It was a very special friend’s birthday last week. She loves Gordon Ramsay and as it was a momentous day for her, she decided to book The Butcher’s Block at Maze Grill for 10 of her closest friends to help her celebrate.
I’ve been to Maze Grill a couple of times before, when Jason Atherton was still there….and before Hawksmoor (To me, the best steak in London) I remember loving Maze Grill though. It amazes me how quickly places fall out of fashion because I must admit to not giving it a second thought once the new breed of steakhouses opened up over recent years!
Maze Grill is located in the Marriott hotel in Grosvenor Square. It is a light and airy room that is designed to look like a modern townhouse and takes inspiration from a New York grill kitchen. The Butchers Block is a long table made of English oak located at the back of the restaurant overlooking the kitchen, with glass sliding doors to give your party a bit of privacy, but without losing any of the buzz from the restaurant.
With the Butchers Block comes a set menu with quite a lot of variety, but also quite a hefty price tag of £80 per head. The birthday girl thought it better value to go with the a la carte menu and that is what we did.
It all started off very well. We had a warm welcome from our waiter; he talked us through the concept and introduced us to the chefs. There was quite a bit of friendly ‘sparring’ at this point about sport and national pride with the head chef being Australian and our party being mostly South African.
While we made our choices, a couple of chopping boards arrived laden with sliders. (American for mini-burger) And this is where it all fell down. The sliders were part of the set menu, which we decided not to go with ten minutes earlier. Having let the waiter know of the mistake, he explained that the kitchen had already started cooking them before we changed our minds. Saying all of that, the sliders were good. Full of flavour, they had a smokiness to them that made them more interesting than an ordinary beef patty.
Being a grill restaurant, the whole party decided to go for the steak for our main course. There are four different types of beef on the menu – a 28 day aged Aberdeen Angus, 31 day aged Dedham Vale, USDA prime and Wagyu. I chose the Dedham Vale sirloin steak cooked medium rare with a side order of chips.
The steak arrived exactly how I ordered it. It was perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned. The chips were fat and crunchy. Why had it been so long since I’d been back here again? Some side orders of grilled Portobello mushrooms and spinach also came for the table, but the creamy mash that one of the party ordered never arrived. When we asked after it, the waiter said that as most of the party ordered the other sides they decided not to serve the mash! Um, I thought we were the customers? Not really their decision to make, or at least consult the person who placed the order. I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded.
After our main courses were served I felt as though we were forgotten about, which is quite amazing considering where the table is placed – right by the kitchen. It took some time to have our plates cleared and the dessert order taken. We had pre- arranged for the kitchen to bring out a birthday plate for the special girl, but we had to prompt them to bring it out. It was quite a difference from my birthday dinner at Theo Randall a few weeks before. Although it was a nice touch that a group of waiters came over and sang happy birthday. None of us ordered dessert because we were stuffed from the substantially sized slider and the 10oz steaks.
|Happy birthday dear Petro!|
Time for the bill. The birthday girl had generously said that she would pay for all the drinks prior to our meal and asked for this to be separate from the food bill. As came to be expected, this did not happen. So it was another ten minutes of trying to get the bill right. Frustrating at the end of the night, when you’re ready to go home. Eventually we paid £65 per head between 10 people, but I suspect this would’ve been much more had we paid for the booze.
The new head chef at Maze Grill is doing an excellent job. Everything that came out of the kitchen was well cooked and flavoursome, but the service lets it down in a big way. Gordon Ramsay always places such huge importance on well organised front of house staff in his TV shows, but it would seem the cameras weren’t rolling in his restaurant on this particular evening! They just need to get a bit more organised, I think it would improve the whole experience tremendously. For the kind of money we paid, I’m not sure I will hurry back!
Until we eat again!