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Trying the Unusual Pairings at MazeWhy are you trying Maze now? Isn’t everyone else headed in the opposite direction to Pollen Street Social?

Well yes, the departure of Jason Atherton to open his own restaurant has meant the spotlight’s been off Maze recently, but new chef Alex Marks has put together an Unusual Pairings menu he wanted us to try and we’ve never liked following the herd.

Who is Marks and what should we know about him?

Alex Marks arrived here last year via The Square, Home House. He was Head Chef at Foliage Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, which of course is now where Dinner by Heston is situated.

What sort of place is Maze?

It’s in prime Hedge Fund territory, so you’re going to see a fair few suits, but we really liked the buzz of the dining room. On a Tuesday night it was pretty much packed with a mixture of business bods, hotel guests and fellow Londoners. As the days lengthen, window tables look out on Grosvenor Square but we liked our corner table (number 16 if you're interested), situated in the middle section of the room, which gave us a good view over the restaurant – perfect for people watching.

So what sort of unusual pairings are we talking about?

Crab with wasabi cream paired with a sparkling, unpasteurised saki, devon duck with an oak-aged beer – that sort of thing.

What’s the food like?

Seasonal and pretty inventive – there were some slip-ups, a dish of roast Icelandic cod with brown shrimps was too salty – but in the main we really enjoyed what we had. The wild garlic soup with maple-glazed chicken oysters was as good as it sounds and our favourite dessert was the strawberry mojito with rum jelly and strawberry mousse topped with lime foam in a shot glass (see picture right).

I'm a vegetarian - what sort of menu do I get?

The first four courses of the tasting menu are replaced by such delights as Marinated beetroot with Dorstone organic goat’s curd and a Cabernet Sauvignon dressing and English pea and white asparagus risotto. All of these have a different wine pairing to the menu we tried. 

I’ve watched Michel Roux’s Service – how does this place do when it comes to looking after the customer.

Honestly, it was top class. We eat out a lot and know how hard it is to find the balance between being over-attentive and aloof, and the staff here were great – friendly yet always there to help. We loved sommelier Matteo Ramazzina’s enthusiasm for the pairings he’d come up with for this tasting menu. You may remember him from Galvin on Baker Street or Skylon where he held the Assistant Head Sommelier position. He has loads of interesting stories to tell and we thought the choices were always interesting, sometimes inspired. The crab with saki was our particular favourite, but the choice of a 2001 vintage Nyetimber to go with wild garlic soup and maple-glazed chicken oysters also worked extremely well.

It all sounds interesting, but how much does it cost?

The tasting menu itself comes in at £75 or £125 with the paired drinks menu. To be honest, you may as well go for broke and have both so you get to experience the chef’s full vision.

I’m not in Hedge Funds, is there anything on the menu which will frighten my bank manager less?

If you’re happy to dine earlier, there’s a great Early Supper tasting menu with several of the dishes we tasted on it which is just £25 for three dishes (£45 with pairings) if you eat between 6 and 7pm Sunday to Thursday.

Read more about Maze

Prices are correct at time of writing. Hot Dinners was invited to eat at Maze.

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