time to explore with esplora

A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Fins & Gills

A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Fins & Gills

Take a journey with Emily Francis (Emily in Malta) and Chef Ariel Guivi,  two foreign tour guides to the island of Malta, who flock from one restaurant to the other in search of an authentic dining experience. The best-kept secrets of eating in Malta are about to be shared here with all of you! 

Chef Ariel Guivi and I make our way to Fins & Gills, a little gem that serves big flavours in St. Pauls Bay. You walk right up to the window and place your order and then David Borg and his trusty sidekick, Victor Castillo, will prepare the fish made to order. These guys are so fantastic and they treat everyone with such kindness and a welcoming attitude. They embody what I think an authentic seafood restaurant so close to the water should offer.

the menu

Their daily menu consists of five standard meals, two of which are fish and chips. One is made with the signature cod and the other with fresh caught perch. The perch is caught along the coast of Italy and is brought over to the restaurant without having to be frozen before being fried up and served. This gives Fins and Gills an edge on the fish and chips market if you are looking for crisp, flakey, fresh and delicious fish and chips. This is not to say that other places that offer frozen cod and a beautiful batter are not amazing as well, because there are a lot of incredible fish and chips restaurants along this island. In our column however, we are looking to focus on the places that use locally sourced ingredients as the mainstay of why we want to interview them and share their stories with all of you.

Their secondary menu consists of whatever the fresh catch of the day right out of our sea at St. Pauls Bay may be. This part of the menu changes daily. The day we came to visit, we not only got to eat my favourite perch and chips, but we also got to sample the most incredible, fresh, perfectly grilled-to-order swordfish that had just come in less than an hour before.

Here is where Fins and Gills gets lucky: across the street is the fresh fish shop, Connies. Not only do they fish every morning bright and early to put the freshest caught fish available out for its customers, but Connie also happens to be Davids mother! Talk about a win win combination right there.

Not only did we get to eat the most delectably fresh and delicious swordfish, but while we were there they brought in a brand-new large piece of fresh tuna!

When you visit Fins and Gills, be ready to get any one of the five regular menu items, or ask about the fish of the day on their secondary menu.

Cod and chips

the Fried Perch and Chips

The fish and chips at Fins and Gills, both perch or cod, consist of a large portion of fish and chips served up in a box with a lemon wedge and a container of tangy and delicious tartar sauce. What our chef Ariel Guivi noticed is that the paper beneath the piece of fish that separates the fish from the chips was not oily. The fish is not greasy, but instead light and flaky. He noticed that you can tell by the taste that it is fresh fish. An important thing to look out for in any fish and chips place; when taking that bite into the fish, see if the fish is slightly separated from the batter or if it’s mushy and sticks together. In our case, there was a beautiful separation between the fish and the crust. We could see that the batter didn’t stick to the fish, which is what we are looking for. The firm fish inside prevents it from becoming mushy.

The batter was very thin, which we both agree is a great choice. You could hear the crispiness in each and every bite as we ate our pieces. In most traditional British style fish and chips, the batter tends to be much thicker, but Chef Ariel and myself both preferred this method of preparation. It didn’t leave us feeling overly full because the batter was so light and crispy without that extra added greasy feeling.

the swordfish

The swordfish was grilled and not battered of fried. The portion was served with a drizzle of fresh parsley, a lemon wedge and two little fish on top. The swordfish was flaky, fresh, light and scrumptious. Though I always order the perch and chips from Fins and Gills, I would likely have to reconsider and order the swordfish when it shows up on the menu as well.

I highly recommend visiting this  little takeaway spot in St. Paul’s Bay or ordering on your local delivery sites for your next fish and chips or other fresh seafood endeavors.

If you’re looking to purchase a fresh catch to take home and prepare yourself, visit Connie across the street!

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