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Gozo Restaurant

A balmy Mediterranean night, a glass of chilled white wine on a stone terrace, scents of wild thyme and fennel, the many pleasures of dining in a restaurant on the beautiful island of Gozo will overwhelm your senses.

At Ta’ Frenċ, this feast of sensations begins as soon as you walk under the ancient stone archway, through the fragrant herb garden and to the welcoming front door. Whether you are here for an evening of romantic dining with your beloved, or a gastronomic treat at one of the few Michelin-recognised restaurants in the Maltese islands, you will be looked after by a dedicated and highly experienced front of house team and be regaled with perfectly cooked dishes. Locally-caught seafood, Gozo-grown vegetables, house-made pasta and exquisite desserts are some of the treats you can expect to taste.

Whilst situated close to Victoria, Xaghra and Marsalforn, Ta’ Frenċ is only a short drive from every Gozo village. Tucked away in a charming rural setting, the restaurant is housed in a beautifully converted centuries-old stone farmhouse. Many charming nooks and corners offer perfect settings for all manner of occasions. The shady terrace is ideal for relaxed open-air dining on a late summer evening. The restaurant, whilst spacious, offers many cosy corners for tête à tête dining at candle-lit tables. On the terrace next to the small herb garden are tables for enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail or glass of champagne. In addition, for a larger group, the sophisticated wine cellar is available for private dining. Or choosing the elegantly-appointed private dining room one might imagine being entertained in a private country house, with fine paintings, antique decanters and handsome Maltese furniture.

Year after year Ta’ Frenċ’s wine list has won awards for its expertly curated collection. The temperature-controlled cellar houses the rarest bottles from the great vineyards of France, perfect companions for the restaurant’s classic dishes. A fine selection of Sicilian and other Italian wines offer a wide choice of matches for the kitchen’s Mediterranean-inspired dishes. And for those who like to explore lesser-known bottles, they might look to Gozo wines from grapes grown in the vineyards almost outside our front door or choose a sparkling wine made from grapes grown in Maltese vineyards.

Ta’ Frenċ has always been a place of contrasts. And one uses the word ‘always’ advisedly for Ta’ Frenċ has played an important part in the history of fine dining in Gozo and Malta for decades. Indeed, one might argue that it is the first of such establishments, certainly as far as Gozo restaurants are concerned. Since it opened its doors in May 1982 as Auberge Ta’ Frenċ, with rustic French furniture, checked table cloths and staff in red neckerchiefs, the restaurant has reflected the mood of the moment, both in its menu and in its ambience. Classically prepared French dishes became favourites with the rapidly growing band of regular customers. Today, Ta’ Frenċ continues to represent both tradition and innovation; the menu, for example, retains some of the signature dishes developed by the original executive chef, Mario Schembri, and for which it has become justly famous over the years, for example the Chateaubriand for two carved at the table, the flambé king prawns and the Grand Marnier soufflé.

Now, however, the kitchen is in the very capable hands of young, Gozo-born executive chef, Joseph Brincat. Well-travelled and experienced in kitchens abroad, Chef Brincat brings his own style of cooking to Ta’ Frenċ’s discerning local and international clientele, offering a menu of extraordinarily good value. He cures salmon in black treacle in the style of gravad-lax and serves it with horseradish and burrata cream and dill oil. He has re-worked the signature rabbit ravioli dish – in itself an innovation some years ago, which has often been copied – filling the house-made pasta with braised rabbit and serving it with the pan-fried liver, spinach, garlic cream and a light rosemary-infused rabbit jus. Paccheri comes with herb and hazelnut pesto, marinated zucchini, Gozo-grown asparagus and topped with Parmesan crumbs. Chef Brincat uses local butcher’s sausage, Gozo peppered cheese and carob syrup, a myriad little tastes of the terroir, in true cuisine d’auteur.

Ta' Frenc Team

Sustainable gastronomy has always been a watchword at Ta’ Frenċ. For the last eight years, the restaurant has been fully committed to careful waste management, separating glass, card and plastic for recycling and food waste for composting. Single use plastic has been phased out. Cooking oil is collected for bio fuel and the extensive garden is irrigated with waste water from the reverse osmosis system.

Since its inception almost forty years ago, the restaurant has supported Gozo’s rich agricultural heritage, by purchasing daily from local farmers and the fishermen who work from small day-boats. Whilst some prime ingredients have to be imported from abroad, careful consideration is given to their provenance and to animal welfare and production methods. Much of the fruit and vegetables prepared in the kitchen is grown in the island’s fertile fields. Herbs are gathered from the restaurant’s own garden, sun-dried sea salt is harvested from ancient salt pans carved out of the rocks on the north of Gozo and olive oil is produced from the restaurant’s own nearby olive grove, Tas’ Salvatur, served with freshly baked bread at the beginning of the meal. Artisan producers of such local specialities as carob syrup, and sun-dried figs and tomatoes have always been championed by the restaurant and in all these instances food miles are close to zero. Rare Gozitan honey from local hives of native bees is used to sweeten the after-dinner tisane. This is an elegant touch of dinner theatre, with the trolley brought to the table, together with bunches of freshly-gathered herbs from the garden which are infused in a delicate glass teapot, a perfect grace note on which to end dinner.