Valletta is glowing up in the best way possible and have just welcomed a new boutique concept restaurant that is tailored to fit any culinary desire you may have.
The full concept includes three different digs: Grain (a bistro at street level), minus one (underGrain) and the rooftop (overGrain). While the latter two have yet to open, Grain have already started serving some absolutely exquisite dishes to the public at street level.
The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with a window display tailored with intricate finery, and provides anyone who enters their doors with a casual dining experience. You’ll feel like you’re sitting in a New York eatery with the nuvibe/vintage mashup of interior design.
When a tailor shears, they stick to the grain so as not to fray their material.
Grain are certainly adopting that mentality in their approach to the menu. When they made the decision to dive into Valletta’s culinary bubble, they found several comparisons between tailoring as a trade and the service of fine food. In an era dominated by automation and convenience, the chefs wanted to honour the skills their hands were born with – like a big fat middle finger to the motorised bypassing of human creativity.
Photo credit: Grazielle Camilleri (@graziellecamilleri)
The menu is small, but don’t let that fool you. The back-of-house team have crafted a seamless compendium of edible experiences for your palette to choose from. They offer up light snacks, like their devils on horseback with an onion confit on toast or their parmesan panisse (a light cake made from gram flour) with a spread of salt-baked avocado cream.
The food sounds intense, and it is, but in the most honest and authentic of ways.
They’re salt-baking, serving charcuterie, triple-cooking their wedges (skin-on, as well!!), slicing through plates and just generally teasing our stomachs as we write.
They have a particular fancy for ‘nduja butter, which is derived from a spreadable spiced pork salumi from Italy and it’s a blissful fresh spin that finishes a lot of their dishes with just the right amount of pizzazz, without feeling too audacious. Balance is key when it comes to both flavours and fashion, and again, this shines a light on their tailoring vibe.
The menu’s centre focus is sharing. They want this place to be your regular haunt for a bite to eat, an espresso, or a quick drink with colleagues after work.
The mid-point of the menu extends on the aspect of tailors and chefs both working in teams to create one piece worthy of the other’s perusal. To share or not to share, that is the question. The answer? It’s up to you, really, but the variety offered is something that might definitely convince you to pass your plate and play swapsies with the person next to you.
The underdog of the menu has to be their Scottish mussels (fresh, daily) cooked in ginger, cider and passion fruit.
You’d think it wouldn’t work but it so does and we want to sing it from the rooftops (we might just when they open). It’s a sweet, but savoury-sweet, twist on what could a moules-frites if you get their wedges on the side.
Breakfast is also served in conjunction with the attached hotel, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from grabbing a salmon royale if you’re feeling peckish in the mornings.
They also blow-torch a burrata and sprinkle the finest hazelnuts from Piedmont over, and that’s served with a vibrant (salt-baked again) beet. And their Waldorf salad? We won’t spoil that surprise – you’ll have to head to Merchant Street and make it your new joint to find out…