French a la Gordon Ramsey
I had been wanting to try a Gordon Ramsey's restaurant for a while, so Maze was one of the spots I was most excited to go to during restaurant week. Walking into the London Hotel Midtown, it was a little unclear that the bar area off to the side was Maze, but not in a cool mysterious way, just in a bland and unnoticeable way. We walked in and there was a nice bar and a very clean atmosphere, but nothing interesting at all in terms of decor.
Our waitress greeted us and left us a beautiful golden brown loaf of bread, which was so crunchy that it was unfortunately a little difficult to eat.
All of the appetizer options were pretty simple; I decided to go with the gem lettuce salad, which was a tasty way to start with figs, blue cheese and honey creme fraiche, but nothing out of the box.
Some of my friends got the chilled cucumber soup, which was nice, but pretty basic.
I thought it would be best to go with the fish, so I went for the spanish mackeral with kale, legumes and bacon, but in reality, thats exactly what it was and nothing more. The fish was well cooked, pretty salty and it had those three items underneath, but nothing brought it together to make a cohesive dish.
Some of my friends got the chicken confit, which was a bit more interesting. The chicken was nice and moist and you could tell that the apple, sunchokes and potato had spent some time together to enhance the flavor profile.
After hearing about Ramsay's sticky toffee pudding on Masterchef, I was beyond excited to try it, and let me tell you, it was great, the perfect amount of salt and stickyness; I could have had five. Strangely enough, it was served with a very tangy fruit sorbet, which was good in its own right, but did not seem to mesh with the rich pudding.
Overall, I did like the pudding better than the meyer lemon curd, which was nice and simple, served with a dab of pistachio ice cream.
I think this place would serve well for a business lunch, its very quiet and clean cut, but with the less than exciting food (although tasty), and stiff service, I dont think I would come back here with friends or family.
It has been a while since we wanted to go back to Maze, one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants, located in The London Hotel, Midtown. We wanted to go there for a simple reason: the beef Wellington that is one of the dishes cooked on the Chef's TV show Hell's Kitchen, a dish that triggers a lot of yelling from the Chef.
When the entered the hotel, it was unclear where the restaurant was, no plaque visible and the place looked like an hotel bar at first. In fact I should have looked at the ceiling that represents a maze...
The menu that has some French influence was really mouth watering and I did not know what to order, between the caviar deviled eggs, the duck confit tater tots or the crab cakes. So we went for the scallops. Similar to the Wellington, the scallops are a recurring appetizer on the show that causes the Chef to yell at the contestants, especially when they end up being rubbery.
The scallops, nicely seared, were served with a delicious carrot and ginger purée (lots of ginger) and a bacon marmalade that added a wonderful smokiness to the dish. I definitely recommend this dish.
Then came our beef Wellington:
You order it for two people, with two sides of your choice, but it can probably be shared by three persons.
The meat was very good: tender, juicy and tasty, coated with a mushroom duxelle and foie gras. It was served with a Madeira wine sauce that was delicious and added some more decadence to the dish.
For our sides, we chose the sautéed wild mushrooms with truffle butter and the French fries with herbs and shaved parmesan.
The sides were a bit disappointing, especially the mushrooms. Don't get me wrong: they were good, but I did not taste at all the truffle butter. The fries were crispy, but having these big slices of parmesan was a bit odd as not heavenly distributed on the fries.
Then of course, we could not leave without trying their desserts. This choice was not driven by the show this time as they very rarely make desserts. The menu was apparently new, representing different seasons. We opted for the chocolate decadence, a dense and very chocolatey cake served with salted caramel and a milk sorbet.
I think the name of the dessert suits it: it was definitely decadent and you cannot stop eating! I loved the addition of the salted caramel that paired perfectly with the dark chocolate. This is definitely a dessert I recommend.
The second dessert we ordered was simply called Apple. It was apparently their take on a tarte tatin, the classic French dessert.
This dessert was composed of an apple bombe, apple compote and apple tatin ice cream, with a bit of caramel. Although very refreshing, I only liked the ice cream and the crumbles under. It missed a bit of the buttery taste that I was expecting.
Then, we got a surprise: more desserts on the house. It followed my discussion at the end of the meal with our waiter, Vincent, who wondered if I was working in the restaurant industry, as I was not only taking pictures, but asking questions about the dish. I explained that I was a blogger. Asking then if we were celebrating something, I explained that, once a month, we celebrate the 8th as that is the day we got married.
The first dessert was a sort of hazelnut mousse that was superb, especially if, like me, you love hazelnut desserts. The second one was on the menu: the gingerbread.
The gingerbread dessert is a celebration to Autumn and a take on a cheese plate, the bread being of course the gingerbread itself and the cheese being replaced by the cheesecake. Added to that was a walnut ice cream as well as some red wine poached pear and pear pates de fruit. If was good, but I think that the chocolate decadence eclipsed all.
Fine Dining in Your Jeans
New York City is the melting pot of the world. It’s also where one can access flavors from around the globe within a mile radius, we all know that. The city offers fine dining and hole in the wall eateries. There’s also the casual dining variety- you name it, NYC has it. However, I’ve never been to an establishment that creates innovative food while catering to the average joe until I visited MAZE by Gordon Ramsay.
