Maze by Gordon Ramsay *

French cuisine with Asian influences at Maze, Gordon Ramsay

History and Background:

One Michelin Star

Gordon Ramsay restaurants are no strangers to the restaurant scene.  Thirteen restaurants in London under is belt, but are all of them worthy of praise? Having been to a few, York and Albany, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, ( and see Savoy Grill, Gordon Ramsay review here), I find that each restaurant is as different as it can be, to the next. I came to Maze with thefoodforker almost 2 years ago and have not been impressed enough by it to return. Bluntly sounding, Maze by Gordon Ramsay isn’t one that I would recommend if you’re looking for top notch good food. Nevertheless, it is under the reputable Ramsay name, and their mains are cheaper in comparison to its brothers.

There is a sushi bar incorporated into the restaurant since Autumn 2012, and along with every dish served, there is an Asian twist to it. This restaurant combines the french with the far east.

The meal:

Prices are not included in some pictures, since this was a set meal. Previously at what was a steal for £25 for 4 courses, it now has a similar deal – £33 for 4 courses. Please see website for details: http://www.gordonramsay.com/maze/menus/

Sea Bream, enoki mushroom, dashi, ginger £13.50
Neatly presented in classic French fashion, the Sea Bream
The meat wasn’t very tender, and actually quite dry.

Portions were small and very average and It’s fair to say that Maze lived up to what you would call the Michelin stereotype, typically small portions for a hefty price. Thankfully this was a set meal for £25.00, totaling £30.00 for service charge, but I would have rather spent that £30 elsewhere in a more casual setting.

Probably one of my favourite from this meal, Bok Choi was lacking in quantity. My mum cooks better Bok Choi than Maze… #eatwithmum
Strawberry shortcake
Vanilla ice-icream, honey glazed banana and a whole lot of chocolate elegantly grouped together.

Service: All french waiters with lovely accents to better incorporate the french theme. 12.5% service charge

The bits and bobs:

  • Coat room service
  • Private rooms available
  • Tasting menus available

Maze on Urbanspoon

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Price: ££

Flat Iron

So everyone’s talking about Flat Iron, what do you think?

History and Background:

Situated on the edge of Soho – or what I just call Oxford Street. Opened for a few years, word of this place had never really gotten around as it had started as a pop-up, but now with solid ground and having gone permanent, the food has been the talk of town. If you want great steak and at affordable prices, Flat Iron is the place to go to. Queuing to get in is part of the experience, as they have a ‘no reservations’ policy, queues can be an hour long, but don’t worry it’s worth the wait (see ‘the bits and bobs’ below).

They have a few branches. Soho, Covent Garden, Shoreditch.

The meal:

The menu is kept simple. There is the signature flat iron steak for £10.00, and off the menu specials such as Wagyu Beef for £18.00. These are random and may run out by the time you come in the evening, so be sure to head out early if you’re looking for something other than Flat Iron.

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A little something given to you when you’re sat down at the table
Wagyu Beef served with house leaf salad for £18.00
Flat Iron Steak with house leaf salad £10.00

Sides are an extra to the bill:

  1. Dripping cooked chips – £2.50
  2. Creamed spinach – £3.00 (highly recommended)
  3. Market Greens £2.50
  4. Sophie’s salad – £3.50 (Blue Cheese, Candied Pacans, Lemon Dressing)
  5. Roast Aubergene £3.50 (Tomato, Basil and Parmesan)

Sauces are £1.00 extra.

  1. Bernaise
  2. Fresh Horseradish Cream
  3. Peppercorn
  4. Fred’s Sauce
Fresh and succulent. Pity it was actually quite warm by the time we ate it… we took time taking photos.
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Roasted Aubergine was top notch. I would definitely order this one.
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Nat, Kathy and Mel were my lucky lucky eating companions that day.
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Simply picturesque…

Service: Food came quick, the staff were always cheerful. There was a guy who greeted us upon arrival who had a purple beard. Very trendy staff.

The bits and bobs:

  • If you choose to wait you can be given something that buzzes when your table is ready while you nip down to a local pub
  • Go on a Sunday, or go at opening time at 12pm. No queue and plenty of seats
  • Flat Iron operates on a table sharing system – since the restaurant layout is set in long tables
  • There’s actually a dessert menu if you ask. We didn’t.

