A couple of weeks ago, my brother treated me, my girlfriend and his girlfriend to a meal at Maze, as a 21st birthday present (Never mind that I'm 22).
Maze is a restaurant in the Ramsey Empire which does menus which are half way between tapas and a tasting menu, suggesting 4 to 6 courses ,at least, when ordering. Obviously we went for 6 courses each with a flight of wines to accompany.
Because I waited so long though, I've kind of waited too late to grab the menu off the website, so it's going to be mostly from memory. Although of the 10 choices, we hit all of them. I'm going to be a bit brief describing the courses because a) there were so many and b) by the end we had had quite a bit of wine so they're a little bit...hazy...shall we say.
We started off with cocktails; An apple and sage martini, a strawberry and balsamic vinegar cooler, a raspberry and champagne mix and a final one I kind of forget. But after taking a sip of each and passing them round, we came to the conclusion that they were all awesome. A good start to a meal that would only get better.
After the bread came out and was pounced upon by the 4 of us, getting hungry after we all forgot breakfast, came the first course;
(The photos are before the Veloute was poured onto the duck) This was a Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute over Duck Confit with a Field mushroom on toast on the side. It was an amazing combination of silky veloute hiding some amazingly fatty and flavourful duck, both incredibly smooth and unctuous, and the crisp toast with earthy mushroom on top. To start a theme that will no doubt frequently recur, I could eat this course for every meal, ever.
Next was Beetroot with Goats Cheese Curds and a Cabernet Sauvignon sauce. Probably the least interesting of the courses, but still very good. Interestingly the beetroot was raw and so very crisp which gave a good textural comparison with the cheese.
Third course, and one of the most interesting, was the Osso Buco with Pumpkin Risotto. The risotto was creamy and delicious, and the Osso Buco pretty much melted as you ate it. An ethereal kind of meat.
Note the intense concentration on Becky's face, contemplating the interplay of flavours and textures.
Compared to my brother, just powering in, not wanting to waste a single second he could be eating the tasty food...
We then diverged in our courses, because my brother and his girlfriend has opted for two desserts, while Becky and I went for one of the fish courses each
I had Cod with Baby carrots, which was one of the best pieces of fish I've had this year. But Becky seemed to win this round with her French Fish Soup with Aioli
This soup was one of the best fish-related things I've put in my mouth. That includes fish shaped things like those bright pink sweets shaped like prawns...
Around here we had a much needed break, as they slightly messed up the order of our food, but it was welcomed as it gave us a chance to digest the last 4 courses before we had more on our plates to deal with. (We also got the cocktails free because of it, fantastic service!)
The course which my brother and his lady had while we had the fish arrived next; Pork Cheeks with Mashed Potatoes
This is the course I could eat forever. I'd be tempted to go again and get 6 courses of just this. It was that good. So good that I think I may have given each bite a little hug before I ate it. So good I'd be tempted to create an aftershave out of it, just so I could have it's smell around me. So good I'd be tempted to start a pig farm just to have more.
But as with all good things, it was transient. Then came the puddings.
I'll deal with these as a batch because there were some duplicates, but there were Rice Pudding with Ice cream, Apple Pie and Chocolate Three Ways. All were very good, but I think the consensus was that the Rice Pudding was the best thing the other three had ever eaten that had sugar in it. Which I suppose is a compliment...
To celebrate my birthday there was even a little cake. An amazing little brownie that vanished very quickly, even with a stomach full of so many delicious courses.
To top off a fantastic Saturday lunchtime spent eating fine food, because of my brother's chatting to the waiter about his time working in a restaurant, we got a tour of the kitchen. A very impressive operation with a huge wood burning stove and a troop of chefs working intensely. But alas I got no pictures.
So overall, Maze turned out to beat even my high expectations and has fuelled my new desire to spend more Saturday lunchtimes at fine restaurants (such as Hix which I'll write about sometime soon...)