A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Madliena Lodge

A Chef and a Foodie on Tour: Madliena Lodge

American author and food writer Emily A. Francis and Chef Ariel Guivi 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! This week they make their way to Madliena Lodge, Madliena

One of my personal favourites to go eat out whenever we want to celebrate something, has got to be Madliena Lodge. Their service is spectacular, the ambiance is classic and gorgeous, and the food never disappoints. The menu changes with the seasons, offering three menus per year and daily specials with specific ripe and in-season foods that were acquired that day by Head Chef, Alessio Grech. This place has ample parking, a large and beautiful outdoor area to eat, several sections indoors to accommodate large and small groups, and in summer is often accompanied with a live acoustic guitarist who sings comfortable, easy dining music.

Owners of the operation are brother and sister, Duncan and Liz Barbaro Sant, who took it over in 2015. Because this is a local choice to host several types of occasions and events, people often associate this restaurant with that in mind. However, it is also just as easy to go there on a date, with friends for no occasion at all other than wanting great food with excellent service. It doesn’t have to be anything celebratory and you don’t need to dress up. This is considered smart casual attire.

Weeknights, especially Tuesday through Thursday are much more low-key and will offer alternatives to some of the main menu.

This is also a family-friendly restaurant and my children have always been greeted with a lot of extra fun. For example, should you go with your family, there is a children’s menu and crayons. They also invite well-behaved children to the kitchen where they can assist in scooping their own ice cream! This place also works as hard as it can to accommodate both vegan and gluten-free options. There is always a a vegetarian and vegan item on the snacks, starter, main course and even dessert menu. If there are allergies, they ask that the patrons call ahead and let the chef know so that he can make something that will accommodate that specific situation. This is a home away from home vibe that they work to maintain.

As for the menu: They break it down as snacks, starters, pastas, main course and desserts.

Chef Ariel and I were offered three plates. A starter, a pasta and a main course dish.

To start, we opt for the “Ravjul moqlij”, a vegetarian option. The fried ravioli were stuffed with local sheep cheese, tomato conserve and black garlic, set on top of the brightest olive oil and balsamic glaze. Their olive oil comes from a local family who grows the olives in their orchard for the lodge.

Madliena lodge is working toward a 0KM produce (meaning the produce is grown less than a kilometre from the tables).

Chef Ariel thought that this dish was a wonderful, unique and refreshing take on ravioli being crunchy instead of boiled. The tomato sauce is done as a reduction and the garlic was fermented. Overall, an upgraded version of a local favourite.

Next up: Pasta carbonara. Spathetti di Gragnano “Gentile” with egg yolk, aged parmesan and guanciale. This was a nice light creamy dish with crispy guanciale. Chef Ariel says it was a classic carbonara, well executed. This is the dish you get if you are into the classic pasta dishes done right.

Finally, our main course was the vegan option and it was something I will absolutely order again. In fact, it was extremely fantastic, I will make an extra trip on one of those week nights to enjoy it again! This was the Plantain tostones. The plantains were crispy fried with a light batter that added so much texture and flavour to the plantains. Served with a gold raisin ketchup, jalapeno & carob salsa and Brazil nuts. I am not a fan of jalapeno and can usually taste it even in the smallest amounts. However Chef Alessio prepared it, I loved it! I ate every bite of the plantains and the sauces it came with! This is usually served with triple cooked fries (from fresh local potatoes).

Ariel was extremely impressed with this dish. Especially being a vegan option, he thought this was extremely fresh and new. The flavours were spot on and the mix of the Brasil nuts gave it an extra crunch. The micro herbs it came with added a delightful taste and texture.

As a personal side note, my husband and I usually share the grilled sirloin of Angus beef that comes with white onion, pancetta crumb and smoked charcoal hollandaise and typically with a perfect amount of wilted spinach on the side and those golden local potatoes extra crispy sprinkled with just the right amount of sea salt. Often this is a dish for two and it is always our top choice..though now I’m going to have to rethink that and somehow find room to add in those plantains!

Madliena Lodge is an exceptional restaurant for any occasion. The food is local, the quality is incredibly high and the service can’t be beat!

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