Price: £

Flat Iron on Urbanspoon

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Kyoto Sushi

Good sushi, reasonably priced ran by Koreans in Soho

History and Background:

Whilst there’s not much I can find about its owners, Kyoto is known for excellent quality and value for money. This restaurant can easily be missed when you’re passing by Romilly Street. Its plain external decor acts a facade to the intimate and homely interior. The food is predominantly Japanese, but there are some Korean dishes that have been subtly integrated into its menu.

The meal:

Chicken Katsu Curry Udon £9.80
Champong Udon £9.50
Philadelphia Roll £9.80
Large portions at Kyoto
Tony’s very spicy Ramen dish!
Tuna Salmon Mix Plate £15.20
A very healthy fish to rice ratio
I just can’t get enough of sushi..

Highly recommended if you want to eat sushi at a good price, the udon is also a worthy spend, but I wasn’t sure about katsu udon combination. Neverthless, tempura udon with its flavourful soup base is also a must try. Especially if you’re order sushi…

Crab meat, avocado, seared salmon, philadelphia cheese, salmon roe, tobiko
Dragon Roll £9.80
Tempura Udon £9.50
Ebiten Maki £6.90 Soft shell crab Maki £8.50

The service: The restaurant is small, and intimate, the waiters are attentive. You can argue that the menu is deceptively cheap, but there’s a pricey service charge. Possibly 20%.

Bits and bobs:

  • You don’t really need to book, I’ve never booked

Price: ££

Kyoto on Urbanspoon

La Gelateria

Enough said
Genuine tastes – and there’s matcha ice-cream!
Cosy interior in the heart of Covent Garden

History and Background:

London’s finest artisan gelato they say. Unsurpassing quality and genuine craftmanship they say. “London’s best gelato.” Doesn’t this sound familiar?  Haven’t we heard this before? There’s Gelupo, there’s Odonno…Well, La Gelateria aren’t wrong. Numerous accolades and awards have been given to what is one of the most authentic artison gelatos out there. And they are rightfully proud of it too.

Freshness and quality comes under their core values, produced daily using seasonal ingredients to create the most unique flavours. This is something that sets La Gelateria apart – its flavours. Like Gelupo, these gelatos are 100% natural, packed with flavour and low in fat.

Desserts:

3 scoops £4.00
You can see it all in the texture, so finely made..
Hazelnut and salted caramel ice-cream
  1. Honey, rosemary and orange zests flavour has been voted as London’s best
  2. Basil and chili – London’s best and UK top 50
  3. Salty caramel (a crowd’s favourite)
  4. Porcini chocolate cream
  5. Cornish blue and walnuts
  6. Vanilla mananara
  7. Sicilian pistachio (my favourite!)

There are always a few not on the main website – such as matcha, black sesame, or tiramisu.

Honey and Rosemary, Black Sesame, a true assortment of flavours!
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Mel & Nat chose the salted caramel!

Service: N/A – self service

Bits and bobs:

  • Avoid at peak times
  • You can try flavours before choosing them
  • 2 scoops is enough! Don’t take 3 like I did!

Price: £

La Gelatiera on Urbanspoon

Princi

Princi
A crowd favourite. The Princi Tiramisu

History and Background:

A casual yet bustling setting, Princi has been around since 2008, its huge windows and sleek marble design accentuates the classiness of Milanese cuisine. A popular bakery chain founded by Alan Yau (my idol) – it has been a popular choice for quick eats, post theatre meals or long due meet-ups.

Cakes, savoury pasties, salads, pizzas, pastas, it has everything Italian, not to mention, a wide variety of cocktails, alcoholic beverages and tea.

This review is based on its sweeter delicacies, tarts, cheesecakes, éclairs and patisserie. It is open late most nights, and early enough for brunch, if you ever run out of ideas or want a quick bite, you know where to go.

Desserts:

Fresh mint tea (for 2): £2.20

The fresh mint tea is good, served with honey. Pretty soothing and detoxifying especially after a heavy dinner, and perfect to compliment with desserts. Below I think we have a raspberry patisserie – not bad, but nothing special, a bit too creamy and maybe too much gelatine in the middle layer.

Princi
Seasonal desserts £4.80
Tiramisu £4.80

Savoiardi biscuit soaked in coffee with mascarpone – the tiramisu is everyone’s favourite. I had a bite of this (this was ordered by Amy) and indeed it was enriching and flavourful, certainly worth the praise. The passionfruit cheesecake was well received too by Poyee and I, ground digestive biscuit and cream cheese topped in passion fruit jelly. What a bite.

