stay at home.

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