MAZE By Gordon Ramsay is the less formal version of the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant (both located at The London Hew York). Jackets are not required here, but the chefs and cooks at MAZE certainly still put 100% effort in serving diners with a cutting edge culinary experience. Not only is the food exceptional but the interior is as well.
Guests at MAZE are able to take a glimpse of what it is like in the hotel’s rooms because the restaurant carries David Collins’ design throughout the dining space as well. Collins’ touches of art deco luxe is evident, from the light fixtures to the angular mirrors and even the dinnerware. The luxe design is also visible through the bar and the lounge areas. Stepping into the restaurant takes visitors to an old world elegance, without sacrificing contemporary elements.
The menu at MAZE features French influenced seasonal dishes.The kitchen is headlined by Chef de Cuisine Markus Glocker along Executive Pastry Chef Scott Cioe. After trying the Chef’s Five-Course Menu, I immediately knew why Gordon Ramsay brought Markus Glocker to be the restaurant’s main chef.
Prior to starting my actual dinner, the chef sent my table a Beet Tartare. The small grub was tangy with a slight sweet taste- a very pleasant way to kickstart my dining experience at MAZE.
I started the Chef’s Five-Course Menu with Cream of Caulliflower with Curried Pumpernickel and Parmesan Crisp. Frankly, I don’t get excited for soup (unless it’s tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich) and I was on the fence when it was served. There was little color in the presentation but after my first taste, I wanted more and I finished the whole thing within minutes. It was life changing. I stared at my empty bowl just wondering how in the world could a soup have such levels of flavors in it. The three ingredients work perfectly together and the parmesan crisp took my already etherial experience further.
The soup was followed by the Asparagus Salad with Burrata, Maitake, Cherry-balsamic Vinegar. I was impressed by how much I could taste each ingredient’s own flavor. The cherry in the vinegar and the cream of the burrata highlighted the mushroom and the asparagus. Salads are not really known as soul food but there was something about this particular salad that coated my palete with the same comforting feeling I get when I eat mac and cheese.
The third item on the Chef’s Five-Course Menu is the Sea Scallops with Pickled Ramp, Green Garlic and Zucchini. The scallops were cooked to perfection and were savory, sweet and a bit salty. The pickled rams and green garlic were the subtle flavors in the dish.
For the main course, I had a choice of Fluke with Baby Lettuce, Garlic Spaetzle and Grapefruit or Dry Aged Strip Loin with Pommes Anna, Portobello and Spinach. I decided to have the steak. It was, again cooked to perfection; the steak had the right amount of juiciness. As fancy as the plate looked, the taste was quite similar to comfort food. The chef used a classic combination of ingredients: meat, potatoes and greens.
I also had two dessert options: Dark Chocolate Fondant with Green Cardamom Caramel and Salted Almond Ice Cream and Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brown Sugar Crumble and fruits of the Forest Sorbet. At this point, I was starting to feel full and I decided to split the pudding with my guest. But the kitchen crew really wanted me to try both and our waiter arrived to the table with the two dessert dishes and Chocolate Truffles.
When I looked at Sticky Toffee Pudding, I really thought that I wouldn’t be able to finish it. I had assumed that it would be too sweet but I was wrong. It wasn’t an overly sweet dessert. There were varying levels of sweet in the dish with the pudding the sweeter element of it. The sorbet flavors that accompanied the pudding were basil, saffron and raspberry. To serve the pudding with sorbets was a smart choice as it cleansed the palete.
I found the Dark Chocolate Fondant quite similar to a souffle or a crème brûlée in the way it was presented. When I dug my fork into the fondant, a gooey chocolatey goodness filled the rammekin. It was creamy and moist and rich (both dessert items were). I suggest mixing in the almond ice cream in with the fondant (amazing!).
The Chocolate Truffles were definitely something that one would want to take it slow with. I was genuinely full and couldn’t have any more food so I requested to take them home. I did what I always do with chocolate and left it in the freezer overnight. The truffles were bittersweet and velvety. As much as I liked the fondant and the truffles, the pudding won the dessert round.
I also chose to do a wine pairing with the Chef’s Five-Course Menu. Carlo, who tended to my table for the evening did a wonderful job with his recommendations. Each wine he picked was essential to the overall taste of the dish, specially the first two that were served before the main course. In addition to the extensive wine list, diners can also enjoy cocktails from the bar. I was able to try one (I forgot what it was called) but I remember that it was a good portion and that it was a bit stronger than I would’ve prefered.
The Chef’s Five Course Menu is $82 per person but it’s a great deal for such an excellent dinner.
Maze by Gordon Ramsey
Maze NYC Restaurant Review
NYC 2009: Part 1
So, my we took a little trip to the big apple this weekend for a few foodie-related adventures (that was really my intention, at least). All I can say is that I have come home with so many new ideas and just a little disappointed in Toronto’s food scene. Now, I wish I could have taken more pictures of the restaurants and the food I ate (I only managed to take pictures at Ramsay’s place before I got cut off). Believe me, my comments will not do these places justice, however, my friend just wouldn’t let me. Apparently, taking photos makes me look like “I have never been to these types of places before”… I begged and tried to explain to him that I needed them for my blog and that lots of foodies take photos (I swear, like every other table had a camera out) but he wouldn’t budge, and he was paying for it so I didn’t want to spend the entire 3 hours at the restaurant fighting with him. Sorry, but my descriptions will have to suffice.
