Gem Hunter Review: Maze, London After booking my first Michelin star restaurant (1 star) – hell yes! family I was imaging the experience and the food in my head weeks before the night by using my extensive experience of watching many, many food programmes, reading various reviews and blogs about the famous Michelin restaurant – I could not contain my excitement! I booked the table via toptable.co.uk about 3 weeks in advance which required my credit card details, just in case I did not turn up. One disclaimer about this is when I received the email from toptable, it stated that I must let the restaurant know 48 hours before hand if I wanted to cancel (fair enough) otherwise I would get charged £60 per person (WHAT!!!) And I had just booked a table of 5, so that date was quickly entered into my phone as a reminder and my friends received a few annoying texts to confirm they were actually coming! When booking, it did ask for any dietary requirements, so I decided to ask if the meat could be Halal (doesn’t hurt). The decor was quirky and chic with the mood lighting giving the restaurant a homely feel – which made me instantly feel more comfortable and relaxed. My first impression of the restaurant was it was a lot smaller than I imagined or it looked on the website. Before being taken to the table we were asked if we would like to have some drinks in the lounge area. My drink of choice was a exotic fruit booster which sounded really refreshing. Disappointingly there were only three ‘non-alcoholic cocktails) to choose from in their 7 page bar menu – surely T-totaler’s deserve more! About 10 minutes after the drinks had arrived we were taken to our table. While we were deciding what to have from the menu, the waiter for our table introduced himself and mentioned that the lamb for our meal would be Halal as I had requested it in my booking (score!). We all decided to choose three dishes each. The menu looked great, to be honest I couldn’t see the French & Asian combination on every dish but I was more than happy with the choice. We were told by the waiting staff that the dishes on the left of the menu were ‘lighter’ more appetisers/starter options and the dishes on the right were heavier/main dishes. I decided to order: 1) Octopus with szechuan pepper, tomatoes and rocket mayonnaise, 2) Lobster dumpling, tiger prawns and salmon (both the lighter options) and 3) Cannon of lamb with confit Jersey royals and mint sauce. I was actually in two minds about ordering the lamb, dover sole and sushi but I HAD to choose the lamb – it was halal after all and how often does that happen? Whilst we were deciding what to order, we were given a plate of different flavoured crackers to share, with a sweet potato puree. These were so more’ish – my favourite was the chocolate chilli cracker – it wasn’t a sickly sweet chocolate taste just a pleasant warming tone that complemented the chilli really well. Other flavours included prawn, cracked black pepper, sesame and cheese. The sweet potato puree was full of flavour and not too sweet or salty. My only irritation is the small helping of puree we had to share – there needs to be more Mr Ramsay! The first dish arrived around ten minutes after we had ordered. Before it was served, the waiter in turn described each dish which was really nice…at first. My first impression of the Octopus was…is that it? I was presented with what it looked like, one tentacle of the Octopus – the fatty in me assumed (perhaps wrongly) that I would be given a quarter/half (how big is an Octopus anyway?). The octopus was tender, salty and delicious – the rocket sauce was a perfect compliment to the seafood. Thumbs up from me! I just wanted more! I ordered another fruit booster whilst my friends ordered some more drinks, the drink was very refreshing and help settle my stomach for the upcoming stomach intrusion. The second dish arrived relatively quick again, to be honest we were all engaged in conversation and we did not really notice the time but it didn’t feel very long. Again the waiter described each dish in turn (getting a little boring now) as we all had to stop conversation and pay attention… After the octopus I was expecting to be blown away again but this time I was quite disappointed, the dish looked appetising and smelt great but the only word I can use to describe the flavour was bland. I felt it needed more salt, chilli and more fish flavour; I could not taste the lobster, prawns and salmon, everything was very bland and watery. By the end of the dumpling dish, I was struggling to breath ( a little) so was not sure how I could finish the third dish I had ordered which was the heaviest main dish! The third dish arrived, again looking appetising with an amazing smell and an accompanying description from the waiter (really, really too much now!). This dish was unfortunately not jaw dropping, it wasn’t gut wrenching but it wasn’t anything I would want to sing about. It was bland (need more everything) and boring. I did also struggle to eat this mostly because of how full I was getting but also because of the lack of flavour. I’m sure if it has been incredible I would have eaten it all gladly (and more) without any complaints! And despite all of us now breathing very heavily due to the amount of food we had consumed in such little time, we decide to order a desert (it had to be done!). We all ordered the Nutella cheesecake, which if I am honest was the only appetising dish on the menu. Again this arrived relatively quickly to the table, which was not welcomed as we were hoping we would have a little time to digest our food and chat some more. I think after watching Masterchef etc I expected the dessert’s appearance to have that ‘punch me in the face’ amazing look but alas it looked like a very ordinary cylinder of chocolate on a bed of biscuits (digestives perhaps?) with a little gold leaf on the top. The dessert was rich, very rich…it needed something to cut through it, like a tart cherry sauce or some cream – I could not finish it (ashamedly). It also tasted as it looked, ordinary – nothing special, in fact desserts such as the ‘Gu’ brand you can buy in supermarkets are better. I also wasn’t impressed the cheesecake was made from Nutella- I don’t really want to go to a Michelin stared restaurant and pay for a cheesecake I have attempted to make myself! My friends however enjoyed it more than me. Verdict: I would probably not go again. For my first Michelin restaurant I was not blown away and was honestly disappointed, possibly because I had such high expectations. I would want to sample some more Michelin restaurant (must start saving now) to see what they offer compared to Mr Ramsay. However a big thumbs up for providing Halal food on request! Food: 6/10 Ambience: relaxed Decor: quirky, chic and comfortable Service: good and efficient (sometimes too good!) Value for money: No not really – considering the price per head I expected much more. Price: ££££ Nearest tube: Bond street, it was probably about a 5 minute walk. About Gem Hunter Shifa Shifa has been interested in food for as long as she can remember. She enjoys finding new places to eat, either expensive and chic, homely or a hole in the wall that serves amazing grub. Nothing upsets her more than bad food and long nails.