Restaurant Review: Maze Sushi

I believe I have mentioned my goal to sample all the Gordon Ramsay restaurants in London while I am here. As I progress through the list, I’ve mentally ranked all of them in order of preference.

Current king (queen?) of the list is: Maze Sushi. Specifically the sushi bar, which took separate reservations than the Maze Restaurant or Maze Grill.

The ranking might not be particularly fair.. but sushi done well has always had a special place in my heart. If anything, I walk away regretting the years of not knowing and opportunities to visit this place more regularly.

Of first note was the bar. The sushi bar was really an extended addition to what would have been the bar counter itself. Perched in the corner, we had a great view over the bar.. and saw three large glass canisters of some liquid infusion. Intrigued and distracted from the drink menu, we kept guessing what it could be until one of us worked up the curiosity and courage to ask a server. What novel solution. The answer? Maze infuses and makes their own flavoured spirits. How awesome is that? Of course we had to order something that incorporated those ingredients, and fruit martinis all around it was. They were gorgeous, sweet but not overly, flavourful and deceptive. It was tempting to gulp the whole glass down and order a second.

We opted for the Chef’s Menu, as expensive as it was:

Salt and pepper soy beans

Kani snow crab
Snow crab flakes, wakame seaweed
pickled wasabi

Sea bass truffle
Sea bass, shiso, ponzu,
truffle oil

Hamachi pecan
Yellowtail, yuzukosho
pecan nut, pecan oil

Sushi platter
California roll
Spicy tuna roll
Seared salmon belly
Sea bass
Dumpling of lobster,
Tiger prawn and salmon,
Aromatic lemon grass broth
Strawberry and mint sundae
Lemon meringue pie

I had my desserts substituted with sorbet because of my lactose intolerance. Actually, they forgot, so as an apology, we got an additional scoop of sorbet. What a lovely and unexpected gesture.

 The extra bonus wasn’t the sorbet or the consideration. It was the service. We felt truly valued as customers. The restaurant was busy, but Laura, our server, always came back to us with her bouncy enthusiasm and follow up. Her asking how the food was didn’t feel like routine, but a sincere interest in ensuring that we were happy with our plates. At the end of the day, good food is easy to come by, but good service is what keeps us coming back.

Restaurant Review: Foxtrot Oscar

Seriously.. unless you lived just around the corner, I have no idea how anyone would have found this place, Foxtrot Oscar. If it weren’t for the Gordon Ramsay name. Unlike his other restaurants in London that I’ve sampled so far, this one has a small neighborhood gem kind of feel.

The space was narrow. I felt like our party of five were greedy, taking up three tables that jutted out into the center aisle. Yes, aisle, like a plane. On the opposite side of the room, more like an arm’s reach away, were lined with many couple’s table, with a cushioned wall bench running the whole length of the room. It’s date night on this Saturday evening.

The furniture was simple. The accents were minimal, mostly the bold wall colours with the spaces of seat cushions on the bench. Framed photographs hung on the wall, mostly black and white, I believe. I remember finding the one closest to our table confusing because it was of a location unrelated to the restaurant or London, in colour, and seemed disproportionately small compared to the larger frames on the opposite wall. But of the exact subject matter, I have already forgotten.

As a person who rarely eats beef, I found my menu choices limited. The menu is already small, more like a dish of every main protein. The mussels tempted me, but struck me as a main I would normally be able to make on my own. I didn’t need a Ramsay dish to set the bar so high I would be discouraged from cooking it on my own again!

I ordered:
– Pan fried gnocchi with peas, broad beans, sautéed morels, rocket and Parmesan
– Side of buttered spinach
– Dessert… I forgot. Something with salted caramel ice cream.. and fondant? Other than that the honey comb on it is amazing!!!

The gnocchi was amazing. I was afraid of the heavy feeling that comes after a carb-rich dining out meal. But the portion was just perfect.. the balance of the peas and arugula helped prevent the sense of coming down with scurvy. And the gnocchi were crispy! Making it super yummy and a bit different. I had to resist licking my bowl.

Amongst the rest of the table:
– Chilled tomato gazpacho, cucumber and black olive
– Spring pea, broad bean, mint and aged feta salad
– 28 day dry aged 10oz shorthorn sirloin, beer battered onion rings,
horseradish crème fraîche
– Dingly dell pork chop, crushed peas and spiced tomato chutney
– a lot of other gnocchi orders
– Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream
– Chocolate brownie with milk ice cream
– Various drinks around the table

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I think its small size makes service confusing. In larger places, the wait staff are assigned zones. Given how small this restaurant is, we seem to be served by every single member of the front of the house staff. Shouldn’t be a big deal but we’ve caught the team in their communication gaps. Each person was extremely gracious and helpful, but as a team, not as cohesive. Which is such a shame, because I couldn’t find a thing to complain about the food.