From the moment we walked stepped through the door, I felt I was not just another guest at some restaurant. I felt truly welcome and was greeted with a genuine smile, like we were regular patrons who entered for dinner for the umpteenth time.
After helping me with my chair, I was handed the menu and listed with the specialities of the day. Our waiter, Salvatore, was asked by one of my companions if she should opt for gnocchi or risotto that day. Although this may seem a very normal question, what impressed me was the clear knowledge from Salvatore’s end, with helping my friend reach a decision.
Pro’s and con’s were weighed to ensure she would not be disappointed. I was told afterwards that Salvatore prides himself in knowing every single ingredient for every single dish, and has studied and tried the full menu, so he can correctly guide his guests. Christina asked us if we cared for wine and water, and was happy to recommend a bottle of L’Avenir 2016, a South African Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch to complement our food.
Now the food…. there is so much to say about food, so much in fact that I can easily fill two, three or even four pages (alongside a good number of recipes I may try out), but chances are I may make you hungry enough to stop reading and go get something to eat.
From the divine starters, to the hearty main courses and delicious dessert, everything was professionally prepared and beautifully presented — almost too pretty to eat.
The beef roulade with truffle powder and Julep gel was offered at the recommendation of the chef, and set the tone for the meal right there.
We were then presented with the king crab, served with grapefruit pulp and carefully wrapped in the most thinly sliced melon I have probably ever seen — balancing light flavours, like a fresh reminder of summer, but in a delicate wrap.
Then the beautifully presented sous vide of salmon with roasted mango followed alongside a vanilla chicken liver parfait with a super light creamy texture that simply melts on your tongue, which was, well, almost perfect really.
This was all served with freshly baked bread, still hot from the oven, accompanied with homemade truffle and unsalted butter, all served on the side.
Magnificent Main Courses
Our main courses were a creamy risotto, with heirloom tomato, green pulses and baby spinach, secondly milk fed veal rib eye with spinach and wild mushrooms accompanied by a thyme jus and thirdly, a mixed shellfish marinière. This last one was my main course, and consisted of a rich mix of mussels, clams, prawns and langoustines, prepared in a shallot and herb fumet.
What I was served with, exceeded my expectations. The clams were a mix of razor and vongole clams, fresh mussels (excellently cleaned of beards and any outer growth), prawns and delectable langoustines, served with just right toasted bread and a fumet I wanted to spoon out and ask a second serving of. It was just right strong in taste, and infused with the juices of the shellfish so there was no doubt the chef and his team knew what he was doing — balancing out the flavours of the shell fish with shallots and, no doubt, mandatory garlic.
And then, last but oh so not least, dessert, or should I call it, “tickling our taste buds?”
We were presented with a white chocolate fondant, which as I cut into it oozed warm creamy chocolate, and was accompanied by a yummy spiced sponge and a simply divine strawberry sorbet. My companion’s ginger and coconut opera torte, plated with coconut jelly cubes and alphonso fruit juice. Both dishes left us only wanting more after we cleared our plates clean.
A very well prepared cappuccino rounded the meal up just right.
As in life, nothing is perfect and there are some small remarks that I feel can be changed to improve the dining overall. One of these things is that I think the king crab combination of the juicy king crab with the fresh grapefruit would rather fit on a summer menu that a winter menu. Secondly, although comfortable to sit and relax in, the chairs are a bit heavy to easily move about and get out from, which I felt made me a tad less elegant that I would have liked to have been.
But please, these are such small things which should not put you off from visiting Taro.
I am a bit of a stickler for service, and unfortunately, it is not always given the attention it truly deserves. I have had dinner in casual “around the corner” places and proper silver service, both on this and the opposite side of the globe (while also training in restaurant service during my hotel management studies at University in Brussels), so I feel that I can kind of judge service. For me personally, service can actually make or break a meal.
So how did I feel about the service at Taro? One, OK, two words can only describe what I experienced: simply delightful. A perfect, delicate balance between discreet and elegant, which can only be described as exquisite and pure fine dining. This was evident by the fact our glasses were never empty, my shell waste bowl was replaced twice without having to ask, a finger bowl appeared out of nowhere for me, and any crumbs left on our table after our meal were swiftly cleared off the table. And of course, the personal attention of the charming General Manager Alex Incorvaja cannot be left unmentioned, greeting every single guest in the restaurant.
Now that I am at the end of this review, and I am making myself hungry for more ‘Taro’, I can only say that I did not have a dinner at Taro. I had an exquisite dining experience, because calling it a dinner simply does not do it justice.
‘Taro’, located in Balluta Bay, is named after the exotic Taro Root, a global cuisine favourite which is believed to have been one of the earliest ever cultivated vegetables. It is part of Le Méridien St. Julian’s Hotel & Spa, and offers a dining experience to both in-house and non-resident guests alike. Taro won an impressive 28 awards , 2 trophies and a shield during the most recent Vivanda Chef Challenges, Food & more at MFCC Ta’Qali, as per local reports.