I’ll say one thing for Maians (C/Sant Carles 28, tel. 93 221 1020, closed Mon & Tue). It’s cheap, cheerful and transports you to the south of Spain in a heartbeat. There’s something about the small, wood interior with Mediterranean blue trim with posters of Carmen strutting across the walls and fisherman’s paraphernalia tucked into corners that could easily put you in Málaga, especially once they turn up the flamenco. There’s something about the barman’s sad smile and ponytail that make you suspect he’s capable of a mournful love lament himself. And there’s definitely a certain thrill in seeing icy cold bottles of Fino and Manzanilla being hauled from the freezer to serve instead of wine (thought the wine list chalked up on the blackboard is decent enough) that tells you you’re not in Barcelona any more.
I’m not quite sure how Maians has managed to stay under my radar for so long. I suppose I just don’t explore the depths of Barceloneta enough, but I’m guessing this is going to become a bit of a favourite during this winter of “la crisis”. Fideus, arroz negra or paella mixta will cost you €9, €9 and €12 respectively (min 2 persons) which makes it about the cheapest in town. Several tables were tucking into generous pans of rice that looked good: inky black and giving off all the right smells of rich fish stock made with heads and bones, while others gathered at the bar sipping cañas and raving about the footy.
Meanwhile we tucked into crisp fried cazon (shark) adobo (pickled), a heap of chipirones, albondigas (meatballs) with clams, mussels a la marinera, pan con tomate and a salad washed down with plenty of Manzanilla (the crisp, slighty salty sherry from Sanlucar de Barrameda). The tabaneras for those of you who, like me, don’t know are spiced, fried vegetables and pork bits. Unfortunately they were off, but on the whole Maians delivers solid, home-cooked food at honest prices You can’t really argue with a bill of €33 for two for this little lot.
And if I’m unlikely to add it to my list of favourite tapas bars anytime soon, it is stored it in my mental file of places to go for un buen arroz on Sunday lunchtimes after a stroll along the beach.