Oh and PS: Yes, this all sounds like a lot of food, and it is. I will be upping my daily workouts from 45- 60 minutes to about 90 minutes. Also, I don’t feel bad about it at all; we were walking ALL day long, so I’d say we worked up quite an appetite. So, we started with lunch at MAZE, Gordan Ramsay's spot in the London hotel.
Tortellini of beef short rib (beautifully cooked, not gummy or dry), escarole (well seasoned greens), trompette royale (mushrooms) and dashi (a Japanese stock, kind of like miso)
Wonderfully powerful umami flavour, I really love these flavours.
Carnaroli risotto (a type of rice, similar to Arborio) of lovage (kind of like celery), steamed mussels, broad beans, chives
Very rich, creamy, sharp parm flavour, the tiny supple mussels contrasted perfectly with the crunch of the lovage. A touch undercooked for my liking of risotto, however.
Lemon quark cheesecake with strawberry gelee and pistachio ice cream
At first bite I thought perhaps this was just an ordinary cheesecake, however, when I cut into it I noticed that it exploded with delicious strawberry sauce and was mounted on a pistachio crust. Incredible! Not to mention the cheesecake itself was one of the most smooth and creamy I have ever had. Well done.
Chocolate truffles and peanut brittle with the bill
Room was alright, not really my style. I prefer a more classic, elegant or slightly more rustic look in restaurants. This was certainly more modern, with silver, mirrors and more flash. But I did love the washrooms (I judge a lot of restaurants by their washrooms). There was just a long hallway of private rooms that were very spacious and clean.
Service was well timed, courteous and professional. My only complaint was that they were not very well informed of some of the ingredients used. For instance, we asked what “rooftop honey” was and how it was different from traditional honey, yet no one really seemed to know. Too bad, I was hoping for an interesting foodie story. With a quick google search I have found that rooftop honey actually means that the honey is harvested (yes, with bees) on rooftops in NYC because there isn’t much room on the ground. Interesting eh?
To be continued...
Gordon Ramsay's Maze at the London
Soothsayers have been predicting the demise of Gordon Ramsay at the London, but for now it is alive and well. We visited Maze, the casual front room, on Friday night, and it was reasonably close to full. The main dining room appeared to be better than half full—not bad for a summer weekend.
None of this changes the fact that Gordon Ramsay is completely off the radar in New York. The restaurant took a critical drubbing when it opened 2½ years ago, and I suspect it is surviving on visitor traffic alone. I cannot remember the last local review, blog entry or message board post. It probably wasn’t within the last year.
We’ve visited the main dining room twice (here, here), finding it on both occasions better than the critics did. The Michelin inspectors agreed too, awarding two stars. Like many upscale restaurants, Gordon Ramsay has an informal front room, here dubbed “Maze,” which is meant to offer slightly less formal cuisine a more accessible à la carte price point.
Maze is a somewhat ill-defined concept. There are about a dozen small plates priced from $13–20, plus four “market specials” (essentially entrées) $20–38. The server advised that three of the small plates would make a suitable meal, but they come in widely varying sizes, and it’s tough to tell what you’re getting. We decided to share two of those and two entrées.
The atmosphere is tough to decipher. There are no tablecloths, tables are close together, and the restaurant shares space with the bar, where cocktails are $17. Yet, service is rather formal, with a flotilla of sauces and broths applied tableside, and a wine list where you’ll struggle to find much below $60. At least the wine comes properly chilled.
If dinner had ended with the appetizers, I might have been tempted to award three stars. A terrine of tête de veau (above left) with caramelized sweetbreads and green bean salad was superb. So was a silken filet of fluke (above right), in a portion that could very well have been an entrée.
But duck breast (above left) was rubbery and a pork chop (above right) was over-cooked. Both dishes were fine in their conception, but the same heavy hand at the meat station had ruined them.
We got plenty of attention when we sat down, and the food came out reasonably promptly, but after the restaurant filled up we felt a bit neglected. The space is pleasant, and if the rest of the food were as good as our appetizers we would feel more confident about returning.
The world famous Gordon Ramsay has a great dinning restaurant called MAZE. Reviewers state that you can never go wrong when wanting to choose between class and taste. Not only is the food above average, but it is also backed by a famous chef.
Many reviewers have one negative about the restaurant and that would be the portion size. Other than portion size, there does not seem to be any other problems. Many say the prices of the a bit steep but it is well worth the time and pleasure you get from eating gourmet food.
As for for the atmosphere, reviewers say it is always busy. Seeing as it is a hotel restaurant, there are people constantly walking in and out of the place.
The service itself at MAZE is 5 stars all the way. The wait time isn't too long for the food that you are ordering. Overall, MAZE serves the best food. Despite a little wait everything is on point.