Gordon Ramsay’s Maze – Mayfair

Gourmet five-course tasting menu experience – French and Asian cuisine

This five course dinner tasting menu with champagne for two was a very generous wedding gift to K and I earlier this year, from my old and much-loved university friend G.

A red letter days experience

The night before new year’s eve seemed like a perfect time for the booking – following an afternoon of retail therapy (mostly K’s) on Oxford Street, during our long Christmas holidays. And hopefully a climactic LardButty entry to end 2014.

Bar area purple decor and Christmas decorations

Arriving early so we could relax in the cocktail bar, K had a barrel aged old fashioned (Woodford Reserve bourbon, sugar, angostura and orange @ £15.00) and I had a margarita with salt foam (excellent Don Julio Blanco tequila margarita with all the salt but no mess @ £15.00 – the salt foam is made from salt, egg whites, xanthum gum and nitrous oxide and had a real novelty factor while looking like a lemon meringue pie too).

001_cocktails at Maze
Cocktails – orangey old fashioned and salt foam margarita

Tasting menu – click on photo to see enlarged copy

On being shown to our table, a waiter then sommelier explained the choices (with the vast wine list being presented on an ipad). We started with champagne, an amuse bouche of crumbly cheese, onion and salmon and some light and tasty cracker breads (mixed seed, chocolate, cheese, prawn cracker, paprika, and a variation on peas pudding).

002_crackers and amusebouche at Maze
Cracker breads + amuse bouche – a cheese, onion + salmon canapé

Flight of three wines from regional Spain – Louro, Navarra + a Priorat

To accompany a variety of foods, we chose a flight of three Spanish wines starting with a nicely dry white Louro, Rafael Palacio from Galicia, followed by a red Navarra, Emilio Valerio (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache blend) and a Priorat, Planetes, Nin Ortiz (Grenache and Carignon blend).

The first taster course was the English breakfast. How elegant does this look? Digging down into the shell, was a treasure trove of tomato and bacon pieces.

#1 English breakfast – egg, bacon + tomato served in an egg shell with soldiers and crunchy ‘hay’

For the next three courses, there was a choice of two dishes. We ordered one of each and shared so we got to try everything.

The cured salmon was served with mango, pickled onion and tempura crisp – an outstanding treat of flavours, while the octopus had the appearance and texture of a meaty sausage (albeit very tender), served with Szechuan pepper, tomatoes and rocket mayonnaise.

003_octopus and salmon at Maze
#2 Choice of octopus or cured salmon

004_dumpling and sea bream at Maze
#3 Choice of dumpling (seafood) or sea bream with enoki mushroom

The light, melt-in-your-mouth, gyoza-style dumpling was packed with lobster, tiger prawns and salmon. And the sea bream was just amazing – served with enoki mushrooms, dashi (miso soup base) and ginger, some of my favourite ingredients. For me, the sea bream dish was exceptional.

005_pork belly and duck breast at Maze
#4 Choice of pork belly or duck breast

On to course number four. Could it possibly get any better? Somehow it does, as each course thrills and delights just that little bit more.

The tender pork belly with a thin crispy crackling top was served with smoked bacon, tiger prawn and miso broth and decorated with bean sprouts and spring onions.

Again, the duck breast was tender with a perfectly crispy skin (we were so pleased to have recently discovered we both like duck breast) and was served with romanesco (beautiful edible green flower bud that tastes somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower), wild mushroom and lemon.

#5a Blackberry + apple sundae with custard

Swiftly following the blackberry and apple sundae (the first part of the fifth course) came profiteroles with chocolate, Baileys gel and ginger ice cream (divine) and cheesecake – a white chocolate log with ice cream, sprinkled with coconut and Szechuan powder (pepper) on a thin bed of pineapple (which was difficult to cut and could have benefited from being served with a sharp knife – my only, and very minor, criticism of the evening).

006_profiteroles and cheesecake at Maze
#5b Choice of profiteroles or cheesecake

To accompany the desserts we shared a glass of white Castelnau Suduiraut @ £13.50 and a red recioto corgegiara @ £11.00.

