I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Gordon Ramsey. I can’t really explain it; it’s something my friend Maxine has always described as ‘sexy ugly’: the phenomenon of weird-looking guys with an inexplicable pull. I think it might have something to do with his hard-ass television persona; one can just imagine being thrown on to an immaculate granite-topped kitchen island and reduced to a trembling souffle.
But this post is not about Ramsey’s mysterious sex appeal, but his new restaurant, Maze Grill in Chelsea. It specialises in sushi and steak, an unusual combination that the cynic in me suspects has been designed for health-conscious ladies and their carnivorous male companions. (Alas, I will never be the kind of woman who orders a salad at a restaurant; I will always be the woman with a steak and two sides to herself.) I was attending a blogger dinner though, so I did get to try both. The sushi was all very fresh (a relief, after a hideous experience with a half-frozen prawn at Roka Aldwych a while back), but the extra-meaty California rolls (£9.00) with snow crab and a tempura crunch were a special highlight.
It also seems like deviled eggs are making a comeback. A couple of weeks ago I had them Southern-style with mustard and chicken salt, and now I’ve have them with tuna and nori, not usually my bag but surprisingly delicious; salty and clean. They went down well with a glass of the house wine – one of the best house whites I’ve ever had, in fact – at a very reasonable £22 a bottle.
The scallop sushi (£14.00) was less successful for me – the frozen yuzu grated over it at the table tasted a bit like shavings of lemon Calypso (sorry) – but went down well with my fellow diners.
But the meat is the main event. It’s even displayed in its own special Himalayan sea salt ageing cabinet…
There’s so much to choose from, including the famously delicious (and notoriously expensive) Wagyu beef. The breed its best known for its pampered lifestyle, which is said to be the key to its butter-soft, velvety texture and immaculate marbling. Our waitress explained that, in fact, Wagyu (literally ‘Japanese cow’) breeds are just naturally tasty; the massages and calming music were first introduced to keep cattle docile in Japan’s crowded fields. (And while we’re at it, ‘Wagyu’ and ‘Kobe’ cannot be used interchangeably. Only Wagyu from the Japanese city of Kobe can be called as such, in the same way that not all sparkling wine can be called champagne.)
Myths debunked, we moved onto the meat, including an enormous T-bone steak. I usually choose fillet steaks as they’re leaner…which I now understand is a huge error. Sure, you’ll save a few calories with a fillet, but after the big, beefy flavour of the T-bone I’m not sure I’ll be going back.
The pork, which was on special, was also very good – firm yet delicate in flavour. I can’t actually remember the last time I ate pork that wasn’t hanging off a rib or shredded and smothered in BBQ sauce, so it was nice to go back to basics and actually taste the damn pig for once.
We finished with a round of desserts (all £6.00), including a basil-spiked Eton mess; a vast, thinly spread crème brûlée with rhubarb (good if you like the crunchy bits); and the unassuming but undeniably fantastic frozen lime yoghurt and toasted meringue. Would I ever, ever choose such a dish off the menu? No, I would not, because it sounds a bit…crap, but actually its intense limey freshness did a sterling job of cleansing the palate and soothing the meat sweats.
The stand-out pudding though was the monkey bread (that’s a cinnamon roll with its big boy pants on), despite its dismaying £12 price tag and the ridiculous suggestion that you go halves with it. Good heavens. You can’t make something as wonderful as this and expect people to share; it’ll tear families apart. Brother fighting against brother, father against son, etc.
£12 though. Maybe for special occasions.
And then it was time to go home and sit in a cold bath for a bit (90% meat sweats, which had returned with a vengeance, and 10% rampant lust re. Gordon R and that granite-topped kitchen island). Will I be back? For sure, but on my birthday, when someone else has to pick up the tab for that crazy, stupid cinnamon roll.
Maze Grill, 11 Park Walk, SW10 0AJ.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.