London on a gilded shoestring – Day 4

It was on a recommendation that we chose to eat at maze on our fourth day in London. The idea was to have lunch, then meet a friend for coffee, and later catch the train to Reading to visit Spencer and Sarah. After reading the address wrongly and finding ourselves in Grosvenor Place, not Grosvenor Square (not quite located next to each other, unfortunately!), we eventually made our way to the restaurant, were seated, and had the menu explained to us.

I quite like the concept of maze. There’s an a la carte menu as well as a tasting menu, where you can select any number of smaller dishes (prices ranging from about £7 to £10) you want to try. We picked four savoury courses and three desserts. The highlight for me would have been the eye-catching desserts – especially the Peanut butter and cherry jam sandwich with salted nuts and cherry sorbet, and the Textures of pear with Chocolate millefeuille. The most interesting savoury dish we had was the B. L. T. : layered tomato jelly and bacon cream in a martini glass with fried bacon and onion rings, and a lettuce veloute that was poured at the table. Nice flavours, though the lettuce veloute was eventually masked by the other stronger flavours as you worked your way down the glass. The spiced Orkney scallops were also very good. I can’t remember what the scattered crunchy bits were, but they were tasty, as was the dark blob of peppered golden raisin puree.

At this point I wish that I could say maze was a-maze-ing, but it wasn’t. It was nicely presented, good food (and quite rich despite the small portions), served in quite a good looking room, but it lacked a little something (in comparison to the other restaurants we visited) that I can’t quite put my finger on. If the service had been warmer, it might also have made that extra bit of difference.

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From Grosvenor Square, it was on to Clapham, and Macaron where we were to meet Donal for coffee. Macaron was also on my list of places to visit, upon recommendation. Perhaps it was because it was a Sunday, but the range of sweets available at this shop was quite small, and later I left feeling a bit disappointed, considering all the hype surrounding this place. (Although, if the hype is more about the £7 loaf on the shelf and the kitschy-but-cool outfits of the waitresses, then I’ve approached this place with the wrong expectations.) Still, we managed to select some pastries to fill a box for Spencer and Sarah – the nicest of which was the caramel eclair.

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The train trip to Reading seemed to take forever. We managed to get on a train that stopped everywhere, but once we reached our destination, Spencer picked us up and it was a quick car ride to their house, where we got to meet the kids (Adam and Thomas) for the first time, and caught up over dinner.

(A quick tip for if you ever find yourself in Reading : apart from the music festival, it is also home to LegoLand!)

Unfortunately we missed the last train home from London Bridge station, and got our first taste of the after-hours public transport system. The system is actually not that bad, if you know what to do and where to go : the night buses come every 10 minutes or so. The frustrating thing was that no one working at the station seemed to know anything… or didn’t care. Either way, we finally rang the phone number on a train brochure (using B’s Sydney based mobile phone) and got some much needed information. Two hours and two buses later, we were home.. slightly frayed around the edges, but home.

10 – 13 Grosvenor Square
London W1K 6JP

22 The Pavement
London SW4 0HY

(There’s a cute version of Macaron’s lemon tart here on Flickr)

Next : Day 5 : Tate Modern, pork pies, a bread machine and an umbrella, Le Gavroche.


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