Sunday, April 25, 2010


Level 1 Crown Metropol
8 Whiteman St, Southbank

So the Gordon Ramsay empire has come to town and opened up in the recently completed Crown Metropol. The maze and maze grill restaurants have been open for less than a month and are already attracting positive reviews, so it was with great anticipation I arrived for what would hopefully be a great dining experience.

I've experienced Gordon's style of dining in America at Gordon Ramsay at The London and coincidentally the head chef at the time was Josh Emmet who is at the helm of maze Melbourne. The question I had in my mind though on the way though was what would be sacrificed from the standards set at the two Michelin starred restaurant in New York at the new outpost in Melbourne.

L: Seared yellow fin tuna, white radish, yuzu, enoki mushrooms, black garlic
C: Applewood smoked kingfish, fennel purée, pickled celery, globe artichoke, finger limes
R: Queensland mud crab, pressed watermelon, pickled ginger, rock melon sorbet

The answer was, not very much, not very much at all. First of all, the dining area is relaxed but still has a sense of occasion. There are no tablecloths, but the seats are very comfortable, noise is at the right level and spacing spot on.

Upon seating, our waitress came over to explain the maze "concept" which is basically small plates and a DIY degustation. There is the option of a chef's menu, but basically it is neither here nor there going one way or the other and avoiding the chef's menu does allow one to go which ever way they want. The other great thing is that this "concept" does allow each diner to customise their courses to suit their mood and appetite.

Things got off to a great start, the applewood smoked kingfish was simply delightful, the smoked fish is balanced by the acidity of the lime and fennel. The yellow fin tuna the same, perfect sashimi grade tuna presented beautifully with baby enoki, radish and a black garlic paste covered with white radish, simply a delicious work of art.

L: Pan roasted barramundi, butternut squash, compressed cucumber, pumpkin seeds
C: Pan seared scallops, caramelised kelp, samphire, mussels, Champagne
R: Citrus cured king salmon, soy salt, “succotash”, bok choi, white asparagus

It was at this point where I felt that the four savoury courses I ordered would not be enough and felt that I had room for one more. The waiting staff accepted my request to add one more in without blinking which was great (something Quay could learn from) which turned out to be the highlight of the night, pan roasted barramundi. The slice of barramundi was cooked perfectly with the crispiest skin I have ever had the pleasure of having, a stunner.

L: Ox “tongue and cheek”, caper and raisin, carrots, horseradish pomme purée
R: Lamb cannon and shoulder, cauliflower purée, anchovy, stinging nettles

To complete the savoury courses two more mains were on the way, lamb cannon and shoulder and Ox "tongue and cheek". The lamb came in two ways, slow roasted shoulder that was melt in your mouth and a medium rare loin which came with nice salty crustiness. It is an enjoyable dish but perhaps missing some of the variation of the other courses. The ox "tongue and cheek" is a clever dish, perfect slow cooked cheek and the interesting texture of tongue served with a horseradish pomme puree which helped to cleanse the rich flavours of the beef.

L: maze "lamington", rosella jam
R: Hot chocolate and violet fondant, salted almond ice cream

The desert menu is as lengthy as the savoury courses and after deliberation we started with the deconstructed maze lamington. The different elements combined to create the flavour one would expect in a lamington, but in a much more sophisticated way.

However, the final dish almost steals the light as plate of the night. The hot chocolate and violet fondant was a pure "cracker" as they would say on Masterchef. The fondant oozed chocolate at the slightest prod, the richness would almost overwhelm if it were not for the salted almond icecream that balances this plate out. The violet played a subtle supporting role in this, but is a must have desert especially as we enter to colder months.

Conclusion, maze is the real deal, it serves immaculately presented food with sophisticated (if some may say safe) flavour combinations. Each course was a pleasure and the best thing is there are plenty left to try which makes a return visit highly likely. Service was very good given the immaturity and the wine list is also a standout, no surprise since the Sommelier is ex Taxi's Lincoln Riley who was The Age and Gourmet Traveller's Sommelier of the year.

Going back to my original thoughts of how does this stack up to New York, it compares very well. Perhaps it is the same Chef, perhaps it is Gordon's influence over the menu and decor. Either way, it is highly recommended and could show some of the elitist restaurants in Melbourne a thing or two.

maze Melbourne - 16/20
Maze Melbourne on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. So when are you gonna book us in for a table of 4? Greg & Shaz