On Tuesday, I went to the London Hotel trying to get a taste of what Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen is capable of. Beyond his brash TV personality, he is an accoladed chef in London (the only person to have 3 stars in Guide Michelin, I’m talking about the original French guide, not the controversial New York guide that has a few food writers boiling). I’ve read a lot of good things about the The Maze saying that it has pretty delicious food and the service trumps The Bar Room at the Modern recently from reading the Chowhound boards, I might as well give it a whirl.
Since my lunch was around 2 PM, it’s not really surprising to know that there aren’t that many diners eating there with the exception of business lunch meetings that has been extended with their own conversations, the European tourists who having a ball due to the shrinking American dollar, and the lone diners like me, are trying out the food.
As the hostess walked me to my table, several waiters and bus boys were kindly welcoming me to this restaurant and inquired if I wanted anything to drink, etc. Strangely, the menu hasn’t been brought to me until minutes after I got my glass of tap water.
I’ve viewed The Maze’s menu via their website and I was actually hoping that they would serve a la carte since some of their prix fixe options were a little less intriguing than desired. Regardless to what I’m hoping for, it’s a prix fixe lunch only. From their options, I’ve chosen the chicken liver and foie gras parfait, Gilthead bream with with native lobster risotto, and for dessert, a Valhrona chocolate fondant. After I told him my order, he stated that, “The bread will be brought over to me soon.” I thought it was odd that he announced that frivolous statement since it’s usually implied in a fine dining establishment. In a few minutes, another person appeared before me with a large silver tray with a silver tin of sliced baguettes and butter on a thin, shale plate.
The baguette slices were served warm (a huge plus) and it tastes addictively good. It tastes like it’s been toasted with melted butter and salted right before serving, hence the light yellow hue that is present. Add on a pat of soft, room temperature butter, I’m in a temporary state of bliss.
Not too soon, my first course has arrived, the chicken liver and foie gras parfait, herb salad and toasted brioche. Usually, I’m not a fan of chicken liver because of it’s strange gamy flavor that never appealed to me when I was a child. But since the use of foie in there, it toned down the off-taste a bit and adds a luxuriously creamy, mousse-like texture to the parfait. I don’t really see the point of the addition of the “herb salad” when it’s actually more like a small pile of frisée that doesn’t really add anything to the dish; unless they are trying to balance out the fattiness of the parfait with something slightly healthy. The sweet apple chutney was a good addition though.
After taking a while to eat the appetizer, since I practically took a hundred photos, the entrée has arrived. The Gilthead bream was perfectly cooked: sautéed the fish until the skin was ethereally crisp with the flesh still moist and intact. The lobster risotto was tasty from the sweet, tiny chunks of lobster cooked with the creamy, salty risotto rice combined with lemon grass and Thai basil to add some bright notes to contrast the sweetness of the dish. It’s good but not particularly inspiring.
Then came my dessert, a Valhrona chocolate fondant with a sphere of green cardamom caramel, sea salt and almond ice cream. In ways, I was expecting a bit more than what was presented before me. Personally, this dessert was a bit underwhelming. The chocolate fondant was the textbook type: a partially baked, gooey chocolate cake. The ice cream fared a tad better, considering the interesting flavor combinations. It tasted like eating a creamy, caramel ice cream with a shot of saltiness to highlight the sweetness of the ice cream with a touch of roasted almonds. The cardamom flavor was practically muted.
Valrhona chocolate fondant, green cardamom caramel, sea salt and almond ice cream
After finishing my dessert and wanting nothing else beyond that since I felt full, I asked for the check and paid it. However, the unexpected thing that occurred while I was waiting for them to process my payment, was that a server presented me some petit fours: small dishes of truffles and peanut brittle. I don’t remember reading about this from any blog or review…but hey, it’s gratis, so why not enjoy them?
The truffles were actually filled with salted caramel with some kind of roasted nut. The chocolate itself tasted somewhere along the lines of 62% cacao; not too bad overall. The peanut brittle was slightly less brittle than it should be due to the moist air that day since it’s so cloudy. It tasted good though; the thick, sweet, slightly salty, burnt sugar candy filled with chunks of roasted peanuts. Quite good. Frankly, I might as well have these instead of the chocolate fondant that I had earlier.
Going back to the beginning of this post, the service was overall friendly and attentive, a bit more than Mr. Meyer’s establishment, The Bar Room at the Modern, after eating there twice. In terms of food, it’s good but it doesn’t send me to food bliss to the umpteenth exponent. I still think Jean Georges still rules in terms of food, overall.
The Maze at the London
The London NYC Hotel
151 W 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
Did you have a reservation for lunch or did you just walk in? I’ve been meaning to try this place for some time now.
BTW I love your blog and have been quietly reading it for the past year. Thanks for the great pictures and reviews- I look forward to it every week! I hope you don’t mind but I put a link to your website on my blog.
Roze: I just walked in and asked for a table for myself since no one else was eating with me…
Oh…you’re another one of those “silent” readers who finally relinquished their silence. Yay! :) Anyways, I’ve put a link back to your blog, too.
harhar! have yet to read the post, but the title made me laugh – it seems to give the impession that all your other meals are barbaric feasts lol.
the gratis sweets at the end looked to be bigger than the actual dessert lol. I heard of this being done at very upscale places, but this has never ever happened to me in NYC. But then I don’t think i’ve ever went anywhere near the level of THe Maze
Dana: Oh jeebus…no, the title doesn’t really refer to my other food outings as “barbaric,” I’m referring to Chef Ramsay’s antithetical TV personality, since he’s so brash, rude, and mean on TV, but his restaurant is actually refined and friendly (as in the staff).
The gratis sweets did add up to be more than the dessert, which was a bummer. It even tasted better than the dessert itself. I guess that;s their redeeming factor when it comes to the sweets department.
ah ha. that makes perfect sense. I wish I had the food network. I’m really behind on the food personalities. As it is I make do with food blogs!!
i ate there for lunch. wasn’t overall impressed with the food. i agree, jean georges is alot better!
Jason Atherton’s MAZE restaurant London England is a lot better than this one IMO
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