282 Coffee Garden: Local Maltese dishes on Republic Street
We ate at 282 Coffee Garden on the first evening of our visit to Valletta in December 2013.
We hadn't done much research prior to our visit and so we wandered along Triq ir-Repubblika (Republic Street; the city's main shopping street) looking for somewhere suitable to eat. We were enticed into 282 Coffee Garden by a couple of chalk boards outside declaring that the restaurant specialised in local Maltese dishes and that the day's speciality was rabbit stew, which we were particularly keen to try.
We made our way upstairs and found a nice dining area with lots of greenery and a few semi-private alcoves. It was busy, but we managed to find a vacant table. The much less interesting downstairs dining area was almost empty as we passed through; the upstairs dining room clearly being the one favoured by most visitors.
The menu did indeed feature a selection of Maltese dishes, although not a particularly extensive choice. These included spaghetti with rabbit (€7.50), beef olives (€12) and rabbit stew (€12). Other dishes included swordfish, octopus, king prawns, salmon, chicken breast, pork chops, veal and rib eye steak.
Emma's parents ordered starters, but Emma and I gave them a miss (not least because they looked on the expensive side). Emma's mum had the Maltese cheese (a couple of pieces of cheese in breadcrumbs) and, while she enjoyed it, I have to say that it looked hugely overpriced at €7.80. Emma's dad enjoyed a large bowl of vegetable soup (€5.00).
Three of us opted for the rabbit stew (€12), which was served with a large plate of salad and a large plate of chips between the three of us. The stew itself was served in a fairly small portion, but it was very tasty. The sauce contained white wine, potatoes, olives, onions, rocket and various herbs. The rabbit meat was tender and, as somebody who hadn't previously eaten rabbit, it reminded me of chicken wings and frogs' legs. There were lots of small bones in the stew, which did make it a little awkward to eat. It was nice enough, but I didn't think it was worth the €12 that I paid for it.
Emma's dad had the beef olives (€12) which, despite their name, didn't contain any olives. This local Maltese dish is actually beef stuffed with a filling, in this case minced meat, vegetables and herbs. He enjoyed them.
The beer was reasonably priced. We enjoyed glasses of the local Cisk lager (€1.60 for 250ml), while Emma and her mum opted for the hot homemade mulled wine (€2.95 per glass).
The service was very friendly, but a little slow and disjointed. I can forgive the slow service given how busy the restaurant was, but the fact that our meals didn't arrive together (one or two arrived and then there was a wait of several minutes for the others) was a little frustrating. We also had to chase up the mulled wines which hadn't appeared after 20 or 30 minutes and had seemingly been forgotten.
Nice setting, friendly staff, local Maltese dishes....but probably not worth the price we paid.
Guze Bistro: Delicious food in a historic bistro!
I ate at Guze Bistro with my fiancee and her parents on New Year's Eve 2013.
In previous years we had failed to make arrangements for New Year's Eve in suitable time and so had often been left desperately searching for a vacant table (or even an open restaurant) in whichever city we found ourselves in. In 2012, we found ourselves in a Chinese buffet in Bilbao. In 2011, we spent New Year's Eve in an overpriced Italian restaurant in Lisbon. In 2010, we squeezed into the last remaining seats of a busy Chinese restaurant in Munich. This time we were determined to be better prepared for the big evening. Not prepared enough to have made a reservation before flying out to Malta, granted, but better prepared than usual! So, four days before New Year's Eve, we made a trip into Valletta from St Julian's and scoped out potential venues for the 31st. We perused the special menus being advertised outside the various restaurants, dismissed some as being too expensive, and made enquiries of various waiting staff. Many places were already fully booked. It looked as though we had left it too late again.
Then we stumbled across Guze Bistro, located on Old Bakery Street, just a short downhill walk from the main drag of Republic Street (turn off next to the Savoy shopping mall). I vaguely recalled the name from my pre-trip research (and the fact that it was highly rated), so I was sure that it would be fully booked for NYE. We decided to go in and make an enquiry anyway, although I was sure it would be a fruitless one. Much to my surprise, they had availability. Their second sitting, at 9pm, was fully booked, but as long as we were finished with our table before then we could show up whenever we liked. This suited us fine; we planned to eat around 7pm before soaking up the atmosphere of Valletta's New Year street party.
