The summer menu at Sliema’s newest go-to foodie destination is a feast for the senses.
Earlier this year, Fernandõ Gastrotheque in Sliema received its first MICHELIN Star. But rather than resting on their laurels, the team behind the exceptional restaurant see the recognition as just the first step in Fernandõ’s exciting journey.
Restaurant Manager Augustė Stlugaitė has been with Fernandõ from the beginning, serving as manager from 2020 till October 2022. After a brief stint away from the island, she’s back at the helm, describing the return as a homecoming. “I was lucky enough to grow together with Fernandõ, to see and experience all the changes,” she smiles.
Restaurant Manager Augustė Stlugaitė
She describes the restaurant’s remarkable achievement as truly demonstrating the team's exceptional dedication and expertise, affirming that, “the impact of the Michelin recognition has been transformative for the team. It serves as a symbol of our commitment to creating exceptional dining experiences and memorable moments for our guests.”
Following the recognition, Augustė is excited to share what's next for Fernandõ. “We're aiming high and staying focused to strategically expand our reach and introduce new concepts. My goal is to lead the team in continuous learning and empowerment, to stay at the forefront of industry trends and exceeding the expectations of every guest who walks through our doors.”
Meanwhile, Head Chef Kurt Micallef joined Fernandõ the very same day the news was announced that the restaurant had been awarded the MICHELIN star. “I was two hours into prep when we received the news,” he shares, describing it as “super exciting as this put things into perspective into the direction we needed to head to.”
Describing his first few months as challenging – acclimatising to a new kitchen, new brigade, and new characters – the restaurant also got busy fast, so the team had to adapt quickly. “My plan for Fernandõ is to keep the work going and fine tune the details that matter to make a better dining experience for our guests. I want the place to be busy every day, and be a foodies’ go-to place,” Kurt says.
Head Chef Kurt Micallef
Bringing bags of experience and an excellent repertoire of skills to the role, he’s certainly equipped to do it. Apart from new and energetic additions to the team, the chef has added a few more dishes to the tasting menu, making for a better and more cohesive flow.
“The food has changed quite drastically, as it has my mark on it now,” he states, adding that, while it may look simple on the plate, a lot of thought and work has been put into each dish on the menu. “The food is adapted to the seasons and is lighter at this time of year. The goal is to keep on learning and growing together – every day, something new is being worked on in the kitchen and front of house, with the idea to always improve on what has been done before and exceed guests’ expectations,” Kurt says.
“The food that I am bringing to Fernandõ is the food that I like to eat – big, bold flavours that still feel light at the end of the meal. It is based on European cuisine with a ‘world’ view inspired by my travels, food memories and chefs that I admire… always with the goal of being delicious,” the Head Chef explains, and having had the opportunity to sample the seasonal tasting menu on a recent visit, I can confirm that he has succeeded.
“As I always tell my chefs in the kitchen, the flavour is what will be remembered. I think that the food we are producing now is showcasing creativity, technique and elevating ingredients to another level,” he says. Once again, I tend to agree.
Of the seven courses presented to us, there were several standouts, with the meal proceeding like a glorious symphony – getting better and stronger, with each dish complementing the last. From the delectable Gillardeau Oyster Bavarois and surprisingly tasty local cherry tomato salad to the delicious Wild Fish ‘Veronique’, we were hard pressed to pick a favourite.
Several times throughout the meal, my dining partner and I would look across the table to each other and say, ‘this is definitely the best one’ – only to swallow our words and say the exact same thing upon being presented with the next plate of delectable food.
Given the restaurant’s stellar reputation for wine, and reluctant to choose just one of the incredible selection of wines on offer from across the globe, we opted for wine pairing with our meal, and we weren’t disappointed. Our dedicated sommelier was on hand to explain the provenance and reasoning behind each choice, and all married exceptionally well with the complex flavours of each dish.
“Our new menu is very dynamic and detailed focused,” Augustė says, with the chefs presenting a new dish every week. “It is more interesting and more challenging for the team in front of house and most importantly, our guests always have something new to try out!”
As incorrigible foodies, this poses a problem, of course – instilling a persistent curiosity to discover what comes next, for fear of missing out. It is a problem which the capable team at Fernandõ will delight in, and rightly so – they will certainly be seeing us again, and again!