A Diner Amical at the Under Grain Restaurant in Valletta, Malta's capital city

The Malta Bailliage hosted the second Diner Amical of the year at the Under Grain restaurant in Valletta on Wednesday the 28th of June 2023.


Situated beneath the Roselli Hotel, Under Grain draws inspiration from the past tailor shops on Merchant Street, and this influence can be observed throughout the restaurant. The sewing pattern menu and clothing displays are all elements of this theme (although we were presented with our own personalised menu as usual).


The restaurant was one of the first to be awarded a Michelin Star in Malta and the establishment has since been awarded a one Michelin Star for four consecutive years.


A pre-dinner reception during which champagne and canapes were served, was held on the roof terrace with splendid views of the Valletta skyline as evening fell.


In his introductory speech, our Chancelier Mr. Charles Gatt mentioned that this was the first time that we were dining at Under Grain. A dinner had been planned just before Covid but obviously had to be cancelled.


Mr. Victor Borg the chef, has served many Chaine dinners in the past. The draft menu initially did not appear to be as elaborate as we are used to but knowing what Mr Borg can produce we left it in his very capable hands to surprise us.


Regarding the slightly unusual table setup, the Chancelier commented that the venue still appeared cosy and befitting of a social club like the Chaine.


The Chancelier then asked our Bailli Dr Joseph Xuereb to present two new members, Chevalier Anthony Busuttil and Julius Nehorai, with their nomination certificates and badges. Finally, he welcomed guests Lady Rose Nehorai, Dr Francis Zammit Dimech, Dr Nives Grixti, Hannah and Katrina Felice.


The wines for the occasion were chosen and paired by our Echanson Dr Iro Cali Corleo. and supplied by Mirachem Ltd.


Following the Chancelier’s speech, Dr Iro Cali Corleo discussed the wine characteristics. His comments can be found below accompanying the menu.





Pre-dinner reception


Champagne and Canapes

‘The canapés served on the roof terrace were very light, tasty and with nice crispy and soft textures’



Aperitif: Raventos I Blanc blanc de blanc 2021


‘The estate has belonged to the Raventos family since 1497.  Pepe Raventós, the twenty-first generation of the family, farms 90 hectares using biodynamic methods.  This particular wine is a blend of three indigenous white grape varieties: Xarel-lo (40%), Macabeo and Parellada (28%).

The nose had delicate notes of citrus fruits, toasted aromas (famous for it) and soft herbs. The palate was rounded with a freshness and marked minerality on the persistent finish.’





Mussels, passion fruit, Gorgonzola dolce


‘The presentation of the starter, Mussels with passion fruit and Gorgonzola dolce looked like a painting on a plate and the combination of the flavours of all the ingredients worked perfectly.  The side of the mussel escabèche with passion fruit jelly was a nice surprise!’


Wine: Klipfel Riesling Grand Cru Kritchberg 2018


‘The 2018 vintage was very successful all over Europe with the higher than usual heat actually permitted northern European wines such as this one to exhibit good fruit character.

The Klipfel Domain was created in 1824, it is now a family estate covering 40Ha.  This wine is from the only Alsatian vineyard planted on schist as well as being southfacing.

It had a light golden colour. The nose was fairly intense and flinty with notes of lime, lemongrass and pale stone fruit. The palate was powerful and structured with a nice minerality and aromas of peach, citrus and a slight smokiness on the finish’



Main Course


Milk-fed cutlet of Veal, horseradish ‘crème cru’, zucchini, green olives and feta cheese, Madera sauce


‘The main course of Milk fed Veal cutlet was again beautifully presented with very interesting accompaniments and a very good Madeira sauce.  The veal was perfectly cooked, nice and crisp on the outside and moist and pink on the inside’.


Wine: Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva


Castello di Querceto is best known for its classically styled yet savoury Chianti  Classic DOCG but also produces a wider range of wines, mostly featuring Sangiovese. It is one of the historical estates and since 1897 is owned by the Francois family.  This vintage has received multiple awards including a 93/100 from Vecchione and a very rare (at this price point) 17.5/20 from Jancis Robinson. 

