Restaurant review | Sunday, 22 November 2009

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Ain’t no mountain high enough

I’ve become really lazy and now, if I can’t park close by, I think twice about going somewhere. This is one of the things to change about myself in my (currently in draft) New Year resolutions. So with a booking at Terrazza in Spinola Bay, I chanced my luck to see just how close I could get to the property. After an exciting bit of parking (old car, steep hill, sea... I’ll leave the rest to your imagination) I arrived within a short and very pretty walk of the restaurant – boats resting, teenagers kissing, tourists talking, parking cameras watching, luzzu floating on the glass-like sea with their lights reflecting off the clear water. You are just close enough to see life but feel privileged and just far away enough not to be disturbed by human noise, the terrazza of Terrazza invites you to sit and watch the world go by. I suddenly missed the summer.
With a glass of red I waited for my friend but, being a bit of a wimp, I chose to sit inside, even though two groups seemed happy enough under the heaters on the terrace. I know that I get whingy if cold, tired or hungry, and heaven help anyone close by to me if any of these combine.
Friendly staff cooed and fussed over the guests, practised their French and apart from checking in every so often, left me in peace with my notebook. I whipped to the bathroom anticipating my friends’ imminent arrival to find a work-in-progress sign. I asked the elegant and eloquent chief about this and she said (in her unidentifiable accent) they were refurbishing. The restaurant is open all day, every day and such time demands mean the interior has entered that phase of shabby chic – reminiscent of a drawing room, once loved and once fashionable. The decor is unusual. The most beautiful blue coloured walls with trompe l’oeil decals and corbels. Bottles and bottles of wines lay, stand, and jostle for position in every nook and cranny, giving the impression they are treasured vintages with their dusty shoulders and giving you just a peek of their aged label.
I had simply opted for a large glass of red and was brought the Eno from Marsovin a blend of Cabernet Syrah Gellewza if you please, which I topped up later in the evening. My friend arrived and ordered a glass of Chenin Blanc. Terrazza offers every wine they sell by the glass, which is novel and good for a midweek meal out, or if you are the type to change your mind or taste with your course. Really liked this idea.
The food is homely with a twist and real pride and honesty is evident. It is proper food. Food to eat when you are hungry, not just out. The zealous chef’s specials left me far from bored and tempted me with their proffered beef and chicken livers with honey (€9.75). A generous serving came on a bed of split lentils whose nutty taste complimented the soft offal, in fact, in eating these, I actually gave my friend chance to speak. There was a bit of a kick in there too (from the food not my friend). Not a subtle accidental tap on the shin – an “oh, that’s sweet WOW that’s sweet in a spicy kind of way” kick and straight to the lips. Left them humming throughout. Good start in my books!
My friend took the chicken liver ravjul with mushroom sauce (€9.25) which I thought was a tad doughy but she thought they were “really delightful, very tasteful with a lot of flavours, all different a bit spicy but sweet, quite a unique concoction.”
Onto the mains where I had chosen the veggie dish, two towers of vegetables melded together with cheese (€14.95). They looked stunning and really healthy – I identified Jerusalem artichokes, aubergines and leek, roasted butternut squash all in there. And I managed just one. May have had something to do with the proper holey Maltese bread that I mopped the juices of the livers up with. The basket of proper holey Maltese bread, I should have said. Or the fact that the dessert board was blatantly showing off its wares, and I just couldn’t turn my eyes away, just in case the choices disappeared off to the crowd by the sea. For friends and other afflicted (I jest) with vegetarianism, this would be an impressive dish to dish up and us carnivores would be easily satisfied with a meatless sitting if this was the prepared meal.
My friend went all-out on the carnivore vote with a gout sufferer’s nightmare/fantasy. A bit like the Russian Doll Roast which I believe is a flock of about 15 foul artistically stuffed into one another starting with a Bec-Figue and ending in a Bustard, Terrazza served a pork fillet, stuffed with a Maltese sausage and wrapped in pancetta (€17.95). Not rocket science to work out, it was satisfying to salt fiend. I don’t know where she puts it, with the side dishes of vegetables and potatoes, she took it all on.
The chalked desserts were still on the board. Cheesecake: check; panna cotta: check; tiramisu: check; Nutella cake: check; Toblerone mousse: check mate. There was no moving on this one. I had it in my sights and it was going to be captured. It came in a Martini glass delicately balanced on a plate with squiggles of sauce. Pretty. But, is it not the season of goodwill? Use the Himalayan sized Toblerone and serve this mousse in a pint glass I say. Or a glass that you could actually get your fingers – if not your face in to. It was only €2.75, but I would have paid more, way more, for way more.
My friend ordered the Nutella cake (€3.50) which was still warm in the tin (I bet they cursed her for wanting to cut into it), hazelnuts evident on the top and her comments were that it was good but was lacking in chocolate. Now you may think this is a typical female never having enough of something, especially chocolate, but I tasted it too and have to agree that the layer of Nutella about a centimetre up, could have been repeated at least twice. Maybe we are just greedy and spoiled. Maybe it’s not scientifically possible, but is it not worth a try? She did however urge me not to forget to mention the home-made ice cream. Mention I can – as I had no chance of a spoonful.
We remained friends and lucky too as I needed a little bit of guidance to get me out of my
car parking place. It could have been worse, the tide could have come in – a rare occurrence I am assured. Or I could have left the handbrake off, which would have spoiled the evening somewhat. But I, the car and Terrazza’s positon in my mental top 10 left intact.

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