As we stood in the intimate dining room (a small room with bare brick walls in a 400 year old building) the waiter showed us the special New Year's Eve menu and informed us that it was priced at €50 per person – which included canapes, soup, starter, main, dessert and coffee with petite fours. It was more than I had been hoping to pay, but I could see that it was a special place and, with the risk of not finding an alternative, we went ahead and booked.
In the intervening days between booking and dining I became increasingly confident that we had made the right choice. I read the glowing reviews on Trip Advisor and discovered that Guze Bistro was ranked #2 out of 146 restaurants in Valletta and #7 out of 1,084 restaurants in Malta. I could scarcely believe that we had managed to get a reservation for New Year's Eve at such a late stage.
New Year's Eve came and we arrived at the restaurant at around 6:30pm. A few of the other tables were already occupied, but it was only half full at this relatively early hour. The bare wooden tables had been set with wine glasses and Christmas crackers and there was a relaxed ambience.
We studied the menu (which I had already read in depth having downloaded the PDF version from their website after booking, but had yet to fully decide on my choices) and ordered the first of two bottles of Prosecco (€14 per bottle).
The New Year's Eve menu was as follows:
Cream of Butternut Squash, Gozo Honey, Rosemary Grissini
Lobster Bisque, Amontillado Sherry, Olive Oil Croutons
Pastry Pithivier of Braised Rabbit, Creamy Port Jus
Risotto with Mediterranean Prawns, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Zucchini & Carrot, Local Sheep Cheese, Truffled Quails Eggs
Duo of Sea Bass and Brown Meagre, Poached Asparagus, Sauce Maltaise
Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Crispy Pork Cheeks, Apple Puree, Madeira
Rib Eye of Aged Black Angus Beef, Mediterranean Sea Salt
Wellington of Roasted Vegetables, Hollandaise, Sweet Potato Mash
Warm Chocolate Fondant, Caramel Ice Cream
Coffee & Petite Fours
Our meal began with a complimentary portion of bread. This took the form of a wooden board of various sliced breads, rather rustic looking, and two small jars. One jar contained a sundried tomato chutney and the other contained olive oil in a spreadable, butter-like form. It was delicious and whetted our appetite for the meal ahead.
Next came the canapes. They were tiny. They represented everything that I thought I hated about gourmet restaurants. The two miniscule morsels of food looked lost on a full sized plate. One (a piece of smoked salmon atop an olive oil crouton, garnished with a sprig of green herb) sat at one edge of the plate, the other (a postage stamp sized piece of lemon and chilli jelly topped with sour cream) sat at the other edge of the plate. Between the two was the faintest hint of pea puree. The merest trail, barely visible, and looking like the remnants on a plate that hadn't been properly cleaned. More style than substance. But, wow, the food was tasty! Especially the lemon and chilli jelly. How is it possible to pack so much flavour into such small nibbles?!
Onto the soups. I opted for the Lobster Bisque while Emma and her parents all opted for the Butternut Squash soup. Once again, I was initially taken aback by the small portion size. Their bowls of soup looked reasonably sized, but the lobster bisque consisted of maybe four or five mouthfuls. It came in a large dish, but the majority of it was flat with just a small hollowed out area at the centre into which the bisque had been poured. Again, my disappointment at the portion size was blown away by the taste. It was delicious! Not only that, but there were three good sized pieces of lobster meat deceptively concealed within the seemingly small bowl of soup. The accompanying croutons took the form of a side dish of miniature breadsticks.
