When one thinks of Gordon Ramsay, one thinks of one thing: the F word. In fact, this one word is the basis of his entire restaurant, TV and cooking empire. This one little word beginning with F even spawned a show, hosted by Ramsay himself, called 'The F Word'. And if any of you have seen that show, you'll know what I'll talking about.
Not what you were expecting, I'm sure.
Maze is Ramsay's latest venture, and he certainly likes to take risks. Centered in the opulent surrounds of the new Crown Metropol complex, Maze is an exercise in bipolarity. And you will excuse me if I just invented a new word: the Maze experience has left me no other choice.
The split personality of the restaurant comes from its design. Maze is split into two parts: Maze, the restaurant, and Maze Grill, the steakhouse/casual dining room out the back. Here, in Maze Grill, is where this intrepid reviewer decided to park himself. And what a park it was.
Walking through the opening section of Maze is like walking through a cavern, with towering ceilings and expansive spaces. Your host leads you through the throng towards the end of the dining room, and this is where Maze Grill begins.
If you find yourself lucky enough to have a seat overlooking the open kitchen, praise the food gods. A totally open kitchen faces the dining room, and virtually all of the diners can see what the chefs are up to. For anyone that has seen Hell's Kitchen, this is nothing like it. Chefs fluidly move from station to station, making fresh tagliatelle and plating steaks, and all with a minimum of fuss. No screaming, no swearing, but plenty of sizzle and scorch from the hotplates and the pans. It really adds to the ambience and relaxes the dining experience.
The food is great, but there was never any doubt there. A high profile establishment such as this cannot afford to lapse in the kitchen area. Sharing plates are a good way to start; do try the arancini balls with basil pesto and the seared tartare, all in tiny bites to whet the palate. Moving on to entrees, a good selection of salads and hot plates greet us, and the soft shell crab with harissa mayonnaise is a bitey delight.
The mains are a show of their own, with steaks the order of the day. A seared salmon steak is also a good choice. Plates come and go with ease, perhaps a little too quickly. In fact, the only two gripes that could be made with Maze Grill are here: menu not large enough, and plates not large enough. But don't let this put you off: the menu is clean and easy to read, and there aren't too many choices to give you option paralysis, and the meals are just big enough to sate the appetite. Desserts are also basic but well done.
If you've always been keen to see how a Ramsay restaurant runs, don't turn on Hell's Kitchen or Restaurant Nightmares. This is no nightmare. This is a clean, easy eatery with a real buzz of excitement. Get on board before the hype machine turns to overdrive.