Gaia London review: Made in Dubai restaurant wows in Mayfair with Mediterranean fare

Skip the deep-fried zucchini tempura as this is all about Greek-style seafood done right

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The fourth Greek-Mediterranean Gaia restaurant opened its doors in December, this time in the heart of London's upmarket Mayfair, and the Dubai import is something of a darling among foodies in the UK capital.

At the crossroads of Dover Street and Piccadilly, and a stone’s throw from the Ritz Hotel, Gaia London has certainly positioned itself for the well-heeled diner. Yet its warm interiors and affable service is more inviting than exclusive.

The brainchild of Fundamental Hospitality Group, Gaia is the company’s first and most successful Made in Dubai concept, with locations already in the UAE, Doha, Monte Carlo and Marbella, with Miami set to follow.

Where to expect and where to sit

Named after the maternal Earth goddess, Gaia exudes the quality, simplicity and warmth of Greek culture. Curated by award-winning British interior design studio First Within, the restaurant blends history and modern design, including neoclassical features, domed arches and Hellenic statues framed by limestone walls and azure blue furnishings.

After stepping into the front foyer to be checked in by hosts, I soon came upon an ice market, fresh fish counter, and traditional wooden oven in quick succession, all of which immediately revved up my appetite.

The venue can seat 160 diners, and I was impressed to see it busy on a Tuesday evening, albeit mostly with stylishly suited men from nearby offices, carrying on their business affairs over fine food.

The dining room is large with an open-plan table layout that almost feels like all the diners have come together, mimicking the experience of a seaside taverna. Indeed, the couple on the table next to mine became so conversational with my dining companion and me that I began to wonder if our dinner for two had become one for four.

Semi-brightly lit with upbeat music and a cacophony of simultaneous conversations, the atmosphere lends itself to a vibrant midweek gathering or a pre-party dinner. With ample staff on hand, the service is fast and attentive, although there were perhaps a few too many servers in my eye line at any one time, making an already busy room look a bit crowded.

The menu

After more than a decade of collaboration, chefs Izu Ani and Orestis Kotefas have composed Gaia’s menu with a nod to the family-orientated culture and varied landscapes of Greece.

Diners would do well to embrace the connective Mediterranean dining experience by sharing dishes, which my guest and I were more than happy to do.

From lobster and prawn pastas to lamb cutlets and rib-eyes, there’s a mouth-watering range of dishes on the menu, but with the Mediterranean on my mind, I crafted my plate à la pescatore.

After being welcomed with a plate of beautifully sourced olives, baby tomatoes, grilled aubergine and Eriki cheese, we went on to sample the velvety smoked cod roe with lemon zest and chives taramasalata for £12 ($15).

This was followed by an exceptional tsipoura (sea bream carpaccio; £44), a raw melt-in-the-mouth delicacy accompanied by three vials of deliciously flavoured dipping oils. Served at a perfectly cool temperature, the sea bream exuded freshness that needed no garnish, although I would not advise missing out on the creamy, tarty and truffle-infused olive oils the dish is served with. Absolute yum.

The astakosalata (lobster salad; £36) was very fresh and pleasant enough, but what I thought would be more of a signature dish fell short of expectations. While some may argue that quality lobster should speak for itself, I found the bowl a little bland. The red onion and light mayo dressing needed something more to enhance the dish's flavours.

Likewise, we were told the tiganito kolokithi (courgette tempura; £18) is a crowd favourite, but I could have done without. It was lots of crunch, but extremely skinny cut with very little taste unless lathered up with the accompanying tzatziki and tomato sauce. I’d rather go for bread and save myself the batter calories.

The second standout dish of choice after the sea bream carpaccio was the freshly grilled sea bass (price per kilo). Having selected it after being advised on the unique quality of each fish available and the appropriate cooking technique, it arrived at our table a succulent and perfectly off-whitish-grey with a tomato-olive trimming and drizzles of olive oil. It had me cooing over flights to Greece before dessert.

Speaking of, with little room left in our tummies to fill, my guest and I shared the filo mille-feuille (£16), which made for a blissfully light vanilla-creamed, pistachio-powdered finale.

Price point and contact information

Appetisers range from £16-£38; vegetarian and meat mains are £32-£230, while seafood is by the kilo; and desserts are between £14 and £30.

Gaia Mayfair is open for lunch from noon to 2.30pm, then for dinner from 6pm. For reservations, contact 0044 20 3961 0000 or reservations@gaia-london.uk.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: May 31, 2024, 6:02 PM