Now we were onto the starters. I ordered the risotto. Sometimes I find risotto to be a little bland, but that was certainly not the case here. It was full of flavour and contained several large and small, shelled and unshelled prawns. Emma and her mum both opted for the rabbit pithivier. I'd never heard of a pithivier and I'm not sure that anybody else in our party had. It turned out to be a small rabbit pie with a puff pastry crust and the port jus was artistically splashed around the edge of the plate. Emma's dad opted for the zucchini, carrot, sheep cheese and quails eggs. It too was presented like a piece of modern art. Two pieces of sheep cheese sat on a bed of carrot and zucchini, while two spears of asparagus formed a cupid shape on top of the cheese. Some sort of sauce was dotted in perfectly alligned rows next to the cheese, while the quail eggs, on a bed of herbs, sat separately in a corner of the plate. The food didn't just look good, it tasted good as well. We all cleared our plates.
Emma's dad and I both ordered the Black Angus beef for our mains and both ordered it medium to well done. The beef was cooked to perfection and there was little, if any, gristle or fat on our steaks. The beef came with an assortment of vegetables; balls of carrot, spears of asparagus, pak choi, mange tout, grilled mushroom and a side dish of potatoes roasted in olive oil, rosemary and other herbs. Emma and her mum both ordered the pork belly and pork cheeks. It too was served with a similar assortment of vegetables, as well as an apple sauce. Once again, we all emptied our plates.
There was only one choice of dessert on offer....but it was a good one! The warm chocolate fondant consisted of a crispy cake exterior which, when broken into, oozed out hot chocolate sauce. It was accompanied by a scoop of caramel ice cream on a toffee and biscuit crumble, a sliced kumquat, a strawberry and a few blackcurrants. Very nice!
All that remained was the coffee and petite fours. Emma's mum and I had espresso coffees, while Emma and her dad opted for tea instead. Each drink came with a praline chocolate on the saucer – i guess that's what a petite four is!
Overall, this was a fantastic meal served in intimate surroundings by extremely friendly and attentive staff. All of the food was delicious and, although I initially thought it sounded expensive, was worth every penny that we paid. It was the perfect place to enjoy our New Year's Eve meal. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is one of the best meals I've ever had anywhere in the world. Very highly recommended!
Blue Room: Disappointing food, poor value
The food is basic and some dishes are badly over-spiced, so much so that you won't be able to taste anything else in your meal, even if you have wine and eat a lot of rice to clean your palate. Other dishes are disappointingly dull, not much of a step above a chain restaurant. Perhaps having eaten in several good Chinatown restaurants in several cities, I'm fussy, but none of our food was even very good.
Do be aware that if your bill is under 35 euros average, you will be charged a two euro surcharge. It's written at the bottom of the sign and is easy to miss.
While it's easy to get that 35 euro charge if you order an appetizer, main dish, and wine, you'll largely have wasted your money. For example, they charge 2.5 euros for a cup of tea, while other restaurants charge 1 or 1.5.
Do not let them seat your party near the door, as you will be subjected to a constant funneled wind when anybody comes in, made worse by the fact that the door doesn't shut properly. I saw them sit a single woman traveler there, even though there were other tables open, and she was up and down all evening closing the door, even with the hostess looking on.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Margo's: Good Pizza
Excellent pizza, friendly service, but soooo slow. It wasn't really their fault - a party of about a dozen had arrived just before us. But there was no warning. There was no apology. And worst of all a group of three men arrived long after we'd ordered, about an hour that is, and they got their food before us. They seemed to be friends of the staff. That was annoying.
On another day it would probably be a very good experience, and I enjoyed my pizza when it arrived, although my hunger might have affected how tasty I found the damn thing to be!
Four stars for food, three stars because I had to wait so long.
Hard Rock Bar ~ Valletta, Malta: Hard Rock Cafes Are Found Around the World
I admit I'm a fan of collecting Hard Rock Cafe pins and so I was thrilled when I found the Hard Rock Bar Malta so easy to visit. But this Hard Rock was out of the ordinary and worth a visit in and of itself.
The location of this 140-seat Hard Rock Bar is probably the best I have ever visited. This particular Hard Rock Bar occupies one of the beautiful niche spots or "vaults" that make up the Valletta Waterfront. Inside guests will find in what was once cargo storage areas, vaulted ceilings and concrete walls, but the shaded seating on the terrace facing the Grand Harbour with the extraordinary view may be what I remember the most.
