Gordon Ramsay, the man, has some pretty insane standards.
Gordon Ramsay, the brand, is no different.
Maze at the London falls under Gordon Ramsay’s brand, and he does have some input on the menu, but it is mainly conceived by executive chef Jason Atherton (Author of the book).
I took a trip down to NYC to visit my brother, The Fat Lantern, and I thought it would be nice to treat him to brunch, especially considering how inexpensive the brunch menu seemed to be for a celebrity chef’s restaurant in NYC.
I arrived in the city mid-morning, so we made a quick coffee stop and then took a subway to Maze at the London, located at 151 West 54th Street. We actually walked past a theater playing Mamma Mia (I love ABBA).
We finally got to The London, the hotel that houses Maze, and I hardly knew it until Dom pointed to the awning.
The restaurant is located just to the right when you enter the lobby of the hotel. I made my way to the hostess station and let them know we were about twenty minutes early for our noon reservation. On the counter was a copy of Cooking For Friends, one of the remaining Ramsay cookbooks I didn’t own.
We were seated immediately, and there were only about a handful of other tables occupied. We were greeted by our server who filled our water glasses.
The menu is very streamlined and easy to read.
I had my eye on a few of the entrees, so I knew I was going for one of the prix fixe options. Two choices of anything on the menu and a mimosa costs $45, and three choices and a mimosa is $55. I figured the portions were smaller, but our server debunked that and indicated the full portions would be coming out.
So, positive I wouldn’t be able to handle three full entrees, I went with the prix fixe option with two entres ($45). I picked the highly recommended London Beef Burger (tomato relish, garlic mayonnaise, and caramelized onion (regular price $20)…
…and Croque Madame with seasoned mixed greens (regular price $22 – $19+3 for the egg).
Dom ordered the eggs benedict, toasted English muffin, honey-roasted ham, sauce Hollandaise ($24).
Some freshly baked pastries and bread came from the kitchen.
There were apricot croissants, pain au chocolat, and something akin to focaccia bread. They served it with a dish of butter, but nothing needed it. The pastries and bread were divine.
Dom and I split everything pretty evenly, except I let him take the extra piece of bread since I had two full entrees coming.
Someone walked over from the bar and delivered my mimosa.
It was refreshing and delicious. The juice in the mimosa was freshly squeezed, and the pulp was plentiful. The champagne that was used to top it off was fairly dry, so the mimosa had a tremendous balance of sweet and astringent. So awesome.
Here’s what Dom’s eggs benedict looked like.
He said it was awesome.
And my croque madame arrived first. The server suggested the courses in this order so the burger could rest while I had this.
There is so much to say about this dish that I don’t know where to start! The greens were tossed simply with salt, pepper, and high quality olive oil. It was dressed very lightly, and the taste of the olive oil was very prominent. I would have been pleased with just a bowl of these greens.
The croque madame was sublime. The bread was airy and rich, as if it had been deep fried in butter. There was a thin slice of smoked ham inside of the bread, and it was topped with super-luxurious gruyere cheese. The fried egg was cooked perfectly. Eating the whole beast with a fork and knife and allowing the warm yolk to run onto the hot toast and cheese resulted in the perfect texture; it became like a sauce.
This was the best dish I’ve ever eaten.
I couldn’t finish it because I knew the burger was going to be huge, so I let Dom have the last few bites, and he too loved it.
They brought me a little baby jar of Heinz ketchup. They were giving out baby jars of jam and marmalade for people who ordered toast too.
The burger and fries arrived, and it was served deconstructed on a cutting board.
I assembled the burger and cut it down the center to check the temperature.
I ordered it medium rare, but it was a little closer to medium. My guess is that I took too long to eat the croque madame. I savored that as long as I could.
The burger was very good. Actually, all of the accompaniments and the bread were great. The meat itself was just ok. This is one of those burgers that has lots of things mixed into the beef; many would argue this is more like grilled meatloaf than a burger. It was very tasty, but I’ve been more of a fan of burgers with just beef, salt, and pepper lately. The depth of flavors throughout the sandwich was intense though. The caramelized onions and tomato relish are almost indescribable. I’ll certainly never forget the experience of this burger.
I also didn’t finish this course. Dom helped me out a little.
I had to make a trip to their beautiful restroom to wash up after the burger; there’s no elegant way to eat that thing.
I did have to order dessert.
I’ve read that Gordon Ramsay’s favorite dessert is chocolate fondant, also known as molten chocolate cake, and it was on the menu served with green cardamom caramel, sea salt and almond ice cream ($11). I had to try it.
Beside the taste, my favorite part of this dessert is breaking the surface and unleashing the chocolate-y goodness.
The cake was fluid and rich. It had a nice silky texture. Even though it was only a few bites, it was the best few bites of dessert I had ever eaten. That’s really all I can say.
The chef sent us some truffles he was just fooling around making in the kitchen.
They were salted caramel truffles. The chocolate shell was dusted with bitter and complex cocoa powder. Once you ate through the shell, the salted caramel melted in your mouth. And the salt was prominent and really helped to make the flavors in this bite explode.
I knew this was going to be a special meal before I went, but I am still blown away at how special it turned out. For $86 including tax (but not tip), we ate like kings [side note: I should have just ordered Dom’s Eggs Benny under my prix fixe meal. I think if I would have chosen his as a third course and ordered him a mimosa too, I would have spent $15 less!].
Although the dinner is probably amazing, brunch seems like the best way to go to sample something truly amazing. I know I’ll be back next time I’m in NYC.
[On the way out, I stopped at the hostess station to inquire about the price of the book I saw. $50. When we got to our next destination, I placed an order on the amazon marketplace for the book and paid $19 including shipping. The f*cking cover price is only $35. What gives, Ramsay?]