Fine Dining in Your Jeans

New York City is the melting pot of the world. It's also where one can access flavors from around the globe within a mile radius, we all know that. The city offers fine dining and hole in the wall eateries. There's also the casual dining variety- you name it, NYC has it. However, I've never been to an establishment that creates innovative food while catering to the average joe until I visited MAZE by Gordon Ramsay. MAZE By Gordon Ramsay is the less formal version of the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant (both located at The London Hew York). Jackets are not required here, but the chefs and cooks at MAZE certainly still put 100% effort in serving diners with a cutting edge culinary experience. Not only is the food exceptional but the interior is as well.

Guests at MAZE are able to take a glimpse of what it is like in the hotel's rooms because the restaurant carries David Collins' design throughout the dining space as well. Collins' touches of art deco luxe is evident, from the light fixtures to the angular mirrors and even the dinnerware. The luxe design is also visible through the bar and the lounge areas. Stepping into the restaurant takes visitors to an old world elegance, without sacrificing contemporary elements.

The menu at MAZE features French influenced seasonal dishes.The kitchen is headlined by Chef de Cuisine Markus Glocker along Executive Pastry Chef Scott Cioe. After trying the Chef's Five-Course Menu, I immediately knew why Gordon Ramsay brought Markus Glocker to be the restaurant's main chef.

Prior to starting my actual dinner, the chef sent my table a Beet Tartare. The small grub was tangy with a slight sweet taste- a very pleasant way to kickstart my dining experience at MAZE.

I started the Chef's Five-Course Menu with Cream of Caulliflower with Curried Pumpernickel and Parmesan Crisp. Frankly, I don't get excited for soup (unless it's tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich) and I was on the fence when it was served. There was little color in the presentation but after my first taste, I wanted more and I finished the whole thing within minutes. It was life changing. I stared at my empty bowl just wondering how in the world could a soup have such levels of flavors in it. The three ingredients work perfectly together and the parmesan crisp took my already etherial experience further.

The soup was followed by the Asparagus Salad with Burrata, Maitake, Cherry-balsamic Vinegar. I was impressed by how much I could taste each ingredient's own flavor. The cherry in the vinegar and the cream of the burrata highlighted the mushroom and the asparagus. Salads are not really known as soul food but there was something about this particular salad that coated my palete with the same comforting feeling I get when I eat mac and cheese.

The third item on the Chef's Five-Course Menu is the Sea Scallops with Pickled Ramp, Green Garlic and Zucchini. The scallops were cooked to perfection and were savory, sweet and a bit salty. The pickled rams and green garlic were the subtle flavors in the dish.

For the main course, I had a choice of Fluke with Baby Lettuce, Garlic Spaetzle and Grapefruit or Dry Aged Strip Loin with Pommes Anna, Portobello and Spinach. I decided to have the steak. It was, again cooked to perfection; the steak had the right amount of juiciness. As fancy as the plate looked, the taste was quite similar to comfort food. The chef used a classic combination of ingredients: meat, potatoes and greens.

I also had two dessert options: Dark Chocolate Fondant with Green Cardamom Caramel and Salted Almond Ice Cream and Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brown Sugar Crumble and fruits of the Forest Sorbet. At this point, I was starting to feel full and I decided to split the pudding with my guest. But the kitchen crew really wanted me to try both and our waiter arrived to the table with the two dessert dishes and Chocolate Truffles.

When I looked at Sticky Toffee Pudding, I really thought that I wouldn't be able to finish it. I had assumed that it would be too sweet but I was wrong. It wasn't an overly sweet dessert. There were varying levels of sweet in the dish with the pudding the sweeter element of it. The sorbet flavors that accompanied the pudding were basil, saffron and raspberry. To serve the pudding with sorbets was a smart choice as it cleansed the palete.

I found the Dark Chocolate Fondant quite similar to a souffle or a crème brûlée in the way it was presented. When I dug my fork into the fondant, a gooey chocolatey goodness filled the rammekin. It was creamy and moist and rich (both dessert items were). I suggest mixing in the almond ice cream in with the fondant (amazing!).

The Chocolate Truffles were definitely something that one would want to take it slow with. I was genuinely full and couldn't have any more food so I requested to take them home. I did what I always do with chocolate and left it in the freezer overnight. The truffles were bittersweet and velvety. As much as I liked the fondant and the truffles, the pudding won the dessert round.

I also chose to do a wine pairing with the Chef's Five-Course Menu. Carlo, who tended to my table for the evening did a wonderful job with his recommendations. Each wine he picked was essential to the overall taste of the dish, specially the first two that were served before the main course. In addition to the extensive wine list, diners can also enjoy cocktails from the bar. I was able to try one (I forgot what it was called) but I remember that it was a good portion and that it was a bit stronger than I would've prefered.

The Chef's Five Course Menu is $82 per person but it's a great deal for such an excellent dinner.