On the nose there were mature red plums, strawberries, raspberries and sweet apricots. It was medium bodied yet with quite soft tannins on the palate and with a slightly hot and spicy touch that complemented the noticeable hint of horseradish in the dish.’





Valrhona dark chocolate mousse cake, Mgarr raspberries, buffalo milk ice-cream


‘The dessert of Valrhona chocolate mousse cake was very nicely presented too, very tasty and light, combined well with the local raspberries and the buffalo milk ice-cream’.


Wine: Bertani Recioto Della Valpolicella Classico 2019

‘The brothers Bertani established the original winery in 1857 and today it comprises more than 200 hectares of vineyards. 

This wine was a deep, dense ruby with a bouquet of rich forest fruit, blackthorn, and wild thyme, a hint of liquorice and mint leaves. On the palate it was velvety, well-balanced and round with an integrated sweetness and yet with a delicate acidic edge and ample dark fruit ending with a long finish.’



Coffee/Tea and Petits Fours



                                                          Executive Chef: M. Victor Borg



The comments on the food and wine accompanying the menu described above were prepared by Conseiller Culinaire M. Marc Besancon and Echanson Dr Ramiro Cali-Corleo respectively.


After dinner our Bailli Délégué, Dr Joseph Xuereb commented very positively on our dinner experience.


‘If there was one way to describe this dinner, it would be: Wow! this establishment vaunts an extremely well-deserved Michelin star, but for those of us who may not have known, I would have compared it to a blind tasting, in other words, being completely surprised by the contents, without knowing what the label says.


It is the trend today to simplify menu descriptions, with some restaurants even opting for just listing the one main ingredient. With dishes this complex how can you really describe all that is in them? - and even if you could whatever we may read and understand may be completely different to what we are eventually served.


As always, I make some notes as the evening progresses, which I then cannot read! So, I’ll be brief, even though it might not do justice to this veritable culinary feast.


In the pre-dinner reception, I loved the Raventos and out of the three canapés, the bonbon particularly struck me. 


At table, the home-baked sourdough was absolutely excellent and the French butter an exquisite touch.


For first course, the mussels in mussel custard, accompanied by the mussel cracker and seaweed powder and the mussel escabeche were exquisitely balanced, with the passion fruit a beautiful palate cleanser. The Riesling was a striking melange of citrus and minerals and cut through the texture and richness of the gorgonzola beautifully.


For the main course, the veal was lovely and pink, with a nice crispy outside, well rested, and beautifully tender. Again, this was a very complex dish with the creamed horseradish, zucchini, green olives, and feta cheese. Accompanied by the charred lettuce and chorizo, which were absolutely five star, and everything was rounded beautifully with the Madeira reduction. The potato beignet was nice and crispy. The lemon palate cleanser, although just a dollop, was very welcome. Our Echanson chose a 4-year-old Chianti to accompany this dish. Very pleasant and rounded with tannins that more than held their own with the palette of rich sauces.


The dessert, the chef’s version of Ferrero Rocher, included juicy raspberries from Mgarr, and an extremely rich buffalo milk ice cream topped with gold leaf, was a fitting end to this lovely dinner. Certainly not an easy dessert to match wines to but again the Recioto della Valpolicella filled this role in with great class.


Our wines were served in the elegant, handblown, Zweisel glasses, and by the looks of it we’ve done very well! Another nice touch is the environmentally conscious water service.


Which brings me to the pleasant duty of thanking the people who made this evening, Peppin, Maurizio, Song, Yeah, Christine the restaurant manager with Danny, Stevie, Gabriel and Omar. Thank you for your very attentive service this evening. And compliments to the chef Victor Borg, who we’ve known over his long career, assisted by Brady, who is a contestant in our young chef competition, some years back along with Jean-Paul, Jerome and Julie in the kitchen. I would also like to mention the proprietor of this establishment, Mr Angelo Xuereb, who was a very active member of the Chaine and supporter of our Bailliage. Perhaps this event may eventually entice him to join us once again.


I will ask you to all be upstanding and toast the staff and chef and his brigade.'



Below is the link to a photo gallery of the event. You are all so photogenic :-)


Mark Bailey

Charge de Presse

Vive La Chaine!