We’ve certainly got our fair share of international cuisine across Malta and Gozo. It’s no wonder that so many people sometimes forget to shop local, learn more about local produce, and look back on what makes Maltese and Gozitan cuisine so unique and culturally-relevant.
That void is, thankfully, no more.
Situated on the quaint Republic Street in history-rich Rabat, Townhouse No. 3 is redefining the traditional Maltese cuisine game. The restaurant is itself both a visual and palatable treat – its premises are two neighbouring townhouses dating back over a century, and Townhouse No. 3 prides itself on delivering a truly Maltese experience.
Lovin Malta had the opportunity to try out some of Townhouse No. 3’s tastiest dishes in their recent Taste Your Island January event. Aimed at highlighting their skills in Mediterranean cuisine whilst promoting local produce, the restaurant dished our a four-course meal, prepared from start to finish with a subtle but distinct Maltese flair.
Kicking off the evening with an aperitif of our choosing, the meal quickly gave way to a series of beautifully-prepared bean spreads, salted butter homemade by the restaurant from local creams, and freshly-baked melt-in-your-mouth sliced bread.
Once we’d had our fill, we were presented our starter. Artfully plated, we were treated basil-and-citrus cured cuts of local swordfish topped with red prawn crudo, pea-shoot and fennel salad, and garnished with delicious lemon-infused oil.
Townhouse No. 3 also ensured that each dish we were served was paired with a locally-produced wine, starting with a Cassar de Malte, a Marsovin Chardonnay.
After our perfectly portioned starter, we headed straight into our pasta dish – exquisite freshly-made pasta stuffed with a mouthwatering complement of braised beef, oyster mushrooms and parmesan cheese, with a generous helping of wild thyme oil. For drinks, we were served a Despatch, a Sangiovese blend by San Niklaw.
Townhouse’s staff were at hand at every step of the way, including the proffer of a brief interlude before settling into our main course. This offered us the perfect opportunity to glance around the restaurant properly. In essence, it is every bit as much a home as the next Rabat townhouse, with architectural features staying true to the building’s age. Cool stone walls, worked wooden tables and chairs, and even the wrought-iron details along the walls hark back to the restaurant’s original homeliness.
The main course was, perhaps, the highlight of the meal. Townhouse No. 3’s eye for size portioning was once again highlighted, and truly commendable. Our dinner consisted of perfectly cooked collar of pork, with pear, apricot and Maltese sausage stuffing, with a side of vegetables and a plating of delicious butter and sage mash. For this dish, we were given another Chardonnay, this time Markus Divinus’ Zareen.
To close things off, dessert was a modern take on the traditional southern Mediterranean sweet, zeppoli. Deep fried, this final course practically burst in our mouth and matched wonderfully with a glaze of almond-scented crème anglaise and thyme honey. The zeppoli were paired with a fruity Meridiana dessert wine, Baltis.
Patron chef Malcolm Bartolo came around to our table at the end of the meal to tell us a little more about Townhouse No. 3 and its history. The two conjoined houses now making up the restaurant premises seem to have been owned by neighbouring relatives, evidenced by the matching initials set above the doors to both buildings. He also mentioned that everything from the milk in the butter, to the wines at table, and even the furniture in the restaurant was produced or made in Malta, with the aim to remain as authentic to their Maltese and Mediterranean ethos as possible.