I’ll admit it. I’m not usually big on haute cuisine. I normally prefer the crowded surface of a bustling restaurant to the swept tables of a fine-dining establishment. But, I do appreciate good service and more importantly, great food. So when I find myself seated at a table in Maze Restaurant in the London NYC Hotel in Manhattan, I feel like I have found a near-perfect balance between action and elegance.
Based on the one-starred Michelin restaurant in London, Maze by Gordon Ramsay - At the London is one of several dining experiences offered by the hotel, which includes the formal Gordon Ramsay - At the London, the adjacent London Bar, an upstairs private dining space, and most impressively, the Chef’s Table inside the kitchen itself.
On this Wednesday night, the restaurant, which seats up to 70 guests, is busy. The London Bar, which shares the same space as the restaurant, is bustling with thirsty workers, while empty seats in the dining room are few and far between.
Despite the excitement however, within three minutes of arriving at Maze, we are welcomed by the maître-de, shown to a table by our waiter, greeted by the sommelier and given a run through the menu by our Captain. Not bad for a restaurant that considers itself ‘informal’.
Maze says it offers ‘French-based dishes with an Asian influence’. And although it’s based on the ‘small plates’ concept of Ramsay’s British restaurant of the same name, the portions are anything but tiny. And what’s more, on the whole, it is very well priced.
After a very good London Pisco Passion (passionfruit shaken with Pisco 100, lime juice and a dash of goji liqueur), I move onto the sautéed sea scallops, served with a semi-sweet raisin purée, semi-salty crispy capers and cauliflower beignets - a perfect starter.
A well-cooked whole roasted Idaho brook trout with fingerling potatoes, orange and fennel salad follows, accompanied by a Californian Anderson Valley Pinot Noir - just light enough to accompany the fish. (And whilst on the wine, the twenty-page wine list - complete with table of contents - is impressive, if not a little pricey.)
To make matters more interesting, tonight I’m dining with a vegan. But, instead of being cast aside as a social pariah, to her surprise, she is treated like a VIP. Our captain, Carlos, explains that vegetarians and even vegans are “totally catered for” at Maze. And by the end of the evening, we are believers.
Her meal consists of oven baked beetroots with caramelized red onions, celeriac mousseline and mache salad for starters, followed by a specially prepared vegetable mélange, described by my dining partner as “a flavor explosion”.
Almost full, we end the meal with a ginger mascarpone mousse olive oil cake with key lime and rhubarb sorbet. Tart, and not too sweet, this is a definite winner.
All images Mark Harada
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Happily lost at Maze by Gordon Ramsay
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: Mark Harada