Let's take this back a bit, we're out on a Saturday Date and as directed, I head to Maze Grill on Grosvenor Square. The hostess is wonderful and takes me to my table and of course being a little blonde, I'm just following rather than actually taking in where I'm heading. I have already perused the menu online at home so I have an idea of what I want; if you are anything like me, remaining attentive on Man and reading a vast menu are not conducive. So taking the 'Be Prepared' Girl Guide Motto to heart, I had read ahead but the menus that I received in my hands (to which I was only going to give a cursory glance), was not actually the one I had found on the website.
We were given the A la Carte menu and the Set Lunch menu. And I couldn't find anywhere on these menus either of the dishes I had pre-selected! Fortunately, Man made the decision that the Set Lunch menu wasn't needed, so that did halve the reading matter on our table. But after a short rest-bit and relief at how quickly we'd minimised said reading matter, our Sommelier arrived with the wine menu in the form of an iPad. This isn't really an issue except that you don't want to loose yourself in extensive wine listings of which an iPad can hold many. I made an executive decision, I would allow Man to review wine, whilst I reviewed my food options. Then when he was reviewing food options, I would review wine and probably pick one ... but under the guise that he had done so!
Our Sommelier actually overrode our (my) choice but at least kept the suggestion and final choice to the Bourgogne Region (not sure I could have gone much heavier than a Pinot Noir for lunch) and I have to say, her suggestion was perfect for every dish I had. I couldn't tell you about Man's dishes, as they where only on his plate for a short while.
The idea behind the restaurant's menu is to select 3-4 dishes per person in any combination of savoury or desserts order. I'm a sucker for savoury and for most dishes that are tartar as well as pretty much anything that comes from a piggy. So I chose the following:
* Sea trout tartare, pickled beetroot, dill, mandarin vinaigrette
* Scottish hand-dived scallops, crushed butternut squash, lime leaf veloute
* Pork belly, razor clams, wasabi, Savoy cabbage, jalapeno and miso dressing
The Sea Trout was utterly delightful, there was barely more than two mouthfuls on the plate but I wanted those mouthfuls to last. So I spent about 15mins eating the way a young lady should - that being with great delicately and tiny mouthfuls. It was worth it and I was slightly in heaven by the end.
What followed were divine scallops that could have done without the veloute sauce, as it just looked a little flat and as if someone had spilt some milk accidentally on the plate. The scallops and butternut couldn't be faulted and I had to fight hard to ensure that those three little tender pieces remained either on my plate or heading to my stomach. Finally, la pièce de résistance, the Pork Belly - I have little more to offer other than Man was suitably filled with food envy and it was utterly scrumptious. The plate was perfectly balanced and I loved the seafood/pork combination. My only fault was the crackling was just too 'crackly' and there really was no delicate way to break in.
Finally, I finished the meal with a 'White Chocolate Cheese Cake with Coconut Ice cream'. We won't dwell on this (although I do talk about it and provide a much tastier pudding recipe here) as it really didn't float my boat and they kindly took it off the bill. I did point out that I ordered it and was happy to pay but they were adamant that it wasn't to be included on the bill.
Our meal was completed with 6 petit fours which arrived with our espressos. They were intensely flavoursome and really far to rich but I was tempted to be really cheap and wrap the remaining 5 in a napkin and slip them into my bag for later!
I have to say, Mr Ramsay does feature quite high on my annoyance list but having been to a few of his restaurants, I think the menus he designs and then trains his staff to execute are simply amazing for the most part. The service attention (after the initial OD of exlanation of how the menu worked, iPad menu worked, what where the suggested dish selection/sequences etc) was perfect. Our waitress was a delight, although Man found her softly spoken French accent too hard to understand. So he grunted at me for the required translation when needed.
We also retired for a cheeky cocktail in the reception area - this wasn't overly comfortable. The purple sofa didn't have much give and we realised that what looked wooden Ottermans where actually drinks/coffee tables. Whoops.
All I can say is that the dishes served are not 'man-sized' portions, we went for a lovely stroll to walk off the food (read: wine and cocktails) followed by returning home and my rapid transformation into chef's whites and heading out the door to cater for a dinner party. He on the other hand, watch the 3 final games of the Rugby 6 Nations on 'catch up' and sent me a photo of his Cheesy Chips and Pizza that he had ordered because he was STARVING!
I'm thinking that this could only be a 'First World Problem'.