Bold Street, L1 4HF
Review by Natasha Young
At the risk of sounding corny, the saying ‘good things come in small packages’ springs to mind during a visit to Maray.
Stepping inside from bustling Bold Street the interior may be compact but it’s cool and cosy, with dim lighting providing the right setting for an autumnal take on its small plates and cocktails.
When my dining partner and I called in, the eatery was busy and atmospheric in that typical Bold Street way. Nevertheless, we were quickly ushered to a table for two by a friendly member of staff who advised us on the menu. Choose three small plates each, or five and a couple of sides between the two of us if planning on sharing, she recommended.
I sipped the cocktail special – the ‘Hotline Bling’ (£7) – as we narrowed down the widely tempting raw, meat, vegetable and fish-based small plates selection. The sweet and fruity concoction of rhubarb infused gin, mint, lime, Yuzu liquer, apple and lime bitters made me optimistic about the feast ahead.
We decided to share the beetroot and gin cured trout with pickled cucumber, crème fraiche and crostini (£6.50); roast roots with cardamom yogurt, toasted almonds and green chilli sauce (£5.50); deep fried chillies and whitebait (£5.50); and from the ‘on the side’ and ‘snack’ sections, the sweet potato wedges with tahini and balsamic reduction (£3.80) and hummus and Baba Ganoush with flatbread (£3.50).
I also picked confit duck rillete with raz el hanout chutney (£6.50) and my dinner date chose the rare breed Edge & Sons ribeye with Baghdad butter and burnt onion puree (£9.50).
With dishes arriving as and when they were ready, along with a pot of deep fried olives – a tasty, crunchy twist on the traditional appetiser – we scrambled to make space for the array of food.
Pomegranate seeds added bite and an extra seasonal touch to the refreshing yet smoky Baba Ganoush, which my partner and I later declared a highlight of the meal.
Meanwhile the trout was in keeping with autumn, as the beetroot brought a burst of colour to the beautiful sushi-like yet unusual dish.
The confit duck rillete arrived tender and generously packed into a jar, confirming that whilst specialising in ‘small plates’, Maray doesn’t scrimp on portions. The cold meat was warmed by the chutney, which tasted festively rich in spices and fruitiness.
As further plates took over a nearby shelf it became clear that five dishes and two sides was, in fact, a hefty meal for two but we were keen to try everything.
The sweet potato wedges were huge and deliciously cooked and it was pleasing to see the vegetable remaining fresh and nutritious – too often are sweet potatoes served as overly crispy fries covered in salt, pretty much cancelling out the goodness.
The whitebait – a daunting looking bowl of tiny fish – packed a moreish flavour and texture and was easy and enjoyable to eat.
For my dinner date, the ribeye was another hit as it was cooked to perfection, and I found the sweetness of my delicious cocktail complemented the seasonal spices and ingredients throughout the meal.
Satisfyingly full, we agreed to look at the dessert menu – purely for research purposes, of course – and I found the idea of Aperol Spritz jelly with crunchy bits and fruit (£6) irresistible. Maray had turned my favourite cocktail drink into a dish!
With staff in agreement that it was a highlight of the menu, backing me in my decision, the dessert didn’t disappoint and was a stand-out point of the evening for me.
Meanwhile my dinner date was pleased he had somehow found room for a delicious panna cotta in a last minute decision.
The desserts brought a sweet end to a night of dishes which may have been labelled ‘small’ but were mighty in flavour and substance. Maray stands out with its variety and well-cooked fresh ingredients and we’d be happy to return again and again. Although we’d maybe order less next time!