A staple of Dubai’s dining scene since 2015, The Maine brasserie from Canadian restaurateur Joey Ghazal made its international debut in the UK capital at the end of 2021.
The glamorous dining spot is nestled in a quiet corner of the busy, high-end district of Mayfair, through the gardens of Hanover Square.
What to expect and where to sit
The New England-inspired restaurant is spread over five rooms and three floors of an 18th-century Georgian town house. There is also a year-round hidden terrace in the Medici Courtyard, where the home’s former stables used to be.
Designed in collaboration with British studio BradyWilliams, Maine Mayfair is a blend of “old-world British elegance, New England extravagance and a touch of subterranean decadence”, Ghazal says.
After making our way down some stairs, my dining companion and I are greeted by a host in a hallway adorned with oyster shells signed by celebrities who have visited the place. We are ushered into the main dining lounge where a spectacular chandelier hangs from a low ceiling and the sound of a live jazz band adds to a luxurious and intimate atmosphere.
The brown and dark green tones of the table and chairs, softly lit by floor lamps that resemble palm trees, build on the room's glamorous warmth. Comfortably chic red Hollywood regency sofas and round, gold-rimmed tables add sophistication.
Behind the live band on the stage to the back of the room is a partially exposed kitchen, where pots and pans are deftly handled by the cooks preparing our meal. It lends intimacy to a place that balances a flamboyant old-school elegance with a low-key contemporary atmosphere.
Tables are spread over raised platforms and in alcoves, giving diners ample space and privacy. It’s a comfortable place you could while away many hours with guests, including at after-dinner parties at the weekend.
Given the renown for marine food of the American state the restaurant is named after, my guest and I focused on Maine's seafood offerings, although its range of steak options look equally mouth-watering.
After nibbling on some complementary bread, butter and grilled garlic gloves, our oysters arrived tasting incredibly fresh and cold, as if our waiter had just stuck his hand in open waters and grabbed a half dozen to serve to us on a mound of crushed ice.
The Hamachi ceviche at £16 ($19.35) with Peruvian aji amarillo chilli paste and coriander was tasty but not moreish, although the crunchy slivers of sweet potato crisps were hard to put down.
We opted for the smaller portion of the lobster (£35) to share as one of our mains, but I would say that even non-sharers should opt for the larger size (£65). Since we had greedily ordered the lobster mash (£16) as one of our sides, the divine combination of creamy potatoes and soft bits of shellfish more than compensated our craving for more of the delectable crustacean.
Our other main, the halibut Bearnaise (£36) with small ratte potatoes and creamy leaks (ordered without the customary pancetta) was hearty, creamy and salty — a melt-in-your-mouth dish that left us licking our lips. A decadent side of garlic chestnut mushrooms (£8) in a sea of herby melted butter should seal your appetite for hours.
Dressed in white jackets, the waiting staff were courteous and attentive throughout and made sure we didn’t miss out on Maine's signature giant cookie dessert. We took our time ploughing through the large treat, but its soft dough centre stayed warm until the last bite.
The halibut and lobster mash deserves a special mention. The lobster, especially, was cooked to perfection and the only downside was there wasn’t enough of it, although it came with a healthy portion of triple-cooked chips.
We would give the Hamachi ceviche a miss the next time and the sticky toffee pudding, while a perfectly fine dessert, paled in comparison with the cookie.
A chat with the owner
Born in Canada to Lebanese parents, Ghazal was raised in Dubai. He started his career in food and beverage waiting tables at Soho House in London, then went on to develop several restaurants and bars in Montreal, Beirut and Dubai.
He describes the menu at Maine as an homage to the summers he spent on the US East Coast as a child, with a focus on “the best possible ingredients constituted in the simplest way possible”. With signature brasserie-style dishes, there is plenty of fresh seafood to choose from as well as steak cuts sourced from around the world and a variety of breeds, including dry aged, wet aged, marbled and lean, grass-fed, grain-fed and even chocolate-fed.
Ghazal says the Montreal steak seasoning is “an ode to my hometown in Canada”, while for the restaurant’s vegetarian newcomers, he recommends the cauliflower taco, miso baked pumpkin and gnocchi verde. Meat lovers are advised to tuck into the popular “hero dishes”: the New York sirloin steak and filet mignon. The crispy fish taco and angry lobster pasta are his top picks for seafood but, Ghazal adds: “You cannot come to The Maine without having our fresh shucked oysters.”
Price point and contact information
Half a dozen shucked oysters will set you back between £20 and £38, while the wide range of cold and hot starters go from £11 to £28. Classic dishes at Maine include mussels, truffle-roasted chicken and vegetarian gnocchi, priced between £18 and £32. Seafood fare, such as the sea bass, halibut and small lobster come in at about £35, but you may be tempted to splurge on the £120 grilled seafood platter. Steaks and chops are a bit dearer with a New York sirloin priced at £150 and the 600g Japanese Wagyu coming in at the top end at £310.
The Maine Mayfair is open from noon to 1am from Monday to Saturday, and 5.30pm to 1am on Sunday. Reservations can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant