[IN PICTURES] A life-long dream come true at Rabat's l-Istazzjon Bar & Kitchen

Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for. And L-Istazzjon in Rabat has been a long time coming. Reuniting the Borg sisters in the kitchen of this historical building, L-Istazzjon brings to life a life-long passion for the girls. SASHA SHUMARA heads down there for a history lesson as well as a superb meal. 

sasha_shumara
Sasha Shumara
29 August 2017, 3:02pm
The Borg sisters have had an eye on Rabat’s train station their whole life. Growing up cooking along to Food Network and celebrating their childhood birthdays at the train station, opening L-Istazzjon restaurant is a life-long family dream come true for the Borgs. 

On a beautiful summer day, we stay cool in L-Istazzjon’s shaded outdoor terrace, breathing in the fresh air overlooking the countryside of Rabat. We sit down with the Borg sisters for a history lesson and sneak peek of their new summer menu. 

The recorded history of Rabat’s train station is very little. Over the years, the Borgs have collected tales from the area and one out-of-print book with an original photo of the station. The sisters explain that Rabat’s train station was burnt down after it stopped functioning in the 1930s. Since then, the tunnel nearby served as a mushroom farm and in the 80s as a place to get milk. 

For 20 years, their father kept an eye on the property until 10 years ago he made the purchase, reuniting the four Borg sisters together, with head chef of the family - Niki Borg leaving plans of Italy behind, and, for all four sisters - putting every ounce of passion into what would be L’Istazzjon. The family waited for five years chasing permits, spent three years restoring the property and finally opened their doors to the public two years ago.  

With their own eye for design and help from a local architect, a modern extension was added to the train station simulating what would be a wagon built above the railroad tracks.

L-Istazzjon’s menu is all about good home-cooked food with seasonal produce and serving dishes that are as organic and locally sourced as possible. The pork is sourced from a local farmer who doesn’t use hormones, trips to the farmer’s market are regular and L’Istazzjon’s dishes use herbs from their veggie patch out back.  

Professionally trained in Italy, Niki Borg is the master of the kitchen at L-Istazzjon, with Rosie Borg looking after the dessert menu, Nina Borg running front of house, though she also gets involved in the kitchen serving up some delicious shakes and Maria Borg who is their official taster. With a newly launched summer menu, we couldn’t wait to try her food that she spoke so passionately about. 

Niki Borg & Rosie Borg
Niki Borg & Rosie Borg
For starters, we try fresh gravlax on brown bread complimented by a dash of charcoal-lime mayo. Tasty and refreshing but our unanimous winner for the starters was a plate of baked chickpea patties paired with this perfect minty yoghurt sauce with just the right amount of chilli and honey. 

Luckily, our main of pesto pasta was quickly served, avoiding any Gourmet Today team conflicts over the last baked chickpea patty. The pesto pasta was a very well executed local twist of a traditional Italian dish using local ġbejna, in house preserved lemon, homemade basil pesto and crushed pistachios.  

Rosie Borg is hands down, Rabat’s dessert queen. Rosie has been experimenting and tweaking her desserts since she was old enough to bake a cookie. Never satisfied with recipes, Rosie does desserts her own way and boy, are her desserts good.

Rosie’s “Pancake in a Pan” is not your traditional pancake and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Smothered in hot, melted peanut butter and Duplo, every bite is divine.

The “Pancake in a Pan” is a hybrid between your traditional stovetop pancake and oven-baked cake, using Rosie’s own pancake mix to create this match made in heaven for those with a sweet tooth. 

The Borg sisters want nothing more than to work 24/7 running their restaurant. They are obsessed but in a good way. A really good way. The Borg sisters bring so much passion and personality to their restaurant while keeping the dining experience exquisite. Ask the sisters to adjust a menu item for you, laugh around the table with your friends, bring your dogs, sit back and enjoy the clean country air and amazing views. L-Istazzjon is a home away from home.

Before we go, the Borg sisters reflect on a cancer fighter’s last birthday party they hosted at L-Istazzjon. 

“All of us, all the waiters, we were in tears. We organised a red carpet and put her Rottweiler in a tutu. It was beautiful and touching. We’ll never forget her birthday and the biggest hug she gave me at 3AM when we drove her home in our truck.” 

L-Istazzjon is a very special restaurant in the countryside of Rabat. It’s no surprise that the restored train station has quickly won the hearts of so many that make it their weekly ritual to dine at L-Istazzjon.

We have a feeling we’ll be becoming regulars ourselves.

L-Istazzjon

Triq Għajn Hammam,

Rabat

Tel: 2145 1984


Find them on Facebook