Posts Tagged ‘Alex Marks’

Maze – constrained by design

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Maze has a very specific dining style. It focuses on smaller tasting sized dishes. It is definitely not a place to visit for a hearty lunch.

We chose from the 4 course set menu, going for 3 savory dishes and 1 dessert along with a flight of wine.  I remember enjoying the flights from an earlier visit, they work well in that they consist of one white, one red and one dessert wine. They were very good wines of the sort that would work well with most food selections, rather than being specifically matched to individual dishes.

One of the constraints we found at Maze was that the dishes were delivered in the order of the menu, which means you can find yourself starting with a meat dish and finishing with a fish dish. Another constraint is that the set menu is not very extensive, so even when it is just two people dining, you can not avoid having duplicate dishes. They are just served in a different order, as you can see from our example:-

1st diner had:

Course 1 – Pressed confit duck and foie gras, Waldorf salad

Course 2 – Braised veal shin, rocket pesto, white onion risotto

Course 3 – Loch Duart salmon, fondue of leek, vinaigrette of brown shrimps, horseradish

2nd diner had:

Course 1 – Braised veal shin, rocket pesto, white onion risotto

Course 2 – Loch Duart salmon, fondue of leek, vinaigrette of brown shrimps, horseradish

Course 3 – Szechuan-spiced Suffolk pork belly, chilli apple purée, bok choy

I have to admit that I found it a bit strange to be eating a dish that my companion was about to have as his next course. It did mean though that we could be in 100% agreement on the standout dish – the rather stunning Loch Duart salmon, with its wonderful flavour and texture combinations.

For dessert we both chose the attractively presented Hazelnut parfait, cherry sorbet and griotte cherries.

Alex Marks formally of the Foliage is head chef here now following Jason Athertons departure to open his own restaurant (Pollen Street Social) and we had hoped that perhaps Alex would bring in some of the artistic and culinary style we experienced at the Foliage. He was not in the kitchen on our visit, but it did rather seem as though the concept of Maze would perhaps be a bit too restrictive to allow that.

However despite the constraints and dainty portions, I have to say we did rather enjoy our lunch at Maze.

Marks out of 10

Food 7.1

Service 6.3

Ambience 6.5

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Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

What’s coming next ?

The restaurants on our list for the next couple of months include some old and some new :-

LONDON – ENGLAND

  • Chez Bruce – Making a return visit, just because it’s so good.
  • Chor Bizarre – A new venue for us, reviewing the branch in Mayfair, not the one in Delhi or Noida ;)
  • La Trompette - Making a return visit after a gap of a couple of years to this Nigel Platts-Martins restaurant in Chiswick.
  • Launceston Place – Making a return visit after a gap of almost two years to Tristan Welch’s restaurant in Kensington.
  • Maze - Making a return visit,  Alex Marks formally of the Foliage has replaced Jason Atherton as head chef.
  • Morton’s Club – Making a  return visit to this exclusive private members club.
  • Roux at Parliament Square – A lunch time visit for a change.
  • Seven Park Place by William Drabble – A first time visit to this highly acclaimed restaurant in St James Club and Hotel.
  • Trinity – A first time vist to this Clapham Restaurant, its has been on the wish list for a while.

NEW SOUTH WALES – AUSTRALIA

  • Rick Stein at Bannisters – Our Australian correspondent visited Ricks restaurant in Cornwall a couple of years ago so should be in a good position to see how the Australian outpost compares.  Apparently it’s a tad warmer there than Padstow.
  • Quay – One of the Sydney’s top restaurants.

Foliage – The Last Post

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Last Post for the Foliage, not last post for No Expert - we are still going strong.  The Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental however had a farewell lunch service today. It was lovely to be there but tinged with sadness, as it marked the end of an era for us.

The team pulled out all the stops.  We started with a complimentary glass of superb champagne and some very tasty canapes. This was followed by the amuse bouche.  We then had the opportunity to go off menu to choose some of the dishes. One of the standouts being the Sea Diver Scallops with chicken and mushrooms.  It was also impossible not to order our last gnocchi, one of the Foliages sublime dishes.  For main course we choose the lamb and an off menu beef dish, the wine selection chosen to go with this was absolutely stunning. Indeed all the wines selections were off a very high standard.  I especially enjoyed the Trocken Beerenauslese, Nittaus, 2004 dessert wine.


The ever attentive staff were on hand to bring us up to date on the progess being made to complete the Daniel Boulud Restaurant (Bar Boulud)  in the basement, due to open in May, and the Heston Blumental Restaurant which would be the Foliage replacement, due to open towards the end of this year.  It is just a shame that a such a fine restaurant is closing prematurely to make way for these changes. It was good to see the Head Chef Alex Marks come out of the kitchen to talk to some of the regular dinners, where he received some direct praise for his teams work over the years.  It was also a nice touch to be presented with a copy of the menu signed by members of staff as a memento. 

So it’s a fond fairwell to the Foliage. We and the other regulars will miss you.

See also Post – Fairwell to Chris Staines

Marks out of 10

Food 8.5

Service 9

Ambience 8.5

UPDATE : January 2011 – Alex Marks in now the head chef at Maze.

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The Foliage without Chris Staines

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Felt a bit odd returning to the Foliage our favorite restaurant following the regime change.  Alex Marks is now the Head Chef, he was Chris Staines Sous chef for a couple of years and had formally worked at The Square. The menu still retains a number of Chris’s dishes, and a few new ones from Alex. One of Alexs’ dishes the gnocchi was a particular success, which although it contained  no meat, seemed to deliver the essence of Sunday lunch.

The new Heston Blumental restaurant is yet to be named and is due to open in October 2010 with perhaps as many as 200 covers. Time will tell if all these changes are for the best. One thing is for sure is that we will miss Chris Staines and the Foliage once it goes for good. I just hope the staff are kept on under the new regime as Heston would be unwise to lose the talent in the kitchen and front of house.

Marks out of 10

Food 7.8

Service 8

Ambience 7

LOCATION INFORMATION

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