Although it was just late afternoon and the sun was far from retreating from the sky, the Hard Rock Bar Malta was experiencing a flury of visitors --- young and old jockeying for position at the merchandise counter! Most people were purchasing t-shirts and other items with the Hard Rock Cafe Malta logo. Since I was there to buy just a pin, I let the crowd thin out before approaching the counter!
No one seemed to be interested in the music memorabilia but lots of people were having their photos taken next to the gigantic and iconic Hard Rock Cafe guitar close to the seating area.
Favorite Dish: Not only am I a fan of Hard Rock pins which I try to buy during my visits to different countries, I'm a fan of their classic hamburgers and cheeseburgers!! Large, juicy and cooked to perfection! Served with lettuce, tomato, onion and french fries, this is my standard favorite at the Hard Rock! There are lots of other tasty menu items such as salads, appetizers, pastas, chicken, and desserts and prices always seem to be reasonable. A very attractive bar at the Hard Rock Malta invited you to take a seat there. Several flat-screen TV's were perfectly placed to watch music videos following the tradition of other Hard Rock Cafes. A lot of the younger people were enjoying themselves and a bit of freedom here it seemed. No one was rowdy---just loud and happy!
On a nice day or evening, my preference would have been to enjoy a typical American hamburger and drink while sitting on the outside terrace as another way to enjoy Malta!! At night this place seemed quite magical with evening lights of Malta dotting the harbor.
NOTE: Your AAA (American Automobile Association) membership card will get you a 10% discount on food and merchandise!
The Pub: The famous pub
The only food we saw in here was potato chips ;) But I couldn´t put this at nightlife, because they said it´s not open until the night.
I think most of you know the story of this place. I´m not very intrested in movies and actors, but my husband is, so he wanted to visit the pub, where Ollver Reed died. At the photo is the chair from witch he felt down after drinking more than most of us never can.
And I have nothing against a good beer (neither has he..), so we both got something. They did have some beers we had never seen before. Tried two of them and liked. Don´t remeber the naes anymore, but they were Brittish. Maltan beers weren´t so great, if you ask us. Nothing wrong, but nothing special either.
Place is quite small, sometimes you might not fit in.
Favorite Dish: They had very good beers from Great Britain. The prices wewrn´t so high, as one could expect from so famous place. We found it even cheap!Related to:
- Beer Tasting
Al Mare: Waterside Location
Lovely informal Italian/Maltese restaurant serving Pasta & Pizza in a waterfront setting that looks across to Sliema. It's in a building that used to be a Police station, and there is plenty of seating inside or out.
Unfortunately the ferry stops running in the evening or this place would have been ideal for an evening jaunt from Sliema.
Favorite Dish: Risotto con Leghumi (mushroom risotto)
Linguini Traponese (tomatoes, chilli, garlic)
La Fumia: Great Sicilian food
La Fumia has excellent fish dishes and great pasta dishes as well. Be careful with the pasta starters because the portions are really big (but sooooo tasty ;-) ). Also don't miss out on their deserts!
The Chef: Excellent restaurant
We tried several restaurants (Gianini, la Fumia, Rubino) in Valletta; but found The Chef to be the best restaurant we ate at in Valletta. Apart from excellent meals their prices are lower than other comparable restaurants. Don't miss out on the 'slow food' it is really great. They are also a wine cellar; so the list of wines is very long (and at very fair prices).
Luciano: super lunch
This place is right next to St John’s and usually is busy with touroids and locals. We were there on a public holiday, so it was quieter. Like most places, you can eat inside or out.
We had the day’s special – stuffed pasta. Very good, but rich and filling. We also polished off a bottle of Maltese white.
Good menu, friendly service. €18 each (with coffee)
Favorite Dish: The pasta - I've never had black pasta before!Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Historical Travel
Ta' Reno: great!
This is a hole in the wall place. That does not imply unhygienic - quite the opposite. Just tiny. Wide enough for 1 table and space to get past. Close to St John's.
