Venus | Men are from Mars but I’m going to Venus

Despite its touristy location in the heart of Bugibba, Venus leaves even the most discerning diner coming back for more time and time again. 

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar
6 June 2014, 10:25am
Venus Restaurant in Bugibba
Venus Restaurant in Bugibba
I'm not what you'd call a girlie girl. I avoid girls' night out like the plague and even the thought of a hen's party sends shivers down my spine, giving me the urge to drink beer and watch monster truck rallies. But if the 'men are from Mars and women are from Venus' thing holds true, then I'd be perfectly happy to settle in Venus, if, that is, we are talking about the restaurant.

Bugibba has to be my least favourite place on the planet, ok, on the island (I'm sure there are darker places in the world I haven't been to). Pink tourists sporting socks and sandals, late night shopping for cheap souvenirs (how can real people fall into such a stereotypical category?) wander aimlessly trough the streets like a swarm of ants whose nest has just been trampled. Add that to a mindless system of one-way streets, pedestrianised zones and almost nowhere to park and it starts to feel like a recurring dream I've had since childhood where no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to reach my destination.

I therefore avoid Bugibba as best I can but I will make an exception, however, to go to Venus. Though just on the cusp of the pedestrian zone, and right next door to Fat Harry's, once you step inside you instantly forget the nauseous bustle of Bugibba and enter into a world that revolves around food and comfort.

To satisfy pink tourists needs, Bugibba is home to many establishments that serve eggs and chips and a pint, but Venus is nothing like that. White linen tablecloths, faux leather chairs, decent cutlery and glassware and stylish decor take the place of plastic tablecloths, paper napkins and laminated menus. But enough Bugibba-bashing, this should be about the positivity of such a restaurant despite its location.

The menu is short and concise though still decisions are far from easy. Do you go for starters and mains? Have pasta as a starter? Or a main course? Meat or fish? Even simple decisions like that are near impossible. Hake ravioli in a squid ink emulsion with lemon infused oil, potato gnocchi with pan-seared foie gras and Parmesan orange cream, pacchieri pasta with braised beef ragout, broad beans an parmeggiano reggiano. And those were just the pastas.

Fresh meat platter at Venus
Fresh meat platter at Venus
To make your life even more impossible, manager Michael Gera brings out a platter of fresh fish and another of fresh meats and proceeds to describe a number of mouth-watering dishes that weren't on the menu in a manner that is almost seductive. On the front page of the menu they say that food preparation is their hobby and every fish is seasoned with passion. This definitely comes across in the enthusiasm with which they describe each and every dish.

I managed to make a few small decisions. Fish. And pasta as a main. The rest I left to up to the chef. And was I satisfied with my decision? Most definitely.

Our starters were a selection of fresh seafood – The neonate fritters were crispy - more like a fishy onion bhajis - without any of the sogginess you find in second-rater fritters, sweet local prawns, grilled calamari and my favourite dish of the day a prawn carpaccio to rival even the best fish restaurants in Sicily – sweet prawn meat, the unmistakable crunch of Maldon sea salt flakes and a lemon-infused oil they make in-house. If I had to choose only one dish to eat for the rest of my life it would be this.

If I had to choose only dish I had to eat for the rest of my life it would be this prawn carpaccio at Venus
If I had to choose only dish I had to eat for the rest of my life it would be this prawn carpaccio at Venus
For mains we had pasta – again with prawns and calamari and though the usual way with a seafood pasta is to fish out the meaty bits over the pasta, the sauce (I think I may have heard mention of a lobster bisque) was so delicious that choosing between the meaty bits and the pasta once you start to get full is impossible. Therefore you have to eat till you pop!

Linguine with prawn and calamari at Venus
Linguine with prawn and calamari at Venus
Even though I thought I may have popped, I went for local mqaret, deep fried pillows of sweet date deliciousness, served with a refreshing vanilla ice-cream and glass of port. The perfect end to a perfect meal.

Though I find the thought of Bugibba detestable, even in summer this is a restaurant that has me through those doors time and time again.

Venus is open from Monday to Sunday 18:30 to 23:00.

Venus

Pioneer Road,

Bugibba

Tel: 21571604

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: www.facebook.com/venusrestaurant

rachelzc
Rachel Zammit Cutajar graduated in economics from the University of Malta...