Level 1 Crown Metropol Hotel
8 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
+ 61 3 9292 6268
Steak. Who doesn’t love a big, juicy chunk of deliciously rare steak? I’ve had steaks in many restaurants around Melbourne and although I’ve tasted some pretty good ones, I’ve yet to find one that’s made me go LIKE, OMG WOAH! BEST STEAK EVERRRR! When Jan, who has a penchant for celebrity chefs and lunch specials, suggested we go to maze Grill for their $47 three-course lunch, which included steak, I was somewhat reluctant. Earlier this year, I had dinner at maze proper (which shared the same kitchen as Maze Grill) and thought it was good, but not super fantastic. Good enough for me to revisit a maze franchise eventually, yes, but good enough for me to return less than six months down the track? Well, no. So what compelled me to make an online booking for lunch at maze Grill merely five months later? Who knows, but whatever, I’m glad I did it because it was a FREAKIN’ FANTASTIC lunch.
We arrived at the restaurant after a short walk from QV. The hostess, after seeing us stumble into the restaurant looking all sweaty and flustered, led us to a waiting area and poured us some iced water while they got our tables ready for us. With our butts planted firmly onto a cushion, we gratefully drank our water before being told that our tables were ready. We were ushered to a table right by the window where we would bask in the midday sun’s glare and stare at the riveting view of traffic streaming down Clarendon Street. Frankly, I was happier staring at the coat hanger-like light fittings, sleek wooden furniture and fake birdies perched happily on their fake tree branches plastered high on the restaurant’s walls. Knowing that we were here for the set lunch, we didn’t bother studying the menu. I did, however, steal a quick glance at the mains list and thought about ordering the pappardelle bolognaise ($24), but I didn’t.
The effects of the previous night (being surrounded by Collingwood supporters on a euphoric high after a Premiership win required a LOT of alcohol…) meant that I had to say no to a Dr Loosen riesling. Instead, I opted for a glass of iced apple juice whereas teetotaler Jan went for the orange juice.
Our bread landed in a snug, beanie-like canvas basket accompanied by some soft-as-Sorbet toilet paper butter. Okay, not the best simile but whatever. I was hoping to get some of the delicious seaweed butter that we enjoyed at Maze proper but I guess it must have been a Maze proper only thing. Never mind. One bread was just good, simple white bread while the other one was a very lovely rosemary bread which was extremely delicious with generous lashings of butter.
We were given a choice between two entrees for the set lunch. Jan had dibs on the prawn salad (damn her) so that left me with the roasted cauliflower and cumin soup with almonds and raisins, not an ideal starter on such a warm day. Any resentment towards my choice (and no, I could NOT have the same dish as my dining companion if I was ever presented with a choice) disappeared when I tasted the first spoonful of the creamy, flavoursome pool of gold. The cauliflower soup would have been tasty enough on its own, but the addition of cumin seeds to make the soup spicy elevated it to the next level. The almonds were there for a textural balance while the raisins provided a nice but not essential sweetness to the dish.
Jan’s prawn and miso salad with cucumber, edamame and shiso cress. Wow wee, what a dish! It was a refreshing and light salad, yet strangely verging on filling. Full of vivid colours, contrasting textures and jam-packed with fresh flavours, this vivacious salad was a great way to start Spring – after all, we need something bright and colourful to distract us from the drab black and whites that have plagued Melbourne since Collingwood won the big one. The prawns and greens were dressed in only the simplest of dressings that was tangy, nutty and slightly sweet. Again, our friend cumin seed made an appearance if only to add a bit of spice to the salad.
The main course was a grass-fed Savannah pure Angus rib eye from New Zealand (250g) which came with a small tin bucket of chips. Holly guacamole, will you just look at the presentation…! Although I’m a bit over the whole let’s-present-stuff-on-big-chunks-of-wood thing, I must admit that presenting our steak on chopping boards was much more visually-appealing than plonking them on massive white plates. The roasted garlic and rosemary on the top left-hand corner was not only there to make things look pretty but to provide flavour should we so need to. Mmmmm… garlic mash…
Both Jan and I had requested our steaks to be cooked rare but halfway through our lunch, we were told that the kitchen had made a mistake with our steaks and cooked it medium-rare. While we would have been okay with eating med-rare steak, the kitchen was NOT happy with serving our steaks in a manner that was not requested by us… and so they threw our almost-ready steaks out and started cooking new ones. The mistake was communicated to us with full apologies which we both thought was a ‘tick’ in the ‘good service’ category.
These little tubs of sauce (béarnaise and tomato relish) were $3.50 each but we were given these for free for apparently being so nice and understanding about the whole steak thing. And for being so patient with the ‘lazy’ service as they were short-staffed. Score.
The sauces were for the steak but we couldn’t help but dip our textbook-perfect fries into them. Yummo.
Hello, gorgeous! I may have been a maze semi-hater prior to having lunch here but this steak changed my mind. IT WAS A FREAKIN’ FANTASTIC PIECE OF MOO-COW LIKE, USHER OMG WOW! It was so tender, so juicy and so full of flavour. Heck, they could have served it on a paper plate without the roasted garlic and the condiments and I would have been just as happy. Best steak in Melbourne? Big call, but I’m going to say ‘yes.’ For now. Keep in mind that I’ve yet to try a steak from Rockpool, Vlados, France-Soir and all the usual suspects though.
We were both full after the two courses but leaving before dessert would have just been rude. And so we stayed for the chocolate sundae with vanilla ice cream. Reluctantly, of course. When I received my glass of chocolate-y goodness, I was surprised to find that it was invaded by an army of chocolate and pecan brownies. Not that I was complaining. Not being a HUGE fan of chocolate, I did find the dessert a bit on the too-decadent side but it was still delicious nonetheless and well, let’s be frank here, you can never go wrong with vanilla ice cream.
Our lunch at maze Grill received resounding nods of approvals from Jan and I (click here to see Jan’s review). We both applauded the professional and friendly service despite the fact that they were short-staffed and we both loved the food that was so effortlessly sophisticated and tasty. And it goes without saying that the $47 p/h price tag for a lunch this good was akin to finding the perfect dress at a sass & bide warehouse sale at 90% off. Or finding all seven keys in the A*Mazing maze (ahh those were the days). Or bowling a hat trick against the Poms… you get the gist. We will be back. Oh yessssss.