Summer dining at the water's edge

Now that summer is in full swing, dining by the sea is an absolute must. But finding a spot that pays attention to good food rather than just selling their location at a premium is a tough job, AMY MICALLEF DECESARE is up to the task. She makes Naar one of her summer regulars

17 August 2017, 11:57am
In the stifling heat I made my way across the busy street, making a beeline for Naar, yearning for an ice-cold glass of water.

Just under two minutes later, I was in heaven; with an ice-cold cocktail in hand (what an upgrade), sitting contently in the beautiful terraced area, overlooking Balluta Bay. Just a few meters away was a live acoustic guitar player, completing the perfect picture that was my Saturday afternoon.

The overall positive vibe of the place was complemented, yet again, by the sublime food and friendly service. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

To make things interesting, my guest and I left our orders in the capable hands of Naar’s staff.

It was almost as though the waiter and I had some sort of telepathic connection because the second I took the last sip of my Long Island Iced Tea, he brought over a large dish of ‘oriental mussels’. I would usually turn my nose up at the very thought of mussels, but my guest wouldn’t take no for an answer and before I knew it, I was thrown head-first into a world I had always made my mission to avoid. I can’t believe I’m saying this… but they were delicious. Sautéed in an Asian blend of coconut milk, lemon grass and ginger, the overly ‘fishy’ taste that some of us aren’t too fond was virtually non-existent. They went down an absolute treat. What can I say? I’ve been converted.

First up: the sea bass fennel fillet. If like me, you’re exceptionally lazy and the last thing you feel like doing on a Saturday afternoon is cleaning a fish, don’t fret, the dish is hassle free. Cut and cleaned, perfectly seasoned and set on a deliciously simple fennel puree, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Next: The Moroccan lamb tagine. Read this part slowly… braised lamb shank, set on a delicious Moroccan spiced chickpea ragu. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it too. Lamb tagine is possibly the last thing you would expect to be on Naar’s menu. In spite of this, it was our personal favourite. Besides it being absolutely divine in all its tender glory, the presentation was good fun too. Served in a traditional clay tagine pot, I cannot stress how many times we placed the lid on and off to get that perfect mid-motion shot. You know what they say – simple things please simple minds!

Just a little aside, both dishes were served with home made wedges and vegetables, both of which were utter perfection. You’d be surprised what a challenge it is to find really good side dishes as, if we’re being honest, too many restaurants tend to disregard the side dishes and only pay close attention to the mains. Naar throws this idea out of the window completely as they take every aspect into consideration, ensuring every bite is as satisfying as the last, whether you’re digging into a crispy potato wedge or the sea bass itself.

We’re not done yet! In case you’re yearning for a ‘light’ snack and believe you me, we were not, I would recommend the Southwestener. Pulled pork brisket, complete with all the extras, including onion jam, Applewood cheese and baby spinach, served on a toasted ftira. I commend anyone who gets through this ftira and can still call it a ‘snack’.

Are you tired yet? At this point I was in physical pain but did I motion the waiter away when he brought over the desserts? No I did not. Without an iota of shame, we proceeded to order the brownie, lemon tart and carrot and walnut cake, all of which were home made. The brownie was delectable and rich, ideal for the chocolate lovers, and slightly less ideal for the weight watchers. The lemon tart was the perfect addition to the meal – not too sweet, not too tart, the pastry with just the perfect amount of flake. My personal favourite, the carrot and walnut cake, brought back pleasant memories of my youth, when my mother would present me with freshly made carrot cake whilst I was studying. This only happened once but it’s a pleasant memory nonetheless.

And with a final bow, mission Naar was complete. Walking back out into the sunlight, I found myself mentally listing Naar as my new favourite restaurant. Not only is the food second to none and inclusive of tons of vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free options, made fresh to order, it is the ideal place to unwind and spend your afternoon in the sun. Feel like a ‘light’ snack and a fresh dip in the open sea? Naar’s got you covered. More in the mood for a three-course meal followed by a walk along the Sliema front to burn those extra calories? Naar’s got you covered. Looking to plan a private party for 100 guests, complete with food and entertainment? Guess who’s got you covered? That’s right, Naar.

 

NAAR RestoBar

George Borg Olivier Street,

St.Julians

Tel: 21373412


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