Pain is something that’s very difficult to describe. Many years ago I got a filling and decided to have it done without anaesthetic. My thinking was that the pain of a dentist drilling into my teeth would remind me to brush my teeth so I wouldn’t need another one (plus it wasn’t a deep filling so I was assured it wouldn’t be too bad). It was, perhaps predictably, very painful. I remember realising at the time why torturers liked drilling holes in teeth as the pain was excruciating and there was no escape from it. But trying to describe that pain – what it felt like – to someone else proved particularly difficult. No amount of description could really do justice to the sound and sensation of the drilling and the electric shock-like shooting pains that you just couldn’t prepare yourself for.
And it’s exactly the same with the other end of the spectrum describing intense pleasure. Like, for example, eating an amazing meal.
This weekend to celebrate my birthday, my brother’s birthday and our anniversary, my good lady, brother and I went to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Restaurant in Grosvenor Square, London (England) for dinner. We’d given my brother a voucher for Christmas to go for a meal there and he reported afterwards that the whole experience was superb and the food was sublime so it was time to find out for ourselves if that was the case.
The first thing to note is that while the restaurant may bear Gordon Ramsay’s name, the executive chef is Jason Atherton so really the menu is designed, selected and created by him. Anybody who follows the world of chefs knows that Jason (a Michelin star chef) is straight out of the top drawer, and the fact that he’s a Yorkshireman makes him even better since that’s where I live!
Anyway, the restaurant itself was beautifully decorated, a real quality look without feeling overly posh (i.e. I didn’t feel completely out of place!). The service was probably the best I’ve ever experienced. Having been a waiter myself during my student days I can appreciate a slick operation when I see it and at the Maze they were like a well oiled machine. You never even thought about topping up your glass as it was perpetually filled, the food seemed to appear and disappear, we never felt like we were being hurried out at the end and there was none of this spending 15 minutes trying to attract someone’s attention to pay the bill!
And so to the food. This is where it gets tricky to articulate. We all went for the set 7 course meal where you had a choice of a couple of options on 3 of the courses. Each course was small, beautifully presented (like pieces of art on a plate), the ingredients were all top quality and the flavours were out of this world! Each course seemed to complement the previous one and we kept marvelling at how ingredients were put together in unexpected ways to create a taste sensation. Heck, one of the courses had mini shepherd’s pie and I’ve never tasted one like that in my life!
We quickly lost count of how many courses we’d had and how many were left. It was like eating the most amazing tapas one dish at a time and soon enough we got to the dessert (which I really should have taken a picture of) and our culinary adventure was over. As is always the case with tapas-style food I felt I could have eaten more but when I stood up later I realised I’d actually had enough.
Overall the experience was fantastic. The ambiance, the service and the wine were all tip top. But the food was indescribably good. It wasn’t like eating a meal, it was more like being injected with a cocktail of pure class A drugs. No wait, that’s a terrible analogy! Let me try that again… It wasn’t like eating a meal, it was like… Eh… You see, it’s not easy to describe what it was like, nothing I could say would do it proper justice. Let’s just stick with a single word – divine. If you find yourself tempted to go to one of Ramsay’s restaurants but think “that’s a lot of money”, I can assure you it was worth every penny!