Princi
Passionfruit cheesecake £4.80
Lemon Meringue £4.80

This is my favourite. Lemon Meringue may not be it’s given name, but you get the gist. Lemon cheesecakes or lemon tarts – or anything lemon is right up my street. The pastry was crispy yet crumbly, served with the fresh scent of lemon and the sweetness of the meringue completely satisfied my sugary cravings.

Small custard croissants £2.80

Service: Counter service is good, pretty fast pace

Bits and bobs:

  • Expect a queue but it goes down quickly
  • No booking and its a communal eating area – similar to a canteen
  • If you like people watching, sit by the windows, you stare right out to the street.

Price: £

Princi on Urbanspoon

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Gelupo

Gelupo
Biscuits, cakes, gelatos
Gelupo Gelateria
Gelupo Gelateria with Fia and Louise

History and Background:

Opened in 2010. Owned by the same person who runs Bocca Di Lupo across the road, is a gelateria that claims to be London’s finest. Jacob Kennedy uses Italian and British ingredients to produce the creamiest, most dense ice-cream you can encounter in London. As one of the youngest chefs in the UK, (alongside the other young ‘uns… Sellers, Doherty…)  he has achieved remarkable success with Gelupo, having acclaim many awards for the quality of its gelatos.

Desserts: 

A large £6.00 can be up to 4 scoops
Toni's Gelato
(Second visit) Toni’s hazelnut and pineapple Gelato.

Having tasted many pistachio ice-creams in the past, (due to my inability to try anything new), I find it very easy to differentiate between a good pistachio gelato and a bad one, and I can say without a doubt, Gelupo has the best gelato in town.

Pisatchio and Hazelnut
I will try and vary next time… it’s pistachio again.
An assortment of flavours. Small £4, Regular £5
A regular guest on eatwithsteph
A regular guest on eatwithsteph. Doesn’t she look greedy
They sell a range of authentic Italian goods.

Post updated with another visit…

Gelato (1 of 4)
Hazelnut, Blood Orange

Gelato (2 of 4)

Gelato (3 of 4)
When someone enjoys there Gelato…
Gelato (4 of 4)
They look like this

Service: Good. Minimal since its a gelateria and not a restaurant, but the staff are nice and they very willingly give you free spoon try-outs of flavours.

Bits and bobs:

  • Avoid long queues during peak hours
  • Late openings, so ideal for post-theater or dinner trips
  • the tissue they have is non-existent. It’s like paper, might be better to bring your own.

Price: £

Gelupo on Urbanspoon

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Amorino

Just not any ice-cream, it’s Amorino ice-cream. One of London’s most popular gelateria

History and Background:

We all know Amorino. We’ve all been. 58 shops across the globe, 7 in Germany, 4 in the UK, 2 in London. Founded in 2002 by Benassi and Sereni. I can go on about its history etc. but it would bore you. What I can say is that they do ice cream macarons, waffles, crepes, milkshakes… the list goes on.

Waffles are a tad average, the crepes are thin, but compensated with oozy nutella/ chocolate sauce. Gelatos are enriching and smooth, and texture so fine, you can taste bits of nuts in it (talking about the pistachio flavour that is).

There’s not much variety in my photos below since I favour Pistachio…and  arguably there are better Gelatos and waffles around, namely Gelupo, La Gelateria, or Wafflemeister. But despite the competition, Amorino remains to be one of the most sought out dessert places in town.

Desserts:

Covent Garden branch:

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Pistachio everywhere! Pistachio gelato, and Pistachio macaron. Small £3.50
My mouth is dribbling already. Poyee’s ice-cream with crepe £5.50

 

Kinhoe’s Hazelnut and Chocolate, and a Pistachio ice-cream macaron! Regular £4.50

And from the Soho branch:

An assortment of ice-cream macarons. £1.50 each (£1.80 to eat-in)
Everyone’s favourite nutella sauce – Vanessa’s option
Yeah its one crepe…with 3 different angles
Soho branch is definitely a favourite.

Service: It’s a gelateria, so service is minimal, but of course there is sit-in charge. Soho is a smaller entity, larger queues, avoid it at peak times.

Price: £