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The best 10 meals of 2017

Looking for a great meal out? Meat, fish, savoury, sweet, fancy or simple these are the best meals I've had in 2017

The end of the year is a time for reflection. What worked out and what didn’t? This can be done with every facet of life and eating out should not be any different. Working in food media, we tend to get through a large amount of meals at various restaurants. These have been my favourite of 2017. 

Tasting menu

LVB

LVB, in Valletta, is what every restaurant should be – two men with a passion for food, who put the diner’s experience over everything else. Every dish is meticulously prepared, plated and served and that alone is enough to get it onto my top 10 list. Meeting Tony Ventura and Ryan Gialanze, gives this restaurant even more points! Genuine people with a genuine interest in what they do and how you feel about your dining experience. Choosing one particular dish that struck me most is impossible. This 48-hour, slow cooked pork belly has to be one of them though, along with the lobster thermidor, beef fillet, local rizzi and even their bread and homemade butter. Delish!

Address: 65/66, Merchant’s Street, Valletta.

Tel: 99073755

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 19:00 – 23:00

Scallops cooked in hazelnut butter

Giuseppi’s Bar and Bistro

Ok, so this one wasn’t on the menu but made specially for a Gourmet Today photo shoot. But this is the kind of food you can expect to eat at Giuseppi’s every time. The menu changes daily so you never get comfortable ordering the same old dishes and get to try new things all the time. If you’re looking for a super meal out, this is the spot.

Address: Salini Resort, Naxxar

Tel: 21574882

Opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday 19:30 – 22:00, Friday – Sunday 12:30 – 15:00, Friday – Saturday 19:30 – 22:30

Carbonara

The Pulled Meat Company

Though this place started out making simple pulled pork sandwiches from a stall at The Point, in Sliema, today, it is their pasta dishes that I tend to favour. Their farm to fork project sees them buying local pigs from local farmers and buying the whole animal instead of the cuts they want. This makes them more creative in the dishes they offer as they make up recipes for cuts of meat we tend to avoid. The house-made guanciale make this carbonara a cut above any other I’ve had in Malta – this year or any year!

Address: 29, Triq l-Imsida,

Gzira

Tel: 21341050

Opening hours: Tues – Sat: 11:00 – 15:00; 19:00 – 23:00

Tasting menu

Rocksalt

Our favourite cocktail bar in Sliema closed its doors to many unhappy customers last year, but it has re-opened, bigger and better in Balluta Bay, this time offering proper meals rather than just bar snacks and light bites. Though you can still go for drinks on the terrace and the lighter snacks, a proper sit down meal should be on the cards. Their tasting menu is superb. My favourite course was a rose wine infused foie gras terrine on toasted brioche topped with confit cherries, roasted pumpkin seeds and cherry jus with Pernod. The foie gras is slow-cooked sous vide, resulting in such light texture, contrasting with the crunch of the toasted brioche and roasted pumpkin seeds. Unfortunately we did not catch an image of this dish but here is an image of their scallops instead.

Address: St Julian’s Hill, St Julian’s.

Tel: 21336226

Opening hours: 5:30pm till late

Tasting menu

Sous vide Denver steak

Fat Louie’s

It’s no secret that I absolutely love this place. When you want a little bit of indulgence this place hits the spot. Whether it’s smoked brisket, short beef ribs or their mac and cheese topped with truffles. This Denver steak paired with creamy mashed potatoes, skinny fries and mac and cheese (coz carbs are life) makes it to the top of my list. If you’re adventurous in your tastes, look out for their specials board that feature magical stuff like pig’s head terrine, snails and bacon or if you are less inclined to try new things lobster rolls. 

Address: Triq Paceville, St Julian’s

Tel: 27454582

Opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday 12:00 – 15:00, Friday 12:00 – 15:30, Saturday and Sunday 12:00 – 16:00, daily 19:00 – 23:00

Haryali tikka

Sharma

Authentic Indian food is quite difficult to come by. Inauthentic Indian eateries, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. Sharma, which was once set in the beautiful Mdina and has now moved to the chic Portomaso, is the place to go if you’re craving a little bit of Indian. Be prepared to over-order as everything here is pretty spectacular. My favourite of the night was the haryali tikka, cooked in a tandoori oven and served on a sizzler. When I was a kid I loved the sound and the smells of the sizzling dishes making their way to my table. Not a lot has changed as an adult. Beautifully tender and packed full of flavour, this sizzling dish is everything you can hope for.

Address: Portomaso Marina, Level -5, St Julian’s

Tel: 21453817

Chocolate cocktail

Thirsty Barber

I’m much happier sitting down to a meal than going out on the town and drinking – particularly if the drinking is going down in Paceville. That is, however, unless we’re talking about The Thristy Barber. This is a watering hole for grown ups, with smart décor and bar tenders who, with a couple of questions, will make a cocktail tailored to your tastes. This one mixes drinking with dessert and who doesn’t love a little bit of chocolate? Especially when the garnish is lots of tasty bits of chocolate snacks!

Address: Ball Street, Paceville.

Tel: 79440909

Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 18:00 – 1:00, Friday and Saturday 17:00 – 2:00 and Sunday 19:00 – 2:00

Ramen

KuYa Asian Pub

Ramen has had its five minutes of fame this year with Instagram being taken over by this hearty Japanese soup. Local restaurants have taken advantage of this with many offering a bowl of steaming hot ramen. For great Asian food we love Kuya, with its unassuming restaurant in St Julian’s, where effort is placed on the food they are serving. Their ramen absolutely rocks, as does most of their Asian street style food.

Address: Ross Street, St. Julian’s

Tel: 2713 6517

Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 15:00, 18:30 – 23:00

Cookies and ice cream

Stazzjon Bar and Kitchen

There are some places you go to where you just know you have to leave room for dessert. I had heard about these giant cookies served straight out of the pan before I went there. Sometimes you’re not sure whether you want dessert or not when you go out for a meal. This time we weren’t sure whether we wanted savoury first! They are just as delicious as you think, crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside with big chunks of melted chocolate in the centre and vanilla ice cream all over the top. Yum.  

Address: Triq Ghajn Hammam, Rabat

Tel: 21451984

Opening hours: Daily from 11:00 to 22:00

Brunch

Charles Grech Bisto

When you wake up at the crack of dawn during the week, lying in at the weekend becomes near impossible. Though at summer time the beach beckons early, in the winter what better way to start your day than with a spot of brunch? And while we’re on the subject, nowhere does brunch better than Charles Grech Bistro in Sliema. Whether you’re after indulgent eggs Benedict, a healthier version of eggs and avocado, granola or fresh fruit, they’ve got you covered. Lunch and dinner are pretty good there too!

Address: 59, Sir Adrian Dingli Street, Sliema.

Tel: 21320926

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 12:00 – 22:30, Saturday 9:00 – 22:30, Sunday 9:00 – 16:00

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