MAIA Restaurant, Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge – Review

Peter Morrell and his wife are highly impressed with this Italian restaurant, ideally positioned just steps away from Harrods

This restaurant is the namesake of my elder granddaughter Maia and it’s located in the street when my wife’s grandmother was born. With these two family connections, we thought that a ghost from the past may appear. Nothing happened, but we did learn one universal truth, Maia serves lovely food, in sophisticated surroundings and has one of the friendliest service teams in London.

Maia is probably the most conveniently situated restaurant near Harrods, ideally placed to fortify yourself before the onslaught on your credit card or to recover after an intensive session of retail therapy. The restaurant is open from 10:30 am (10:00 at the weekend) so it’s perfect for an early coffee and pastry or eggs benedict, a sustaining brunch, relaxing afternoon tea or leisurely dinner.

My wife and I recently had dinner at Maia which sits on a prominent corner site with floor to ceiling, double aspect windows. After a very friendly greeting, we were soon settled at our table enjoying the laid back vibe of the music from the DJ and admiring the décor of classic sixties style images and geometric patterns mixed with 21st-century mood lighting.

We looked at the menu while nibbling a good selection of breads, including sticks, Sardinian carasau and a very light homemade focaccia.

The dinner menu is split into starters, pasta, mains, salads and sandwiches, and an intriguing section for the very health conscious, two dishes designed in collaboration with wellness advocate Francesca Giacomini’s, who has devised ‘The Method’.

Starters included burrata with datterino tomatoes and beef carpaccio, our final choices were crispy calamari and bresaola. The squid was tender with a light batter and served with slices of jalapeño and a tangy spiced mayo which had a good, piquant kick. The beef had lots of flavour and was garnished with a courgette carpaccio marinated in mint and lime which introduced a very bright dimension. Both of these dishes were generous and well presented.

We dithered over the choice of mains, the pastas looked attractive as did the avocado and crab served on toasted gluten-free brown bread from The ‘Method’ menu. My wife chose the chicken Milanese with a side of fries and I had the Maia signature beef burger.

The chicken was a thinly beaten large breast in breadcrumbs, the meat was moist and tender and worked well with the crunch of the coating. My burger was juicy and pink with lots of good flavour, it was served with tomato, cheddar and turkey bacon in a pillowy brioche bun. We both enjoyed the food a lot, but the sensation was the triple cooked fries. These were puffed up and delicately crispy on the outside with a yielding, floury centre.

The drinks list is comprehensive, featuring a lot of speciality juices devised by Francesca Giacomini. For wine lovers, the list is predominantly Italian. My wife had the Collio Sauvignon Blanc by Marco Felluga for both courses. The wine had good elderberry flower aromas in the bouquet which were joined by fresh herbs on the palate, the lively acidity worked well with the food. I paired my starter with the Fiulot Barbera d’Asti made by Prunotto. Raspberries on the nose were joined by notes of cherry and spice in the mouth. The match with the burger was Il Bruciato, it was cabernet sauvignon dominant with added merlot and syrah. This was a big gun with blackberries and dark stone fruit in the bouquet. On the palate there was a commotion of tastes with abundant spices, vanilla, chocolate and leather. The well-structured tannins made it silky smooth and left a long persistent finish.

We found just enough space for dessert. From a good list of temptations we indulged by sharing tiramisu and cannoli, they were both rich and creamy. They were made even more decadent with the addition of an aged grappa and an espresso martini made by top mixologist Richard Woods.

Dinner at Maia was an object lesson in how to cook and serve modern Italian food properly. With Michelin-trained Head Chef, Mauro di Leo directing the kitchen, the on-trend décor and high level of service from the front of house team it’s no surprise that the restaurant is popular from morning ’til night.

32 – 34 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, SW1X0LZ

020 7222 6000