Having left their beautiful bistro in Lija, the team from Bahia are now proudly installed at their new location in the elegant Corinthia Palace Hotel, San Anton, Balzan.
All the original team are here, as well as plenty of new recruits; when you take a lift to the first floor they greet you with warm smiles and lead you into the beautifully appointed cocktail lounge.
Bahia is named after the prestigious navel orange which is proudly grown in the region, and a preserved orange tree sits at the centre of one of the dining rooms. The other room features an open kitchen and both areas are bright, elegant and incredibly comfortable.
Table are well-spaced and laid with bespoke fitted tablecloths, while cutlery is cleverly secreted in the drawer beneath. Service is perfectly orchestrated by the eager-to-please team, and they and their guests are all under the watchful eye of affable manager, Rebecca.
Head Chef Tyrone Mizzi offers three menus – Past, Present and Future – and guests must pick the corresponding metal tube (copper, steel or carbon fibre) from the unique table arrangement to signify their choice. Past and Future are seven-course surprise tasting menus (although diners may see the menu if they wish), while Present is their à la carte menu. Vegans and vegetarians are not forgotten, with both a vegan tasting menu and a vegan à la carte available too.
This menu takes diners back in time with sophisticated dishes inspired by various periods in Maltese history, even going back as far as the Stone Age and the Romans. These dishes demonstrate not only the diverse Maltese heritage but also the intelligent and creative approach of this talented kitchen.
An example from the Phoenicians (712 BC – 280 BC) is a stunning dish of local barley cooked in ‘Melqart’ (wine) with lamb bacon, sheep's cheese and tomato confit.
One of Malta’s most traditional dishes is represented on the Knights Hospitallers’ section of the menu (1530 – 1798). A slow-cooked saddle of rabbit – which would have been what the rich ate – contrasts cleverly with what the poor might have eaten: a rabbit leg & offal ‘Roġġ’ pastry tart, which comes with an unctuous garlic, chive & spinach purée and a silky sauce Bordelaise.
This tasting menu allows diners to explore new, sometimes daring combinations of flavours in dishes which push boundaries. Examples include ‘Froġa tat-Tarja’ with capellini in black pepper emulsion, and ‘Braġjolu’ with ham hock, beef short rib, daikon, smoked celeriac and confit egg yolk. For dessert, they serve a beautiful take on the classic ‘Imqaret’ with almond & aniseed extra virgin olive oil cake, date & orange purée, ‘Imqaret’ mousse, and almond ice cream – topped with the finest Florentines.
This seasonally changing à la carte menu naturally focuses on local ingredients delivered in a contemporary vein. You can choose two or three courses from dishes such as smoked rabbit ravioli, with sea vegetables, onions in lacto milk stout, cherry stone clams and Granny Smith apples, or ‘Itakuja’ – a molten chocolate tart with ‘Bahia’ orange sorbet.
The team at Bahia are at the forefront of the changing face of gastronomy on the beautiful island of Malta and we applaud their desire to push forward. This is not a team who like to rest on their laurels and we look forward to seeing more of what they have to offer in 2022 – remembering the Past, enjoying the Present and excited for the Future.
The MICHELIN Guide Malta 2022 will be launched on Wednesday 23rd February! Click here for all the latest news.