When Carlos suggested taking me to the latest Southsea opening, Maya, last Friday my first reaction was “we have a trail run early the next morning, we can’t drink much!” Did we wake up at 6:30am with a hangover? Yes we did! An unintentional hangover only means one thing – we had a jolly good evening! (and I guess a reminder that we are no longer in our 20s).
Located on Jubilee Terrace, Maya has only been opened a month. It’s just up the road from Carlos’s, so we’ve been following their progress for a while, always peeping through the window as we walk past. Maya is a Latin American restaurant with an extensive choice of small plates to share between the table. I was very impressed with the menu and there is something for everyone. There’s a good selection of vegan dishes which I’m sure my Mum will be very happy about (she’s still doing Veganuary).
It was lovely and warm inside and the interior was dimly-lit, cosy and romantic. The tables seemed quite close together and Carlos was a bit put off sitting so close to another couple but once we had sat down we didn’t feel that close at all. I particularly loved the cutlery which followed the dark-ish theme. They were a very dark grey colour but not cheap looking, they were good quality and very light and easy to use. The wine glasses were nice too. A double door at the front would be good in Winter as we kept getting a whiff of coldness come through every time someone came in or out. This happens in many places in Winter and it’s hard to install a whole new door just for those Winter months.
I tried to convince Carlos that one glass of wine each would do “remember we have a trail run” but he disobediently ordered a bottle. He did well because it was a very nice Malbec call Postales which he told me translates to Postcards. Cute.
We ordered four dishes between the two of us and I thought that was just perfect to leave us feeling satisfied. The first dish to arrive was the queso fundido which was a baked cheese fondue with herbs and garlic baked in the charcoal oven and served with charred bread. The cheese was lovely and not at all sickly which you sometimes find with a cheese fondue. The bread was a little disappointing, just a white sliced baguette (I’m not having much luck with my bread at the moment – see our review of No. Forty-6). Better quality bread would have made this dish my favourite.
The second dish to arrive was Taco de Berenjena which was slow-cooked smoked aubergine in a corn tortilla with tomato salsa, charred spring onion, and garlic crema, topped with crispy garlic and onion. This was the dish I was most looking forward to – I absolutely love smoked aubergine! Unfortunately, this was our least favourite and it lacked flavour. We added some salt and pepper but it was still rather bland which was odd considering it was meant to contain some rather bold flavours like garlic, onion and was smoked. The presentation was great though and it certainly looked the part.
Next up was the Ceviche de Salmon which includes raw salmon in a citrus dressing of yuzu, orange and lime with wasabi, orange segments and baby peppadews. This was a nice dish which was packed full of flavour and the salmon was good quality. We particularly loved the combination of the sour citrus and the sweet peppadews. It was the first time I had tried a peppadew and it complimented this dish beautifully. They looked great on the plate too, with their bright red colour.
Next up were the Al Pastor Ribs which were marinated in smokey ancho, cooked over hot coals and finished with a sticky pineapple glaze. These were forgotten about but the owner Chris kindly came over to apologise and we got our ribs soon after. The ribs were well cooked and it was good quality meat but I didn’t taste any pineapple glaze – maybe they forgot to put it on?! I do like a fair bit of sauce with my meat especially as I’m not really a meat eater anyway (I just have a soft spot for ribs!) so more sauce would have been nice.
All the desserts sounded amazing! Cheesecake with Dulce de Leche was the obvious choice. This very generous portion was presented well and came with the most delicious slab of burnt caramel which was ever so tasty. The cheesecake tasted homemade and you could tell it was baked. We both found it a little dry but other than that is was very flavoursome.
We will be returning to Maya. Overall we loved the place, the service was very friendly and the choice in dishes, fantastic. Like with all new eateries, it takes a bit of time to get it right and I hope when we revisit we will find a little more flavour in the food. We wish Chris and his team the very best of luck with their new venture. See you again soon!
Living life, loving Maya,