Dessert wines + a happy new year y’all

Everything about this experience was simply stunning from restaurant comfort, decor and atmosphere through to service, food and wine. I can’t see how our evening could have been improved. For that reason, Maze gets 5/5 in the LardButty index.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
~ Type: French/Asian
~ Address: 10-13 Grosvenor Square, London
~ Postcode: W1k 6JP
~ Tel: 020 7107 0000
~ Nearest station: Bond Street
~ Website + menus: Maze website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Maze food
~ Location: Maze map

Maze on Urbanspoon


Asia de Cuba at St Martin’s Lane Hotel

Hearing people rave about Asia de Cuba had given me high expectations. We finally went this week to celebrate my birthday. It didn’t live up to the eulogising.

It would be easy to walk straight past, if you didn’t know that Asia de Cuba was inside the inconspicuously sign-posted St Martin’s Lane Hotel (a grey block).

Unsigned hotel + restaurant from St Martin’s Lane

You go through the soulless hotel reception to get to Asia de Cuba at the back. If you can get over the hotelish, impersonal atmosphere you might like the cylindrical towers positioned throughout the restaurant, covered in book shelves and pictures that add an element of style and homeliness.


We had a couple of rum cocktails while we read the menu, one served creatively in a chunky jar.

Rum cocktails

Concentrating on design and style Asia de Cuba seems to be attempting to be swanky, and while the wooden chairs may match the book shelves they’re extremely uncomfortable to sit in.

The pre-theatre prix fixe menu is currently £27.00 for three courses (check the website for various menus including the a la carte dinner menu).

Sample prix fixe menu

For appetizers K had crab coquetas: jicama (a root vegetable that looks like a turnip), mango and mirin infused slaw with roasted red pepper rémoulade (or, as LardButty might’ve described it: a bite-size sample of deep-fried crab in breadcrumbs on a whisper of shredded fruit/veg – if you’d like more than a quarter of a plate of food, don’t order this) and I had calamari salad Asia de Cuba: crispy calamari, chayote, hearts of palm, banana (??) cashews, chicory and radicchio with sesame orange dressing (an unusual mix of flavours, particularly banana which didn’t go) served in oddly sized portions (K’s was tiny and he wanted more, while mine was generous and I was full after the starter).

Crab croquetas appetizer

Calamari salad Asia de Cuba

For entrées K had seared tuna and I had Cuban BBQ chicken (slightly dry, bland and disappointing), with a side order of wok sautéed Asian and Caribbean vegetables (all distinctly average, dishes weren’t quite as exciting to eat as they were to read on the menu. And bear in mind that the prix fixe ‘deal’ only includes a component of the main course; you have to order veg and any accompaniments as separate side orders). The tuna was more of a side dish portion than a main course so K still had an appetite – on the plus side we had enough room for desserts.

BBQ chicken, seared tuna and sautéed vegetables

Neither of us have an especially sweet tooth and don’t often eat dessert but thoroughly enjoyed this break from normality. K had Cuban Opera (rich chocolate cake layered with milk chocolate butter cream, coffee mousse and coffee brittle ice cream) while I had Coconut Invasion (coconut, white chocolate grenache and rum flavoured banana layer cake with dulce de leche ice cream).

Cuban Opera

Coconut Invasion

Asia de Cuba had been on my (mental) list of restaurants to try for years. Tick. It’s more about style than substance. I won’t hurry back.

After so many recommendations for this place and for so long, I can only assume I missed the party.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Asian fusion
~ Address: St Martin’s Lane Hotel, 45 St Martins Lane, London
~ Postcode: WC2N 4HX
~ Tel: 020 7300 5588
~ Nearest station: Leicester Square
~ Website: St Martin’s Lane Hotel website – has details of Asia de Cuba restaurant
~ Location: Hotel + Asia de Cuba restaurant map

Asia de Cuba on Urbanspoon