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judging from the way the harbour club sits by the water, overlooking valletta’s stunning grand harbour, one has a hard time imagining that only a few years ago this particular spot was avoided by tourists and the maltese alike. yet architect chris briffa turned the area around with his brilliant remodeling job of a former pet shop (horse stalls and all, mind you) into what might very well be malta’s finest restaurant. using raw, simple materials like steel and wood (the floors are cut from an planks of an old ship formerly operator by harbour club owner charlotte sullivan decorte) and employing the craft of local workers only, briffa brought to life a restaurant that is exquisitely modern and paying hommage to the past at the same time.

chef laszlo sragli’s creations go hand in hand with this approach, jazzing up classics with fresh ideas. his siganture dish is a fantastic green asparagus millefoglie (parmesan cream | caramelised onion | pistachio), but we really fell in love with three of the deliberately small menu’s six starters and could not come up with a clear-cut winner: the tartare of irish black angus beef fillet (parmesan cream | pickled shallot and caper dressing | ciabatta crisps), the squid ink black risotto with calamari two ways, and the wild boar and black truffle lasagne were all delicious. they also come in huge portions – this is malta, after all!

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