Launching a new menu at Maize, Kiwi-born chef Jethro Vincent, decided to make things easy for his guests with a revised menu that showcases his passion for Latin flavours and his background in fine dining.
Both are displayed at this pretty garden restaurant in Berawa, and the concept feels like it should be way more expensive than it is. From the street, maize doesn’t give a lot away. Once inside you’re enveloped by greenery on the open-air terrace with pretty lights and a turquoise-tiled bar. The indoor section overlooks the open kitchen for those who love to watch it all unfold.
The concept restaurant gets its name from maize, or corn. Everything is made in-house, including the giant tortilla created from masa they import directly from Mexico. The menu has now been simplified and begins with sharing plates that include an incredible fried pumpkin bread with a lively Chilean salsa and a variety of ceviche that are so well balanced and fresh, you hardly want to share. Portions are generous though, so don’t worry.
Oh, and the amuse bouche served first says everything about what’s to come: Creamy sweet corn croquettes; truffled cheese cigars with bread and butter ash; and grilled baby corn with flavoured salt and spices.
There is a selection of Asada dishes, a choice of grilled pork ribs, lamb rack, wagyu flank or Angus rib eye. A DIY taco menu offers a choice of vegan-friendly and vegetarian fillings like fermented carrot and popcorn cauliflower to delicious seafood fillings like Dutch smoked eel or battered barramundi, or braid short rib and slow-cooked lamb shoulder for the meat eaters.
There are four mains and they’re all seductive, we sampled a wood-fired barramundi that was a favourite. The fish was meltingly soft, the skin crisp and charred and the creamy clam and caper sauce was amazing. The potato terrine is just dangerous. I’d say stay away from this but you absolutely shouldn’t unless you’re a weight watcher!
Next up our choice of Asada was a glazed lamb rack, the sauce was so good we requested a spoon. The other choices include braised beef cheek, soft shell crab and suckling pig terrine with corn miso puree, cascabel chilli and smoked onion jus. Fitting to Latin American cuisine, there are so many varieties of chilli we needed help from our very well-informed waitress.
The Chef has kindly translated the entire menu on the reverse side for those whose Spanish isn’t up to scratch (uh, me!). Each dish is complemented by sides, sauces and salsas that delve deep into authentic Latin American dishes. Mexican-inspired moles show up in various guides, including a sauce on blackened cauliflower or a white mole served over wood-fired cabbage with salted grapes and roasted almonds.
The plating is so picture-perfect that you expect the bill to upset your accountant but in fact, the dishes start at very reasonable prices for this level of cooking. Everything is delicious including the tequila sour from the cocktail menu and the wine selection.
Dessert comes in 5 varieties including the vegan panna cotta we chose – after something to lighten things up after a lot of food. Chef Jethro says not to expect the same consistency as a traditional panna cotta, and it wasn’t, but the addition of a fine strawberry crumble, a sharp yet creamy strawberry sorbet and a vibrant strawberry sauce was a fine way to finish.
Maize is easy to pass, tucked away in a hidden corner of Berawa, yet it should not be overlooked if you’re after a restaurant that will have your tastebuds singing Gloria Estefan songs as you discover the complex flavours that drives the cuisine of Latin America.
Check out what our resident vegetarian had to say about Maize.