I had ftira - toasted flat bread stuffed with whatever you want (usually 1 meat and at least 6 veg). I had number 59 on the menu (cheese, peppers, olives...) and it was about halfway down the menu.
They also do normal hot dishes.
Cost €4 with a bottle of water. Excellent food, wonderful value and fun!
Oh, and they're friendly. I might just go back tomorrow.
Favorite Dish: Ftira!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
MARKS AND SPENCERS: A TASTE OF HOME
Marks and Spencer’s is a British institution. We visited the cafe in Valletta one sunny afternoon in February. I had a cheddar cheese and ham sandwich, which was delicious. After our sandwich and coffee we picked up some Percy pigs [sweets] and went back outside to enjoy the Malta sunshine.
Favorite Dish: It was nice to have cheddar cheese, a taste of home.
Les Deux Baronnes: For the view..........
This is an ordinary cafe, with an extraordinary setting. It has the most fabulous views of Valletta harbour and the Three Cities ...just wonderful.
And yet, and yet....when I visited (three times) in the course of an August week it was rarely very busy. I think, perhaps, visitors just do not notice it (locals know it's there, of course).
They serve normal cafe things (coffee, beer, wine, soft drinks, snacks etc) and also do a range of main courses.
The food is nothing special, but it is perfectly fine and very reasonably-priced.
One oddity is that, although your order is taken at the table you have to pay as you leave at the cash till in the kiosk.
I had a 'Maltese salad' one evening (see photo), ftira (Maltese bread) with aubergine/cheese and tuna/tomato/capers/olives (on separate pieces of bread) another. Both perfectly ok.
But what better than to eat your meal watching evening slowly fall across the water, watching the boats ply to and fro (from small, traditionally-painted oared fishing-boats to enormous Grimaldi-line lorry ferries and even bigger cruise ships), seeing the twinkling lights of the Three Cities gradually appear......lovely!
This place also offers a superb spot to watch the festa fireworks of the Three Cities. So much so that booking is advised on those nights.
Buy a beer or a coffee or something, sit at a table and just watch the watery world go by for a while.
To find it, stand with the entrance to Upper Barakka Gardens at your back, turn right, follow the road down and round and then turn right towards the entrance to the Salute Battery. You will actually go through the Les Deux Baronnes.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Da Pippo Trattoria: Worst dining experience in a long time!
Absolutely awful!. Having researched the internet for good restaurants in Valletta, this one had come out tops. We asked our concierge to book us a table and discovered it was lunch only - ok - thought it would be a lovely middle of the day experience. We checked again using our concierge and was told last sitting was at 3pm and no booking needed. We arrived 2.45pm really looking forward to it.. The menu displayed outside on a chalk board was limited to 4 items but our expectations were high. On entering the little trattoria we were thrilled to see its decor and cleanliness as well as noting that it was still half full. However our delight was soon dashed with the way we were treated (or should I say ignored). Dumped at a table right next to the door (were they already hinting we were not welcome?). No menu provided but told only the swordfish was available. We both agreed to go for that, some sparkling water and a glass of cooling beer each.We had a plate of butter beans and a few olives placed in front of us with some ordinary bread (charged). The swordfish was nice (20 euros each plus vat) but came with 3 tiny potatoes and a bowl of ice-cold ratatouille. We had to ask twice for our beer and got about 2 mouthfuls each (4 euros plus vat). No condiments of any description even though other diners had bottles of olive oil and peppermills on their table - and the food was 'plonked' down rather than served. We asked for a desert menu only to have a plate of stale looking 'things' put on our table. At that point we decided to leave despite still being hungry.The whole experience lasted no more than 20 minutes and cost 53 euros. We even told them of our disppointment which was greeted with a shrug and a smile.DO NOT GO THERE it is really AWFUL.
Meresi Coffee shop: Meresi Coffee shop
This coffeeshop is very nice and cozy ! Even though loads of people visit the place during the day especially during lunch time the service is ok. Very popular with lawyers and people working in Valletta.
Favorite Dish: Chicken and mushroom pie and Shepherd's PieRelated to:
- Food and Dining
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