One of our family’s favorite things to do when traveling around the world is discovering and sampling new foods and locales. Over the years, we have created our own short list of ‘the best ‘, as well as less nice lists of the worst of and never again counterparts.However, what started as an educational attempt on our part to expose our kids to cultural diversity took a life of its own in today’s world bombarded by chef reality TV and demonstration cooking shows.
When the boys grew older, they started insisting on compiling their restaurant bucket list; like Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons in Savannah or Emeril in NOLA. Since as our autistic son eloquently put it; if they have a TV show they must have cooked something good in their lifetime. So, it seemed quite natural, on our latest visit to London, to focus on ‘Hell’s kitchen’s maestro himself, Gordon Ramsey.
We chose to stay at the centrally located converted Victorian townhouse, Grosvenor Square Marriott, not for it’s well-appointed and quiet family rooms, but because of the hotel’s Ramsey owned restaurants, the Michelin-starred Maze started in 2005, and the more relaxed Maze Grill launched in 2008.
After sampling and thoroughly enjoying the Maze Grill’s different steaks along with freshly made salads and pasta, we decided it was time to upgrade and dine in the hotel’s main restaurant Maze.We made a reservation for a laid back late Sunday afternoon lunch when we were told there would be fewer patrons present.Upon arrival, we were allocated ample time to admire the modern looking leather and wood decor as the restaurant had effectively lost our reservation even after I showed the manager, the hostess’ handwritten confirmation card, clearly stating our reservation date and time. With that finally sorted out, I still had to have a lengthy unpleasant ‘chat’ with him to reiterate multiple times the medical reasons why my special needs son could not abide by the restaurant’s required attire.
Upon arrival, we were allocated ample time to admire the modern looking leather and wood decor as the restaurant had effectively lost our reservation even after I showed the manager, the hostess’ handwritten confirmation card, clearly stating our reservation date and time. With that finally sorted out, I still had to have a lengthy unpleasant ‘chat’ with him to reiterate multiple times the medical reasons why my special needs son could not abide by the restaurant’s required attire.
Once seated, it took another half hour to place the orders, and when one of us asked about a particular ingredient in a specific dish, the server just muttered she’ll be back soon and vanished for an unspecified period. Matters did not improve any during our meal, as orders were confused, served out of sync and the staff did a poor job verbally presenting the dishes that did arrive at our table.
Luckily we were seated in proximity to the large glass enclosed kitchen and managed to entertain ourselves by watching the kitchen staff turn the different miniature plates into detailed edible works of art.
The dishes we sampled, four each were adequately prepared, except my duck dish that felt like it had drowned in a bucket of salt.
By the time, I did manage to flag down our elusive server and complain, my family members had already completed their dessert and left.
A redone duck was eventually brought back to my table with no attempt at an apology for the lack of quality or extra wait.
Naturally, the staff’s rude behavior affected and impacted our meal, but whether that was connected or not in any way to my pre-lunch encounter with the manager, we’ll never know.
Maze is clearly not the place to come hungry and leave happy with their bite-size portions and sporadic service, but more of a see and be seen the type of hyped place.
Nevertheless, Jeff, when asked, was glad to have been able to scratch it off his bucket list.
His only noteworthy comment about the experience was, ’ Ramsey must have needed staff hired fast for this restaurant and did not train them as well as he does to his subordinates on TV’, a thought I concur with. His recommendation as well as mine, for a good meal, do try Maze’s more unassuming sibling -The Maze Grill.