Scrolling through the restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor is to enter a critic old world. It is the place where the critic judges the merits and faults or expresses his or her disapproval on the cuisine, the service and the place itself. We all act as the foodie judge and jury.
Food likes are so personal that it can feel like quite an attack when someone disses your food. I think the way that one decodes people's food likes is more to do with making associations with what they eat. But, come on, at times I like combinations of flavours and textures and Assaggi Food and Wine Restaurant in St. Julians gave us just that. Sometimes flawed questions are worth asking just for fun. Such as this: what is the single, most flavoursome ingredient? It's a silly question, of course, in that taste is largely subjective, and involves ridiculously complex psychological and physiological toings and froings. We all know that flavour perception comes through a complex web of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound, so which food pushes the most sensory buttons in the most broadly appealing way? This we were about to find out as we sat at table.
We came to this restaurant on a recommendation of a dear friend. As we sat down we noticed how dull the place looks. We all felt that there’s something about the restaurant setting that does not encourage relaxed conversation and enjoyment of food and wine. What creates the buzz or mood of a place is indefinable, but it’s an important factor. We feared we made a wrong choice going to Assaggi. BUT then we ended up experiencing the most important aspect of this restaurant– the food.
From the menu I chose a Zuppa of king scallop, local prawn and sea urchin, in a rich saffron fish broth. My wife and our friend Paul preferred a Zuppa of cauliflower and truffles. Both were exceptionally good. Pity we weren’t given a bowl instead of the dainty white porcelain soup plate. In a bowl we would have had more of the heavenly ‘zuppas’. For our main course, our friend settled for an Entrecote of Beef from the ‘Carne Fresca’ selection, whilst we preferred fish form the section ‘Pesce del Giorno’. A fresh sea water Bass cooked al sale for two was what we decided on. My wife would have no meat so we shared the fish. These were served with oven baked potatoes and baked Jerusalem artichokes. We all gave our main dishes 10 out of 10. I always stress that the style of food is a largely matter of taste, but the chef presented us with two fantastic dishes that we really enjoyed eating. Simple cooking with good quality ingredients. Some chefs mistake novelty for innovation, mixing in bizarre combinations of flavours, but not at Assaggi for chef Ivan values authenticity. We finished off with two desserts of home-made fig ice cream. An enjoyable ending to a perfect dinner.
Bill came to €133 covering all the food, 2 bottles of water, 2 espressos and 3 after dinner drinks. We were later offered a free round of drinks on the house. Good to note, that the Restaurant served it clients a complimentary crispy piece of marinated belly of pork before presenting the ordered dishes.
We are happy we went to a restaurant where the proprietor is passionate about food and wine, and whose primary goal is excellence and where service is a key issue unfussy and appropriately attentive.
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