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Highly regarded chef Jason Atherton will head up the kitchens of Gordon Ramsay's latest restaurant "maze" which opens in London's Grosvenor Square this coming Wednesday (25 May.) Atherton has traveled the world since leaving Ramsay's Verre restaurant in Dubai last year, collecting ideas for dishes from the Far East and America.

As well as the three course a la carte, maze will offer a menu of around 20 regularly changing tasting dishes. Priced on the launch menu at between £3.50 and £8.50, Atherton will be offering the likes of pressed foie gras and smoked eel with pickled ginger and rhubarb, ginger brioche (£4.50); Scottish lobster with white radish and asparagus, aigre doux dressing, fennel shoots (£7.50); and honey and soy roasted quail with landes foie gras, peach and Persian saffron chutney.

A la carte choices are made up of larger versions of the tasting plates and dishes such as John Dory with St George Mushroom, Alsace bacon, guillot onion in red wine (£14.00.) Desserts are priced at £5 and £6 and are also available in tasting sized portions for £2.50 and £3.00 and include mango parfait with orange and anise jelly, coriander shoots; white chocolate and cocnut panna cotta with olive caramel, white chocolate granite; and lemon thyme marinated peach with basil sorbet, gariguette strawberries and Sarawak pepper jelly.

Atherton trained with Pierre Koffman and Nico Ladenis and claims to be the first British chef to complete a stage at el Bulli. He was head chef of Oliver Peyton's Mash and Air in Manchester and worked alongside Stephen Terry at Frith Street restaurant in Soho.

The dining room, designed by Rockwell Group, features a series of maze-like wood, fabric, woven metal and etched glass panel screens and will seat 90. The bar provides an additional 50 seats and will serve Asian-influenced cocktails such as Honey and Rhubarb Bellinis and Strawberry Balsamic Caipirnha designed to complement the food.

maze

10-13 Grosvenor Square

London

W1K 6JP

020 7107 000

Fax 020 7107 0001

eGullet.com UK News Team

E-mail uknews@egullet.com with press releases, news reports, and food-biz gossip

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was he at El Bulli before or after Anthony Flynn?

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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As an aside, I first heard about el Bulli in 1999 when I spoke to Stephen Terry after a meal at Frith Street restaurant where he was head chef and Atherton was his sous. He told me that he and his chefs used to fly over from London for lunch and come back the same day.

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As an addition to that 'aside' - I'm led to belive it's not actually as hard as El Bulli claim, to make a reservation and a lot of people book so far in advance and then cancel, that a chance phonecall/email might just get you a table.

Don't know about just going on a daytrip, mind you...

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:rolleyes: Anyone with a cancelled table, just let me know!! Day trip fine, sleep is overrated you know!!

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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  • 4 weeks later...

sounds a lot like atelier robuchon, not suprising as atherton worked there for a couple of weeks on his grand tour picking up ideas.

as i've heard good things about athertons cooking i'd like to go, but do find much of the ramsay empire cooking to be very similar.

you don't win friends with salad

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Then there was the squab breast with the texture of chocolate fondant, its livery gaminess balanced with spiced celeriac and a date and bacon 'sandwich'; and a delicate but deeply flavoured emerald green risotto of peas, broad beans and sorrel sexed up with the earthy funk of grated truffle.

A luscious parfait of peanut butter came sandwiched between the lightest nut biscuits with cherry jam. Gorgeous. But those lollipops - green tea, apparently - looked like cuckoo spit and tasted like Glade PlugIn.

Yer the best, M.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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sounds a lot like atelier robuchon, not suprising as atherton worked there for a couple of weeks on his grand tour picking up ideas.

as i've heard good things about athertons cooking i'd like to go, but do find much of the ramsay empire cooking to be very similar.

it is the same venue that Robuchon pulled out of a contract to open an atelier in.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, so we went to Maze on Saturday evening...

Expectations were fairly high because of all the positive reviews, but we tried our best to keep them under control.

We were feeling lazy so decided to keep things simple by letting them choose the dishes, but to be honest I didn’t find the menu as complicated as some of the critics have made out and if I went back would probably choose for myself. We were offered a choice of 6, 8 or 11 courses and opted for 8 – 11 seemed a little OTT but as it turned out we could have managed it easily.

The first three dishes arrived together – pea, broad bean, wood sorrel and truffle risotto, tuna carpaccio with daikon and olive paste, and beetroot with Sairass cheese. This was fine but given the number of staff, I think they could have brought them one after the other. All of the dishes were beautifully presented and the flavours were lively and interesting, but a theme for the evening began to emerge – the dishes seemed to be either under or over salted. In particular, the soy on the tuna overpowered the dish and the risotto could have benefited from a little more salt.

Lobster was next – tasty but nothing hugely exciting, one of the more conventional dishes on the menu. Then the quail – perhaps the biggest disappointment – the quail itself was perfectly cooked, but both it and the accompanying foie gras were again overwhelmed by soy and the concentrated peach and saffron chutney that was less than subtle.

Next up were the most successful dishes of the evening - lamb with ras el hanout and cinnamon sweetbreads for two of us and pork cheeks with cloves and coco beans for the third. Both dishes included interesting spicing without it overwhelming the flavours of the meat which was moist and delicious.

Desserts were a trifle in a shot glass with a small Madeleine on the side, tasty but nothing special, then a combination of pineapple and a rich coconut sorbet which was more exciting but hardly ground breaking.

