Near+Far’s best restaurants series explores the very best culinary options in the Middle East, and the world. The series offers top restaurant tips and reviews for those looking for the best restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and the most exciting and beautiful destinations across the world. This time we journey to London to The Maine Mayfair, where a much-loved Dubai-born concept has taken over an atmospheric Mayfair townhouse.
The Maine Mayfair Near+Far Rating: 9/10
Why Book the Maine Mayfair
In Dubai, The Maine is part of an elite circle of restaurants that have stood the test of time, gained the respect of the city’s jet-set and foodie crowd, and is perennially packed, week long. So, when man-about-town owner Joey Ghazal decided to open in London’s Mayfair promising ‘New England Extravagance’, we were all filled with anticipation and curiosity… The result is spectacular – a three-story immersive space in a Grade-II listed Georgian townhouse, tucked away from bustling Hanover Square in a typically London court, (moments from Oxford and Regents’s Street). There’s a distinct members club feeling, thanks to the townhouse setting and bevy of smartly dressed doormen and hostesses guarding the entrance, and guests can choose to dine in five rooms and three floors – with three concepts offering a totally different vibe and taking you from day to night. For a huge dose of Dubai hedonism, a sprinkle of subterranean naughtiness, or even to enjoy the glorious Mayfair sunshine with classic dishes done well – there are few places for elegant, versatile and delightful than The Maine Mayfair.
The Vibe: 8/10
Seductive, elevated, chic, more Dubai than London – and that’s never a bad thing. Despite many different spaces, there’s a similar crowd throughout – polished, well-heeled, with a mix of couples, gaggling groups of friends, and business people. Another welcome Dubai touch is the ability to dress up and not feel overdressed, a growing rarity in London’s sprawl of cool casual eateries filled with New Balance wearers. Diners can make an occasion of dining in The Maine Mayfair – which is truly fabulous.
The Interiors: 9/10
The Maine Mayfair occupies three floors of a historic 18th-century townhouse, delivering four unique concepts which – in typical Dubai style – truly immersive guests in the experience with interiors, vibe and menus to match. Masterminded by Ghazal and London-based designers, Brady Williams, guests will find a charming, foliage-covered outdoor terrace, offering a modern take on a British garden which (if only with all British gardens) is fully covered with rain-proof windows and heaters and offers guests cosy pashminas. Inside, the Drawing Room evokes a feeling of typically British Regency glamour – the original drawing room of the Duke of Montrose reimagined with rich British heritage pieces and a retro mid-century aesthetic, with a low-key nod to the East Coast )think a giant capiz shell chandelier).
Downstairs, however, is where the real fun begins. Tucked within the original vaulted cellars of the house, guests will find a quintessentially British pub-cum- prohibition-style Speakeasy bar known as The Tavern. The powerful, moody aesthetic includes banquettes, fireplaces and cosy corners perfect for intimate rendezvous or a meeting with a paramour. The main attraction is the Brasserie – a tiered, theatre-style dining space reminiscent of a Thirties cabaret club, where every seat in the house is directed towards a stage. Plush red velvet booth seating frames the floor, with bar seating available on the upper tiers, all seats primed for the many live jazz and burlesque performances that delight guests each night. This is a true occasion spot, with a glittering chandelier, Art Deco touches and sultry mood lighting, creating an atmosphere so thick you could cut it.
The Food: 9/10
The Maine Mayfair’s food is simple, crowd-pleasing and done right, inspired by the bounty of produce of New England’s waters. For that chic, after-work vibe, head to the Terrace or Drawing Room, where bright and breezy dishes like steak tartare and shrimp cocktail and small plates like crispy fish tacos are served alongside one of the most enticing happy hours in London – half-priced cocktails and £1 oysters on weekdays from 4-6pm. The Brasserie and Tavern also share the same menu – offering a more elevated, yet still simple and wholesome, menu with a raw bar, hot and cold small plates and hearty ‘Maines’ of meat and seafood. All diners are greeted with a complimentary platter of crusty warm baguette with juicy beef tomatoes and roasted garlic – a generous and distinctly un-London touch – and there’s no better way to begin than with a crisp glass of Champagne and freshly shucked oysters.
Dishes are decadent, with a touch of classic playful Seventies, or old-school American, dining – but couples and groups should opt for a tender piece of meat to share, with a plethora of sides like crispy truffle fries, toasted bone marrow, mac and cheese and Portobello mushrooms – the ultimate in indulgence. The dessert menu is an ode to naughtiness and decadence – and our soft baked cookie is warm and oozing with chocolate (reminiscent of childhood), while the Basque Cheesecake is light and flurry. Opt for the chocolate mousse – complete with chilli and salk flakes – or extra virgin olive oil ice cream with macadamia and pecorino for something really different. Dinner is spiked with excitement, with shows happening throughout the evening, allowing for long, leisurely and hedonistic dining, and it’s easy to while away four hours on a simple dinner for two (we should know; we did..)
The Maine Mayfair has had its share of attention – and in typical Dubai fashion, we believe that all attention is good attention. This is a true ode to the wonders of dining and the magic restaurants can deliver, and the experience they can offer far beyond just a place to eat (though the food is great). There’s the casual spot for an aperitif, the city-leading happy hour, but also the spot to dress up and enjoy life, all while dining on genuinely great fare. The Maine Mayfair feels like falling down a Rabbit Hole, with lots of Wonderlands to be discovered – and we’re already planning our next trip back down.