The Golden Fork Restaurant Review

The Golden Fork Restaurant Review

Chef Patron: Letizia Vella

When you long for something special; need a little pick-me-up and happily enjoy the finer things in life; The Golden Fork, a culinary gem helmed by Chef Patron Letizia Vella is definitely your answer. Situated in a charming location; within the narrow alleyways of Rabat, this restaurant offers a unique blend of exquisite cuisine, artistic ambiance, and attentive service.

Upon arrival, I’m always captivated by the beautiful architecture of the restaurant – uniquely traditional Maltese features with a modern, updated twist – a tendency noted in Letizia’s menu also. The attentive front-of-house staff warmly greeted us and led us to our table, setting the stage for an extraordinary dining experience.

The Golden Fork offers an array of menu options, including à la carte and Tasting Menu, we opted for the tasting menu, eager to embark on a culinary journey curated by Chef Letizia Vella based solely on ingredient choice – that is the consistent factor on this Tasting Menu. Every service plays with those ingredients; goose, octopus, beetroot, prawn, local fish, pigeon and Vella’s classic brioche.

The gastronomic adventure commenced with an amuse-bouche of Goose, which set the tone for the extraordinary flavours to follow. The iconic Foie Gras Macaron, is always the perfect first bite at The Golden Fork – where the smooth and creamy foie gras complements caramelized walnuts for a sweet and salty combination. The journey continued with the glorious Goats Cheese Cigar, featuring a smooth and deep flavour in the cream. The crisp casing provided a delightful contrast, while the shavings offered a rich and salty umami experience.

Next, a Spinach Puff that showcased the richness and creaminess of fresh, local spinach. Its earthy and smooth profile was elevated by a hint of minerals and salt. The super-crisp shell added a satisfying crunch, enhancing the overall texture. Accompanying the amouse bouche was a homemade croissant, speckled with poppy seeds and served with a duo of house butters. Always the same, but always different. What sorcery! 

To pair with the earlier dishes on the Tasting Menu, the house sommelier Jean Carl Grech presented us with a 2021 Pacherhof Kerner; gently integrating with the smoothness in the Amuse Bouche and the nuttiness of the Octopus. The bold aromas of stone fruit and citrus as well as earthy, mushroom notes add depth to this sophisticated palate. The Kerner is also quite high in acidity and leans toward the drier side. 

The first course, featuring Octopus, was a delightful symphony of tastes and textures. Puffed wild rice, nutty and fragrant, enticed the palate. The tender and firm octopus meat was cleverly held in place by a crisp tempura. The accompanying sauces, one fresh and tart with a zesty citrus jel and the other rich and sweet with a port gel, provided a tantalizing juxtaposition. The gummy tentacle embodied the true essence of octopus flavour, offering a delightful contrast. This dish truly showcased the Chef’s ability to masterfully combine aroma, texture, and seasoning.

Moving on, we savoured the second course, which highlighted the vibrant flavours of Beetroot. The barracuda carpaccio wrapped in the equally thin beetroot; provided a mineral and fleshy creaminess, while the pickled beetroot introduced a delightful blend of acidity and earthy sweetness. The slow-cooked beetroot exhibited a rich and natural flavour, enhanced by a well-balanced vinaigrette. A crowning bite of sea urchin transported me to the pure essence of the sea, with its saline and Marsaxlokk-inspired notes. 

The third course featured Prawn, an ingredient that was artfully presented and bursting with flavour. The crunchy cracker provided a textural contrast, while the deep prawn head bisque infused the tender rice with a richness that was perfectly cooked. The prawn itself was sweet, juicy, and undeniably pure in taste. A risotto presented as elegantly as they come. A Bordeaux Blanc wine made its way to our table; just as the palates needed cleansing and the last bottle was entirely exhausted. A 2020 Chateau Grand Village, pairing blissfully with the earthy, yet saline textures we would soon embark on. A light bodied wine with dry palate and notes of peach, honey and grapefruit to take you to magical places. 

Continuing the seafood journey, the fourth course showcased a masterful preparation of Amberjack with leek velouté, marrow, and textures of celeriac. The fish was remarkably meaty and tender, offering a subtle and turgid experience. The soft herb provided a refreshing cleanse, while the marrow delivered a light and aromatic flavour with an underlying beany taste. The dish exuded delicate and fragrant notes, with a hint of floral essence. The accuracy and delicate nature of the leek were truly commendable, painting a perfect picture of the Chef’s attention to detail.

The final savoury course featured Pigeon, a dish that impressed with its gamey and tender breast meat. The accompanying sauce, reminiscent of yeast extract with a touch of XO sauce, added a depth of flavour. The juiciness and tenderness of the liver were unparalleled, and the neutral flavour profile was far from offensive. The kidney, while offering a unique texture, was enhanced by the addition of a green herb oil. The asparagus provided a pleasantly astringent and slightly bitter note, further heightened by the charred elements. The side dish of potato was layered elegantly and boasted a soft, luscious, and buttery texture, topping off the dish with its delightful salted butter overtone.

Before diving into the realm of desserts, a pre-dessert palate cleanser in the form of Imqaret awaited. This bite-sized treat featured a limoncello crème and a fragrant rose water foam, offering a refreshing interlude between courses. The dates, with their caramelized cookie dough-like texture, serving a sweet and satisfying conclusion to this delightful pre-dessert.

To close off the dream-like dinner that swept us away with savoury, sweet and textural notes; all seasoned with elegance and finesse; we dug the kitchen’s deepest spoons into Chef Letizia’s Brioche. Pillowy chewiness, burnt butter and caramel, heightened comfort and the most joyous of endings. A word of advice; every dessert I’ve ever tried at The Golden Fork was excellent; but make sure to order a Brioche, extra for the table.  

Dining at The Golden Fork was an extraordinary experience that combined artistry, culinary expertise, and exceptional service. Chef Patron Letizia Vella’s menus; as yes, I have tried them all; showcase a deep understanding of flavours and textures, elevating each ingredient to its full potential.

Review written by

Kristina Cassar Dowling

HORECA Reviews are based on the experience of the diners on their particular visit. The nature of these reviews is based on the publication’s expertise in the industry, but also highlights the reviewer’s opinions and preferences. The aim of HORECA Reviews is to showcase culinary talent, to give the hospitality industry insight on their patron’s experience and areas for improvement as well as to celebrate the strive for excellence within the sector.

The Golden Fork

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The Golden Fork