Restaurant Review: Maze by Gordon Ramsay (revisited)

Location: Level 1, Crown Metropol Corner of Whiteman and Clarendon Streets
Phone: +61 (0)3 9292 8300
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Overall Impression: 8.5/10

To read our review of our first visit to Maze, click here.

As you can tell from the pictures we took during our second visit to Maze, they have taken mood lighting a bit too far. This time the booking was for 7.30pm and the whole restaurant was already incredibly dark when we arrived. There was barely sufficient lighting to read the menu and wine list. I can see how this would be a problem for older guests.
Speaking of the wine list, if you look through it, you will see a variety of bottom range French wines that have been ridiculously marked up. We both recalled seeing a few of these bottles during our travels around Europe and even when the dollar was not as strong as it is today, those bottles would have costs about 10AUD. On the wine list however, they had been marked up to $66. There was a mere sprinkling of Australian wines on offer and that is nothing less than disappointing. It appears to be an attempt to prey on unsuspecting diners. We have noticed this unwelcomed trend in the fine dining scene lately. It first came to our attention during our second visit to Vue De Monde (the first time, the wine list was excellent). It appears that other restaurants have caught on to this money-making gimmick. Maze is unfortunately not an exception. That said, the wine list also included wines in the $1000 bracket etc, and these are marked up by 300% (which unfortunately, appears to be the norm in Melbourne's fine dining scene).

The dining experience, similar to our last visit, was exceptional. With Maze bidding Josh Emett a fond farewell, we wondered if John Lawson being the new person in charge would change the style of the offerings. In our view, the style and execution has not changed.  
Almost every dish was executed perfectly, balanced and delicious.

The only dish that was slightly disappointing was the Crispy roast pork belly. The pork belly skin was unfortunately chewy and the broth that it came with was a bit too salty. Highlights of the meal included the delicious whiting, the amazing veal and the very good foie gras.
The following is the degustation menu we partook in.

Marinated beetroot with goats curd,
Cabernet Sauvignon vinaigrette, toasted pine nuts

Seared yellow fin tuna
white radish, yuzu, enoki mushrooms, black garlic

Foie gras and chicken liver parfait
Madeira, mulberries, toasted sourdough

Marlborough King Salmon
Jerusalem artichoke, mustard, horseradish cream

King George whiting
smoked paprika brandade, black olive

Crispy roast pork belly
calvalo nero, soybeans, dashi

Gisborne duck leg
sweet corn, cracked wheat, fig jam

Cape Grim short rib
potato, shimeji mushrooms, shallot gastric

Exotic fruit vacherin passion fruit and banana sorbet (picture from last visit)
Chocolate ganache salted caramel, hazelnut ice cream

The degustation sets you back $120 per person for 7 courses, which is more than fair for a restaurant of its calibre. The casual take on fine dining means that sharing dishes are encouraged so you could very well share more than 7 different courses between a couple if you each choose different courses from the degustation menu options. That said, this casual take also means that the service provided is such that patrons are not made to feel special. Personally, we loved that we were left alone but we can see how this could be seen as a lack of attentiveness on part of the wait staff.
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