Service-wise things could be improved – some of the staff seemed inexperienced and ill at ease – but the maitre d’ made up for it by being super-friendly, showing us the kitchen and giving us some bread to take home to have with cheese in response to our very cheeky request.

The bill was £80 a head including aperitifs, one £48 bottle of Alsace Pinot Gris and three glasses of New Zealand Pinot Noir.

So, overall, slightly disappointing but an enjoyable meal nonetheless.

I would go back, but will probably leave it a couple months and not make a special occasion out of it. A drinks and a couple of dishes by the bar might well be the way to go.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went to Maze on Friday – overall reaction was that the cooking is very crowd-pleasing (and highly enjoyable for all that), but undoubtedly skilled, and that the DIY tasting menu approach is rather fun. Not the last word in sophistication or avant garde challenge though.

The room/décor is fairly unexceptional, and the banquettes are uncomfortable unless you’re particularly tall. That said, the striking curved tiling over the bars (rather reminiscent of an underground station, but more hygienic), and sheer devotion of floor space to these bar at the expense of restaurant seating, add some interest to the space. Complaints that the service is overly stuffy and the restaurant is uninviting seemed largely unfounded on the evidence of my visit. Sommelier is very friendly and helpful - but do check the prices on the top wine flight recommendations unless you're particularly flush.

Here are my notes on the dishes I went for (and also a few I stole tastes of). They are from memory, so the emboldened descriptions aren't faithful to the Maze menu. First three dishes came together, as did desserts, all others came singly.

seared curry-salted scallops, golden raisin puree, cauliflower puree

as satisfying as it sounds. heavily salty dusting of curry powder + salt, which gives a nicely pop ‘chip shop curry’ hint. intense, delicious, sweet puree, dark brown in colour. cone of cauliflower puree was fine but unexceptional, went well with other puree, rather than with scallops we felt. great dish though.

tuna carpaccio with marinated and grated daikon

pretty matching circles of tuna and marinated daikon, topped with rather flavourless cones of daikon puree. enjoyable, but I’d concur with Janice that the dressing was overpowering, although I found it was sesame oil rather than soy which dominated. it sent the whole rather too far west on the chinese-japanese scale.

beetroot, sairass cheese

unchallenging, but actually quite delicious. four perfect sets, in a row, each of two perfect circles of thin, dark, raw-ish (marinated) beetroot. the lower flat, the upper curved over the cheese and a small piece of more conventional cooked beetroot. each draped with a splayed, twin-stemmed garnish (some fine reddish giant-cress-like salad item), very pretty.

marinated artichoke, frisee, truffle

great combination of rather austere artichokes with truffle slices (as per risotto). this was let down by an excess of bitter frisee. the pointless at-table service of blob of not-especially-nice, and rather unnecessary truffle mayonnaise was mildly irritating.

broad bean, pea and wild sorrel risotto, shaved truffles, truffle oil

intense green risotto, as delicious as it sounds, with whole truffles slices and lovely, fresh little skinned broad beans (although not in the glorious profusion you get at locanda locatelli). less al dente than I would have anticipated though, and given the presence of the real article, I felt there was far too much strongly-flavoured truffle oil administered. highly enjoyable dish though, and mine was correctly salted.

wild sea bass, ???, english asparagus

nice piece of seared sea bass. skin delicious, good at edges, but not as crispy overall as it might have been. sound but evidently unmemorable accompaniments.

piquillo peppers and brandade

slightly unpleasant, on-the-turn sort of a brandade, stuffing ordinary enough charred piquillos. straightforward tapasy stuff.

honeyed pork cheeks, asparagus, coco beans and chorizo

delicious, meaty, stringy, slightly sweet pork cheeks (with an intervening aesthetic nightmare of an asparagus spear). all in an overly-cute lidded pot, that at least usefully kept it warm for the age it took for the horrifically expensive flight-of-wine recommendation to arrive. the dish tended towards workmanlike robustness, but not too distractingly spiced. the chorizo was delicious and likewise not heavy handed. very enjoyable overall.

I also tasted one of the tiny portions of lobster wrapped in tube-like radish slices. which was unexceptional, and rather under-flavoured I thought. also tried the asparagus with poached quails eggs, grapefruit reduction and grapefruit hollandaise (also irritatingly administered in a tiny portion at the table). reduction good, hollandaise a bit weakly flavoured, asparagus and quails eggs nice but combination unexceptional. a shellfish bisque had a rather bitter aftertaste unless eaten with the meaty ‘sludge’ at the bottom of the bowl, with which it was much improved, but not amazing.

I also stole a mouthful of the cinnamon-crusted sweetbreads accompanying the lamb, which were absolutely divine.

summer fruits and some ice cream sorbet-ish stuff (wine must have been kicking in by this point)

really tiny fruits (almost sinister), pretty ordinary and all rather cold and uninviting up against the wonderful…

vahlrona chocolate fondant with cardamom, ice cream with caramelised nuts

delicious, delicious, delicious. warm, runny fondant with a set crust, and a (not unconventional but gorgeous and flawlessly executed) touch of cardamom. nice ice cream to accompany, forget what sort, somewhat caramel-flavoured I recall, garnished with some sort of nut pieces.

Overall, an excellent concept for diners greedy for choice and novelty but not wanting to leave over-full. Delicious and interesting food, very much playing to the audience, but this member of it will certainly be returning.

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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