Located opposite Harrods, Maia is a calming yet vibrant respite from the hurriedness of Knightsbridge.
The name Maia itself is just fun to say – bouncy, pretty and elegant; these adjectives apply to the restaurant too.
I visited on a Saturday evening with my old friend B and it felt as if the elements were against me. First, the Piccadilly Line was down, and as I waited to switch at Green Park station it felt as if a train would never arrive, and I was trapped immobile in a crowd of hungry, considerably taller commuters at 7:00pm.
What a lovely contrast it was then to enter Maia, where one’s well-being feels enhanced upon entrance. The service was warm, friendly and relaxed and I was shown to my waiting friend B who was already seated.
I was however, somewhat surprised to see that she was not alone as next to her was a big red bear seated on one of the very comfortable chairs.
They are apparently for people who dine alone, of which there were a couple when we visited – a thoughtful and innovative touch for a restaurant located so close to Harrods.
In the midst of London, particularly Knightsbridge, such a thoughtful touch does not go unnoticed. It provided a pleasing contrast to the often-corporate feeling its neighbour Harrods offers.
There is something classically chic about Maia’s interior; it is refined and the floor to ceiling windows afford views over the beautiful Hans Crescent.
The burrata on the menu instantly caught my eye, and as the waiter recommended it, it felt foolish not to try it. As B was keen to try the calamari, the choice became clear. Calamari is a popular choice in many Italian restaurants but a common peeve I have is that it is often too fried, and one can only taste the batter. Maia has remedied this issue with style, and also ended my lifelong hatred of mayo as the spicy mayo and jalapeno that accompanied it were delightful.
Paired with the creamy flavourful burrata, which was dotted with fresh green pesto and basil, the quality and use of fresh ingredients shone through. I never thought eating cheese could feel so healthy, but the taste really derived from how fresh the ingredients were. Simplicity and quality ingredients really do work – that is, I believe, a resounding theme in Maia.
Mono-colour interiors and tasteful geometric prints line the walls of the restaurant, adding to the already spacious feel. It is easily a space where weary shoppers and high-end business discussions alike could feel at home. Service is attentive but not overbearing and wine suggestions were pleasing and thoughtful.
I opted for sea bass for my main which was so simple yet satisfying. Authentic Italian vegetables: aubergines, datterini tomatoes and courgettes, were seasoned with roasted sea salt and local olive oil.
There is something so pleasing about eating a delicious well-prepared meal when it leaves you feeling good after. B, who had the chicken paillard with courgette puree and sweet potato fries, agreed.
I tried a few and was pleasantly surprised at the taste of the sweet potato; the seasoning was obvious; and, like the calamari, the batter was not overpowering.
Throughout the night we were treated to a DJ who played ambient, upbeat music.
Despite being quite full, I could not resist and did not regret indulging in a beautifully presented Tiramisu, served in a pan with powdered chocolate. The description was so attractive it tempted us both, and we concurred it was perfectly tempered tiramisu – measured in its alcohol: chocolate powder: coffee: cream ratio. An impressive if improbable feat.
Maia is style and simplicity combined. Elegance pared-back, but its true style shines through.
Maia, 32-34 Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge, SW1X 0LZ, London, England.
Tel: +44 (0)207 222 6000
Maia is located just a few minutes’ walk from Knightsbridge Tube on the Piccadilly line, directly opposite Harrods. The restaurant is open Monday to Friday from 10:30am to 10:00pm; Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am to 10:00pm.
Type of Restaurant: Italian Restaurant
Price Band: Medium to high
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Maighna Nanu is a London based freelance journalist.
Photographs by Maia and Maighna Nanu