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Curtis Stone's Maude - A True Delight

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Last night Examiner Charles Ryan went to a place we've been dying to try out - Maude. If you haven't heard of this place, get ready for your life to change.

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Located on Beverly Drive (the neighborhood end - not the tourist end), Maude opened this past February and has since focused on one main ingredient per month. What kind of ingredients you ask? Citrus, artichokes, peas, rhubarb, morels and ingredient of July: berries.

To focus on one main ingredient can oftentimes be interpreted as either absolute folly or a recipe for culinary boredom. Last night's berry dinner, however, was anything but boring. And, honestly, the respect shown towards the food (not only the main ingredient - but every element) really shows just how great of a chef Curtis Stone is.

Speaking of the chef: Maude is Curtis' first restaurant. That fact, in and of itself, should give you a reason to pick up the phone and make a reservation. This Australian celebrity chef started his career first in his home country, then under the tutelage of Marco Pierre White in London to became head chef at Quo Vadis, and more recently has appeared on television shows such as Take Home Chef, Top Chef Masters, and Celebrity Apprentice.

In a world where celebrity chefs mean chain restaurants and an almost sterile, formulaic, feel - Maude really stands apart. This small restaurant only holds 25 people. The mood of the place can be described as homey but absolutely curated and cool. Wonderful light fixtures and texture pop throughout the space alongside family touches like a picture frame of Curtis' grandparents which sits proudly on the bar. You really feel very at home and comfortable. Because of it's small size, and the attention paid to each plate that leaves the kitchen as well as every guest: it's a hard place to get a reservation.

Now for the food:

The first course was gazpacho - perfectly appropriate for the summer season. Containing grapes and cucumbers (which are both berries for all of you who didn't know!!!) it was surprisingly savory. A great way to kick things off.

Second course was summer on a plate: lobster with celery ice, and watermelon.

Third course was presented by the chef himself. A wonderful gesture. Hearts of palm, avocados, raspberries, and togarashi.

The octopus in the fourth course was stunning. The texture and flavor took octopus to new heights.

Next came more summer on a plate: onions, blackberries, radicchio.

Sixth course: crepe + truffles = beyond.

Seventh: Squab - not your average pigeon!

And then the sweets:

Delicious donuts: some filled with a berry filling and others with the most delicious banana. Peach Melba. Fresh Berry Tart. There was also a fanciful medley of bite-size desserts and the option for coffee or tea.

The price of the current menu is $85 per person with two options for wine pairings (Examiner Charles Ryan chose the more expensive $115 wine pairing which was definitely the way to go.)

Overall, Maude is an absolutely wonderful dining experience. Sure it may be expensive. But for what you receive, you'll come away feeling like you made the right choice. The food, the staff, the chef, and the other in-the-know diners, make for a true food experience.

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