Grain Street was awarded a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand in the MICHELIN Guide Malta 2022. It joined three other restaurants which all retained their Bib Gourmand distinctions: Terrone in Birgu; Rubino in Valletta; and Commando in Mellieħa.
Although perhaps not as well-known as the MICHELIN Star, the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand is a big hit with our readers. It is named after Bibendum – otherwise known as the MICHELIN Man – and was introduced into the MICHELIN Guide in 1997 to highlight restaurants offering great quality, great value cooking.
While there’s no set formula for a Bib Gourmand restaurant, what ‘Bibs’ have in common is their simpler style of cooking, which is easy-to-eat and often something you feel you could attempt to replicate at home. A MICHELIN Bib Gourmand restaurant also leaves you with a certain sense of satisfaction at having eaten so well at such a reasonable price.
Hidden away in Valletta’s old merchant’s district, there are three parts to Grain: Under, Over and Street.
Under Grain was awarded a MICHELIN Star in 2020, in the inaugural MICHELIN Guide Malta. As suggested by its name, it is a cellar restaurant, and it serves classic Mediterranean dishes with harmonious flavours and a modern edge.
Over Grain is a contemporary cocktail bar whose stunning rooftop setting offers views out over Valletta and across the harbour: head here for a pre- or post-prandial drink al fresco.
Bib Gourmand recipient, Grain Street, is a smart, brightly decorated restaurant situated on street level. It shares the same chef as MICHELIN-Starred Under Grain – Victor Borg – who, having won a Star in 2020, decided to reimagine this ground floor space, which formerly acted as the street-level entrance to the basement restaurant. The pedestrianisation of Merchant’s Street allowed for the construction of a smart new pavement terrace, which also adds to its appeal.
The menu at Grain Street offers a great deal of flexibility, and diners can choose as many or as few dishes as they fancy – to share (or not to share) as the mood takes them. Cooking is generous yet refined, with Mediterranean flavours and some welcome hints of originality, and diners can eat very well indeed for a modest price – the true definition of the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand award.
Snacks could include ‘pigs in a blanket’ (sausage rolls) or fish croquettes, with a choice of charcuterie alongside. Mains focus on locally caught fish, with a choice of pasta dishes and plenty of meat for the carnivores; perhaps milk-fed veal ‘Milanese’ or an ‘assiette’ of local rabbit.
Desserts have an old-school appeal with the likes of trifle, chocolate brownie and frangipane on offer. The wine list, which is updated seasonally, features just over 20 wines – each available by the glass – and, just as on the à la carte, prices are eminently reasonable.
Attentive, friendly service comes from staff who are patently proud of what they have to offer and only too happy to share their knowledge and expertise.