Restaurants Malta | Planetmona

Sunday, Apr 19th


Restaurants Malta - Paradise Found

Paradise Found


No wonder l'Astrance has 3 Michelin stars and is one of the top 10 restaurants in the world: Mona Farrugia and TW fly in for lunch.

Editor rating
5.0 User rating
0.0 (0)

There are few restaurants ‘hot’ enough in Paris to warrant a two month waiting list, and L’Astrance is one of them. I tried to get a table last year and no amount of cajoling and pleading warranted a seat. When you consider that a table for one is like a table for two in terms of size, I don’t blame the management for probably giving a couple preference. Harrumph.

This year, I was determined. The Writer and I had agreed that this trip would be about romance and not reviewing, that it would be about bistrots not Michelin-starred restaurants, but he let me get away with one. That ‘one’, I decided, would be l’Astrance.

I called them one evening a month before our trip. Friday night would not be available. No sorry Madame, we don’t open Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday. We are packed for lunch. Thursday is out of the question too, I’m afraid.  I hung up.

I called back within half an hour. ‘I’m a restaurant critic from Malta’ I explained calmly to the (thankfully) different guy who answered ‘And I am flying in specifically to review l’Astrance’.  Lies were, up to an extent, flying out of my mouth. I was even willing to call again and pretend to be my own assistant if this one didn't work. It had worked when booking The Ivy. I stopped short of adding ‘yeah, hah, fat chance…snort’.

A lunch table on Thursday became suddenly available. Our Air Malta flight landed at 11.00am and we literally dashed to the Hotel de la Sorbonne ( to check in, then to the restaurant, having made our receptionist call and postpone. We arrived at 1.30pm. Nobody complained.

L’Astrance is small. There are 5 tables for two downstairs and a few others for four. Upstairs, there is one large table for six and another for two. The couples seemed to be colleagues having affairs.  Or maybe that was just my imagination running riot in France. The larger tables were all, bar none, full of men. ‘Bankers’ I told TW ‘They’re the only ones for who eating out like this is a daily chore’.

There is no menu at l’Astrance. No menu at all. The poor sod sitting to the left of  us was on his own and was taking minutae of notes of every single dish he was eating. ‘A food writer’ I told TW, as the neighbour took more photos of the dishes. ‘Aren’t you lucky? You can just eat without writing a thing’ TW said. So I didn’t take a single note.

We had the degustation – of course, there’s no choice. I just remember the lamb cutlets which were so pink they were almost raw. They were also sublime and as tender as a a baby lamb could ever be. The hand that makes this food is a gentle one: ingredients were treated with care, with a deference and it would be useless of me to add that everything is seasonal and fresh. Nonetheless, I have added it anyway.

I know we had a moussey thing with a thick brioche toast as amouse bouche. I know that we had a sourdough bread. I am sure we had a very light custard which could have been whipped and foamed raw egg, in an egg shell. I know we had fresh fruit on the side. I know there were madeleines with the coffee, light as air but obviously not Proustian enough.  I know that because I sneaked photos when TW wasn’t looking.

I do not remember a single other thing, except that our neighbours, a more than middle aged couple who – this is a frequent occurrence – suddenly turned to us and asked where we were from, were having a different main. Theirs was duck, the lady explained, obviously tipsy from the amazing wine. We had the wine degustation and it was perfect. So perfect that I bothered to write down the name of one of the reds. ‘Where can I buy a bottle of this’ I asked the waiter ‘It is difficult to get a table here, madame’ the waiter said ‘So we ensure the wines you find here are difficult to find outside too’. Talk about French diplomacy.

There are two places where the wine matching has literally thrown me: the first time was at the Atelier Joel Robuchon; the second was here. In my books, that makes l’Astrance worth visiting. No wonder it’s in the top 10 restaurants in the world.

Bizarrely neither TW nor I can remember dessert. It was at this point that the Maitre d’ promised to e-mail me the menu of what we had eaten on the day. Not only does the menu change daily, but your neighbour, as was ours, can get something completely different from you. I gave him my e-mail address and hoped that he would be as attentive to this as he had been to us during lunch.  I would have bet a couple of euro that he would absolutely not send a thing.

We walked out of l’Astrance having bought ourselves an experience, thanks to Bascal Barbot’s mastery. Not knowing what you’re going to eat and leaving all up to a super chef like him is divine. L’Astrance is exactly what a restaurant critic needs: it is smart but not overwhelming, it has wonderful service and wine, its food  requires absolutely no choice and no thought by the punter but still manages to stun.

You may not be a restaurant critic yourself, but I’m sure you’d love it anyway. If you’re planning to be in Paris next year, or even just during the January sales, book now. Please remind the Maitre d' to send me that menu.

Additional Information


Address 4 Rue Beethoven 75016
Town Paris
Country France


Cuisine FrenchHaute Cuisine
Opening Hours Orders taken: Tue-Fri 12:30pm-1:30pm, 8pm-9:30pm
L'Astrance operates a long waiting list: book well ahead

Contact Details

Contact Number +33 (0)1 40 50 84 40




Was this review helpful to you?
Yes No
Mona Farrugia
September 20, 2010
Report this comment
1 of 1 people found the comment helpful


There are no user comments for this article.

To comment please login.

Easy Sign In

or Login with Planetmona Account

New to Planetmona? Sign up here

No entries were found