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Food, Lifestyle, Reviews

A Culinary Gem

July 31, 2019

“When cutting fabric, a tailor cuts along the grain to make sure the material does not fray. This also ensures the garment created from this fabric continues to wear well. A tailor may be in possession of high-quality materials and equipment, but without the necessary skills, that fabric, as well as the garment created, will not stand the test of time.” – Grain

I am often mocked for the way I choose a place to dine. I refrain from scrolling through trip advisor reviews or analysing a restaurant’s menu prior to entering, because I would much rather spontaneously enter a place that attracts my attention and then test out what it has to offer; just like that, on a whim.

Often, I find that appearances are far from deceiving, and judging a book by its cover when it comes down to choosing the right restaurant? Well, it has worked for me! Truthfully, I think that is simply because I prioritise the whole experience and not just the food on offer. Yes, I love a delicious and simple meal, but in my eyes, dinners are reserved for the gorgeous restaurants that treat you to more than just good food.

That is the exact same approach I had when dining at Grain – an exquisite new restaurant located in Merchant Street, Valletta, and forming part of the AX Hotel Group’s many impressive creations. When walking in the area, you’ll notice Grain in a heartbeat. Exterior walls painted in navy and a glamorously dressed mannequin situated by the window; it all does feel rather inviting. The interiors also surpassed my expectations. Picture cream coloured walls, Parisian-inspired seating and jazz music playing softly in the background. Does that not already sound like my kind of place?!

And then came the food.

My friend MarieClaire and I were treated to an incredibly filling meal and simply the best service I have ever experienced. The gentleman who waited our table was so kind and patient, despite our time-consuming decision-making process.

Grain’s concept relies heavily on the idea that no automated creation could replace the true culinary skills honed by humans, and oh don’t they live up to that notion! Additionally, the restaurant’s menu is best suited for those who choose to dine in company and share a few meals, so that is precisely what MarieClaire and I did. 

We each started with a snack of our own, with MarieClaire choosing a parmesan panisse with salt-baked avocado cream, while I opted for the devils on horseback, a serving of onion confit on toast. Both INCREDIBLY delicious. We proceeded to share two dishes, being Scottish mussels cooked in ginger, cider and passion fruit, and linguine from Gragnano with smoked ricotta, walnuts and piment d’Espelette. At this point, I had vowed to not lick the plates clean so as to leave room for the next course, but failed to do so successfully thanks to our delightful servings.

We then each enjoyed our own individual meal, since MarieClaire and I have very different culinary preferences. I chose the beef yakitori with satay glaze and onion garni, while she went for the chicken waldorf salad. Just writing this is making me salivate at the very thought of it. 

Following what felt like a trillion courses of filling and just downright delectable food, we proceeded to feast on a small selection of international cheeses (my guilty pleasure) and dessert, being chocolate tart accompanied by ice cream made from extra virgin olive oil. Certainly a unique and odd-sounding addition to the menu, but a mouth-watering one nonetheless!

I love a good restaurant, but I don’t often choose to write about one unless the experience is just that extraordinary. But isn’t that the greatest thing about choosing to eat out, as opposed to dining at home? That overall feeling, when the setting is right – and you know me, I am never not seeking the ideal setting. 

Natalya Vukovic