Thursday, April 24, 2014

Malta's Best New Restaurant: The Harbour Club

It's been awhile since I was excited enough about a restaurant to blog about it. And, let's be honest, sometimes when you find a good restaurant you want to keep it to yourself, lest it be overrun and you can no longer get a table. But I think The Harbour Club (opened in January 2014) is doing something so good in Valletta that I can't keep my mouth shut about it.

Designed by my favourite Maltese architect, Chris Briffa, The Harbour Club is one of those rare places that masterfully blends old and new, re-purposing an old fort across from Ta Liesse church into a unique dining experience.

The Harbour Club is a multifunctional, three tiered space with a beautiful bar, al fresco terrace, a bright dining room with views of the Grand Harbour, and a subterranean jazz bar. And Briffa's signature style bathrooms, of course (yes he has those).

It is at once warm and cool, as all my favourite spaces are. And you'll never believe what it looked like before!

It's not just the architecture here that's wonderful -- the food is worthy of note, too. We came here for afternoon drinks and fell so in love with its extensive list of Belgian beers and its house-smoked salmon that we immediately booked a space for dinner later that night.

...during which we ingested between us citrus ravioli with sage, 17 hour slow cooked lamb shanks and pureed potato with tumeric, roasted Maltese potatoes, grilled sea bream, grilled zucchini, steamed vegetables with fuq (local beans), and tripel Belgian beer and Italian Chianti. Oof.

The sign of a good meal in a digital age? There is no photographic evidence, because great food makes you forget about your camera (but never your phone).

For dinner we requested to sit in the subterranean jazz bar, which I assume from its shape is giving new life to a centuries old cistern.

We were completely alone down there - for the first and last time, I'm sure - except for a troop of attentive staff. Surrounded by rough, white walls and bathed in soft light, it was magic.

It is a joy to see more places like this opening in Malta, and Valletta in particular, where restauranteurs and designers are getting more intentional about the spaces and plates they create.

It won't come as a surprise to me when, in a decade or so, Malta becomes a bit of a culinary and design capital in the Mediterranean. The Harbour Club and Chris Briffa are leading the way.

Book your tables now, before you can't get one anymore (sorry not sorry).


WHERE: Barriera Wharf, Valletta, below Victoria Gate and across from Ta Liesse Church
(if you have to give directions to a cab driver, just say Ta Liesse Church)
HOW MUCH: A dinner for two with appetizers, mains, dessert and drinks was less than 100 euro.
WHEN: Dinner seems to start at 7 pm, and the terrace appears open on weekends for lunch and drinks. Since the restaurant just opened there are no set opening hours as of yet.
CONTACT: +356 7922 2332 or +356 2122 2332 or Facebook


  1. You just made Malta jump to the top of my "must visit" list with this review. What a gorgeous restaurant! And the food looks phenomenal. And Belgian beer, and Italian wine? Oof is right :)

  2. Wow - looks like a very cool place, indeed.

    We've seen Malta pop up regularly in our travel magazines lately - looks to be creating a bit of buzz. Joe even suggested that maybe we might need to check it out ;-)


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