Restaurant Review: Maze Grill Royal Hospital Road: Steak and Sushi the Ramsay way
In a leafy area on London’s renowned Royal Hospital Road, just a short walk from the Chelsea Embankment and Sloane square, sits the latest incarnation of The Maze Grill. Inhabiting the space located beside Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous three Michelin Star eaterie, simply named after the celebrity chef himself, the latest incarnation of this age-old Chelsea bolthole also happens to be the third instance of the Maze Grill, following on from the huge success of the original destination in London’s Mayfair. It is the sort of restaurant one is unlikely to stumble across purely by chance – unless, of course, you happen to live in the locale. But that is perhaps what makes this latest offering such a charming choice – a haven away from the hustle and bustle of busy central London.
It’s a warm, late summer’s day when we make our way down to see what all the fuss is about, and we are greeted enthusiastically by the manageress and handed glasses of champagne as we enter the bright yet surprisingly small space that is the Maze Grill Royal Hospital Road – a nice touch which ensures that the experience begins on a high. The decor is all wood, white-washed walls and exposed brickwork, while avocado leather banquettes make up the upstairs seating area – some perhaps somewhat unexpected choices, but inkeeping with Ramsay’s desire to emulate the infamous grill rooms of Manhattan, nevertheless.
A quick look downstairs reveals an altogether cosier atmosphere, with hidden booths decked out in burgundy leather to make for a warm and intimate setting for leisurely evening dinners or winter lunchtime meetings, but on a day like today, we are happy to return upstairs and enjoy the airy atmsosphere while we eat.
We are shown to an intimate table in the corner, and introduced to Zoltan, our waiter for the afternoon. Oozing politeness and professionalism, he talks us through the simple yet mouth-watering menu, bringing warm bread and lightly whipped butter to satiate us just a little as we pore over our options for the next three courses.
The stars of the menu at the Maze Grill are undoubtedly the steaks and sushi, with a broad selection of rare and native breed cuts of meat to choose from, including intriguing Japanese Wagyu, which is high-grade Matsusaka Wagyu beef known for its extremely high quality.
While we are deciding on mains, we opt to begin with the Smashed Avocado, which arrives in the form of a satisfyingly creamy guacamole-type dip, chunky in texture and zesty in flavour. Combined with the sweetness of homemade sweet potato chips, the zing of the lime juice and coriander make for a delectable mix of flavours that is immensely pleasing to the palate, and we eat blissfully before moving eagerly onto the Cured Meat Board, keen to see if it measures up.
Served with pickles, crunchy olives and more warm bread, the real winners are the Pig’s Head Croquette and Ham Hock Terrine, with the mix of strong smokey and salty flavours with vinegar-drenched toppings making for a true tasting sensation. Zoltan readily explains the origins of the meats, and talks us through the making of the special Pig’s Head Croquette, which involved a great deal of slow-cooking and the selection of some of the finest and most tender cuts of meat, cheeks included.
Finishing off our bubbles, we deliberate over the wine menu, and eventually select a glass of Malbec each to accompany our mains. In agreement that the steaks are an absolute must, though mildly over-full from our starters, we sit and wait in eager anticipation for the main event, enjoying the opportunity to take in our surroundings.
A rare-breed fillet steak arrives in front of me in a timely fashion – juicy, aromatic and cooked to perfection – rare, of course. My dining partner has opted for the rare-breed sirloin, which Zoltan recommended he have served medium rare due to the fat content, as this enhances the taste somewhat.
The table is soon overflowing up with huge, chunky onion rings, succulent, grilled Portobello mushrooms and crispy fries, with homemade barbecue dipping sauce for the sides and peppercorn and hot sauces to accompany our steaks. The smell alone is enough to make us forget what we have already eaten, and we tuck hungrily into the hot fare in front of us, savouring every bite.
While steak and chips might not be the most ground-breaking of dishes, there is a great art to getting it just right, and suffice to say, Maze Grill does just that. Managing to inject a real air of decadence into each and every component of the meal, everything is packed with tantalising flavours and appealing yet contrasting textures, and we, for two, clear every last speck of food from the rustic wooden boards on which it is all served.
Not wanting us to miss out on the chance to sample Ramsay’s impressive sushi selection, Zoltan asks if he can bring us a little something extra to try, and depite our full stomachs, we readily accept. Moments later, we are met with a plate of four huge California rolls – two topped with snow crab, avocado and crispy tempura, and the other half boasting modest piles of tuna tartare tumbled in chilli, garlic, sesame oil – and, we are told, a secret ingredient – that Zoltan laments, he cannot divulge.
As seasoned fans of Japanese cuisine, we don’t need much convincing, and are thrilled by the beautiful presentation. Once again, the flavoursome bites do not disappoint – the tuna and snowcrab are unequivocably fresh, and the explosion of strong and subtle oriental flavours is truly on point.
On our waiter’s recommendation, we round the meal off with frozen lime yoghurt served with toasted meringue – an excellent option, we were assured, for clearing the palette. We can’t resist sampling something a little sweeter before we leave, and the Set Vanilla Custard with Gooseberry fills this position nicely. Both dishes offer a delightful juxtaposition of tartness with sweet, and leave us feeling utterly satisfied without the nausea that can sometimes ensue following a heavy meal.
To finish, we are brought Yuzu Sake cocktails – a mixture of Japanese rice wine and a dash of prosecco, with juice from the oriental citrus fruit making for an unusual yet refreshingly drinkable tipple. Those who have visited other Ramsay haunts like Mayfair’s Heddon Street Kitchen may already be acquainted.
We leave the restaurant feeling full, satisfied and utterly impressed, from the delectable cuisine right down to the impeccable service. At the Maze Grill Royal Hospital Road, the attention to detail is evident in every single element of the visit, and we are keen to find out whether its sister restaurant over at Park Walk can live up to the high standard that this one has set.
The Verdict: Simple yet impeccably-cooked food with something to suit even the most unadventurous of eaters. Maze Grill has got simple food done right down to a fine art, and every dish is an explosion of tastes and textures that will leave you hungry for more.
For more information on the Maze Grill restaurants, please visit www.mazegrill.com