L’Enclume restaurateur Simon Rogan has announced the opening of ION Harbour, a new “hyper-local” eatery in the Maltese capital of Valletta.
While the Mediterranean island is a long way from the Lake District, ION Harbour is actually Rogan’s second international opening, after chef’s table experience Aulis Hong Kong was unveiled in December 2018.
The new restaurant is situated on top of the five-star Iniala Harbour House Hotel, overlooking the city’s famous harbour.
A statement from Rogan said: “Since our first overseas opening in Hong Kong, we’ve been working on how our principles can be adapted to different climates and cultures around the world. Our ethos is guided by hyper-local ingredients that are harvested, fished or foraged by the best and most sustainable regional producers, and we will continue that wherever we go.”
“In Malta,” the statement continued, “we have identified the very best like-minded suppliers, and have worked with experts to discover small-scale, sustainable producers including spear fishermen, and a third generation salt farmer in Gozo. We also work with a specialist forager who assists with the identification of native plant varieties in the wild.”
Head chef Eoin Smith and executive chef Oli Marlow’s food borrows both from traditional Maltese cooking, and popular dishes at Rogan’s other restaurants. The sample 13-course tasting menu (at €135 per person) includes the likes of a white pork and eel doughnut, not-so-local Orkney scallops, and ‘ION’, a recreation of L’Enclume’s famous miso caramel mousse with the addition of Maltese Bambinella pear.
The lunch menu offers bread, a starter, main and a glass of wine for €45 per person. Among the dishes here are Gozo chicken with Maltese sausage, raw bream in coal oil, and strawberries from Malta’s Tǎ Qali market, served with bee pollen cake, marigold and milk cream.
The wine offering includes by-the-glass options (starting at €10 for a 125ml glass of Argali Rosé) and flights (either €90 for a ‘taster flight’, or €150 for the more premium ‘select flight’, both featuring eight wines each).
As for bottles, there are a number of Maltese wines, in keeping with Rogan’s emphasis on local produce, though made using international varieties. These range from Marsovin Cassar de Malte (a traditional method brut sparkling made from Chardonnay), to the Philippe Villiers (Syrah and Cabernet Franc), from Ta’ Betta Wine Estates.
The rest of the list is populated by producers from both the northern and southern hemispheres, with there even being representation of Rogan’s home country in the form of English brand Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvée.
This article was originally published by the drinks business and has been shared with permission.