There’s a new cat in town

 My foodie antenna first caught a whiff of Fredy’s diner thanks to a picture posted on social media. This depicted the interior of a new eatery, looking shiny and new, and dare I say it? Reminiscent of what in my mind the 70s TV series Happy Days represented.

The mustard and orange seating and the cartoonish wallpaper helped, but I think that what greeted me most were the smiles. Is it just me who is surprised by good service nowadays? Pleasantries that don’t take much effort but that make the largest difference? An attitude that shows your patrons that you actually enjoy your job? (Shock, horror, etc.)

I took a seat towards the back, with my mental soundtrack starting to play “These days are ours, Happy and free. (Oh Happy Days)” obviously eyeing the other patrons’ plates on the way. The menu was vast and it was difficult to decide, so I opted for something light that time (prawn and avocado salad) and then proceeded to plan what I’d order on my next visit.

In the mean time I spoke to chef and owner Chris Stellini. Chris has trained and worked in high-class hotels for some years, but opening a casual diner was a dream that he finally got to fulfill. Fredy’s diner gets its name from his late father, Fredu, whom his mum liked to call ‘Fredy’. Fredy has been immortalized in the company’s logo and on the walls of the diner, and under his ‘supervision’ the family works in tandem, all putting their different skills to good use.

I’m curious to know what this kind of shift in lifestyle meant for Chris. One conjures images of long, stressful hours, kitchen disasters and flying food. While it certainly is a tough job with long hours, he tells me that the joy of fulfilling a dream and creating a project together with this family, with attention to detail, soaks up so much of this stress. And I’m assured that there is too much respect for the food for it to be thrown around!

He describes the choice of serving American food as ‘easy’ but after examining the menu I cannot help but notice the variety, and how he has been applying his acquired skills to old favourites as well as recipes developed over the years. The chef is serving food that he enjoys eating, recipes that have been enjoyed by friends and that have been perfected to be served in his restaurant. Sometimes the easiest way is the best way.

The menu tends to be carb-heavy, which perhaps is something you could expect from this type of theme. You would only be slightly limited in terms of choices if you’re vegetarian or want to avoid a heavy meal – I have my eye on that butternut squash steak for mains.

Diving into the menu which promises to ‘smack hunger out of you’ (easy, tiger!) you will notice some unusual language, which is funny but also a bit disturbing at times. I squirmed when my partner order ‘The Sock’ pizza, but luckily it did not live up to its name. Actually, it was rather light and tasty, a pizza I’d be tempted to order, and I’m very snobbish about my pizza.

IMG_20160102_224405

The pièce de résistance for me were the Smoked & Baked BBQ Back Ribs!, which I am told are cooked slowly in a smoker. And you can tell. They fall off the bone and somehow you end up eating through all of them, too many of them most probably, with ease. Yep, they’re good. They don’t do halves, so go hungry.

A favourite with the staff seems to be the ‘Grilled Chicken & Mash’ ciabatta. I couldn’t understand the fuss; although the pesto makes it interesting, the potato in bread thing doesn’t really do it for me, it’s too heavy especially served with more potato (fries) at the side. In my opinion there are better things on the menu (like the hot dog! Try the hot dog!).

IMG_20160102_222421

Finally, I can never get myself to write a review without tasting the desserts. I do it for you, dear readers.

My pumpkin, pineapple, pecan concoction not only pleased by alliteration-loving self, but it made me stop in my tracks. Truly delicious. I love the fact that they are also made from scratch at Fredy’s diner. Points. I found the Peanut Butter Cake to be great too, but far too rich in buttery taste to be finished by one person (have this on a first date). I hear that the Key Lime Pie is great too, so I’m looking forward to trying that one!

IMG_20160102_232815

Fredy’s Diner is found at 111, Triq San Bartolomew, Qormi

And here or here.

Ambience: cheerful and fun, great for meeting your friends

Service: excellent, attentive without being intrusive. A mistake in the order was redeemed quickly enough for us to barely notice it had happened (now that’s where you can actually see just how the service is..)

Wine list: short, but with some good choices

Value for money: some dishes are slightly over-priced, others are good value

Quality of the food: overall great, some dishes might do with a little improvement

After chatting with Chris about future possibilities and giving my suggestions (for ever-so-slightly selfish reasons of course!) I’m looking forward to more visits at Fredy’s Diner.

 

 


A first impression – sitting in the shade facing the sea on a glorious day, life buzzing by while you’re taking your sweet time choosing from the appetizing menu. Still in time for a leisurely brunch. Perfect.

U must do something exciting everyday. U must enjoy your life. U must exercise. U only have one body, use it in any way U can. It’s the greatest instrument U will ever own. U must get plenty of calcium. U must care for your friends and family. Understand them. U are an individual. U an U alone make your own choices. Maybe U will get rich, maybe U won’t. U will fall in love. U win some U lose some. U must have a balanced, healthy diet. U are what U eat. Who are U?

This is what it says on the U Bistrot business card. It’s just a card, but the pleasure of dining out lies in the little details, the service, the experience. The service here doesn’t disappoint. It IS service with a smile, with a little joke thrown in and it’s pleasingly accommodating. Have I said that a smile goes a long way? Especially when it’s not forced. The food is great with attention to detail, but I am simply smitten with the breakfast menu – what I have come to call ‘posh brunch’. So that is what I will be focusing my attention on.
image

Eggs Benedict served on a choice of either smoked salmon or smoked gammon on crunchy Maltese bread and topped with a divine and generous portion of Hollandaise sauce. This sauce tastes like a combination of egg yolk and mustard; so if you like a tangy taste, go for it. I want to try making my own soon, following Jamie Oliver’s recipe.
image

For a more traditional approach, go for the full English Breakfast made with fine ingredients and served on a tile. I enjoyed the presentation of this, but I’ve read a few reviews where the tile was dissed. Not a salient point in this case, since the grub was good and my eyes were pleased.

There are various places around the island (especially touristic areas) where one can get a decent, cheap breakfast and sometimes cheap and cheerful goes a long way. Alas, a lady of leisure cannot survive on decent breakfast alone.. sometimes she wants a posh brunch in the sun for an extra couple of euros. Yes, she does. And at U Bistrot they serve breakfast until noon, the setting is great, the staff polite and the portions plentiful. Contented sigh 🙂

U Bistrot

Balluta Bay, St. Julian’s Malta

+356 2311 2361