Sheathed in a large glass-encased enclave within the densely-trafficked Pavilion mall, Maison oozes cosmopolitan charm.
The eatery is casual yet effortlessly sophisticated, with attentive, smiley wait staff adding to its allure. The entrance is marked by a large display case, showcasing a wide array of house-made pastries and desserts, an entrancing selection that encompasses everything from scones and macarons to cheesecakes, pralines and freshly-baked croissants.
“We are trying to give a selection of food that is reflective of an upscale casual European-inspired bistro. So we’re leaning more towards pastry and have a lot of a la carte desserts and a good selection for high-tea,” says Frederico Michieletto, the executive chef at Maison.
In keeping with its European spirit, the eatery also carries a range of seasonal specials. “Next month, we will have truffles, and maybe some good seafood like seabass from Europe and veal. For the desserts, we might do a rhubarb tart – it all depends on the market,” says Michieletto.
There’s plenty to tempt the palate at Maison, but you would do well to begin with a familiar favourite like the portobello mushroom soup (RM25). The concoction is dotted with a dab of truffle cream and is rich and incredibly thick, more a gravy than a soup. The flavours of the mushrooms are pronounced and this woody fluidity is underscored by the opulence of the truffle cream, which lends added sumptuousness to this delightful offering.
For something unquestionably light, try the pear and brie salad (RM29.50) which combines Asian pear, baby spinach, walnuts and thin slices of brie cheese with a vinaigrette dressing. Here, you’ll find triumphant spikes of pleasure in the crunchy fresh pear interspersed with creamy brie, fresh spinach and knobbly bits of walnut, in an overall meal that speaks volumes about the power of inspired pairings.
But perhaps a more revelatory salad can be found in the incredibly inventive yuzu sorbet salad (RM35). A sorbet isn’t something you would traditionally expect to find smack dab in the middle of salad ingredients, but this ice-cold addition proves that sometimes it pays to wander into the unknown. In this iteration, the fresh, citrusy sorbet does a remarkable job of breathing new life into a regular cast of salad characters, lending an invigorating characteristic that is likely to find fans in diners of every stripe.
If you’re after something heartier, definitely opt for the seafood aglio olio (RM34.50), which is stuffed to the gills with prawns, mussels, squid and fish. This interpretation incorporates the use of kaffir lime leaves, which has the effect of imbuing the dish with a fresh, herbaceous underbelly.
Next up is the braised beef cheeks (RM83), which are cooked in red Bordelaise sauce and served with mashed carrots and potatoes. While the beef sounds nice in theory, it doesn’t quite live up to expectation in reality, as the flavours are lacklustre and pedestrian.
Thankfully, the seasonal special of lobster pasta (seasonal price) delivers bucketfuls of flavour. A rich, tomato-infused sauce coats the giant lobster on the plate, as well as the angel-haired pasta that accompanies it. The lobster is cooked perfectly and this is reflected in the voluptuous, tender tufts of lobster meat that you will find yourself greedily polishing off in no time.
The current superstar on the menu is the seasonal special of Japanese A5 wagyu beef (seasonal price). The A5 is the Ferrari of wagyu beef, considered the highest quality beef of its kind (it has the highest marbling grade), and this is reflected in the meat, which is flecked with fat and has a delightfully malleable melt-in-the-mouth quality that basically means minimal mastication is required. The red wine sauce that accompanies it is the perfect sidekick to a world-class superhero and ably complements the meat with a rich, alcoholic undercurrent.
Although the savoury items on the menu can certainly hold their own, the desserts are – without a doubt – Maison’s trump card.
“The pastry scene in Malaysia is growing a lot. We have a lot of casual dining places to represent dessert and cakes. But we’re kind of missing dessert bars, and I wanted to incorporate this. So I asked the team to come up with homemade sorbets and pastry.
“These are the kinds of desserts you normally have to go to very upscale fine-dining restaurants to eat and they’re priced quite high. So we downscaled a bit but present them very nicely, and this gives people the choice of coming here just for desserts,” says Michieletto.
It is obvious that the plated desserts are a particular point of pride at Maison, and rightly so. Each one is made to order and arrives at the table looking so beautiful, that even the most Instagram-averse diner will find themselves whipping out their phones to take pictures.
Start your dessert adventure with the triple fruit sorbet (RM36), which Maison’s pastry chef Rachel Koh designed to resemble a traffic light. The trio consists of apple, mango and raspberry sorbets on a bed of lavender soil and raspberry jelly. The sorbets are cold, luscious delights, each one bursting with fruity connotations designed to delight the senses (and oh, how they do!).
Then there is the euphoric tiramisu tesoro (RM32) which combines mascarpone cream and espresso with Kahlua gelato. This is quite possibly the best tiramisu I’ve had on the local front. The textures and flavours are decadent and omnipresent – mascarpone and coffee woven together with an alcohol-laced gelato, all designed to whisk you away to a dreamy, magical faraway place.
After that tiramisu, you’ll find yourself reluctant to leave, searching for a reason to linger. And you’ll find it in the Amaretto affogato (RM20) a coffee cocktail that combines amaretto, espresso and vanilla ice cream. Once you’ve dunked the hot espresso and Amaretto on top of the ice cream, tip your spoon in and enjoy this coffee-coated, alcohol-enhanced drink that is guaranteed to knock your socks off.
In many ways, a meal at Maison is much like the eatery itself – casual but sophisticated, sleek but charming, with ingenuity evident everywhere.
Level 2, Pavilion KL
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2148 8999
Open daily: 10am to 10pm