I have seen so many beautiful Instagram pics of food and cocktails from The Thirsty Barber that I was so looking forward to getting to try it for myself. Unfortunately, the whole experience was an expensive letdown, saved only by the wonderful people I was there eating with and a few drinks at Yard32 afterwards.
When you walk in, the place is huge and looks kinda fancy in a basic way. All dark lighting, big tables and nice place settings. We were there quite early, at 18:30 on a weeknight and we were the only customers the whole time we were there.
Cocktails at the Thirsty Lawyer
I love cocktails. And when I say cocktails, I don’t mean cheap vodka with some orange juice from concentrate, I mean delicious, nuanced, properly mixed cocktails. Like you find at Alchemy for example. Their menu is select, but with a lot of lovely options and if you don’t see anything you like, their properly skilled mixologists can come up with creations on the spot. This was not the case at Thirsty Lawyer. Here, the cocktail menu is huge but didn’t have a single concoction that sounded enjoyable. The one cocktail they had with tequila (and not that coffee infused stuff) came with peanut butter and jam- I thought it might be a bit of fun but they didn’t have it in stock.
I asked then if they can make me something off-menu, something very simple like a Paloma (tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda, all things they had elsewhere on the menu) but was told that no, they cannot make anything off-menu. This is an instant red flag to me as it means that the people making the drinks are not trained mixologists and are just working from a recipe, which is not what you want when you’re paying €10 – €15 on a single cocktail.
In the end, I ordered a G&T (which was fine), then we also got a “Toblerone” which was OK but 90% ice, a ‘Good Girl’ which came in a tiny glass, only half full, and a Basil Smash, which was a decent size, quite nice, but had a sprig of rosemary instead of basil.
Overall, not impressed.
Food at the Thirsty Lawyer, Valletta
The Thirsty Lawyer is trying to be upmarket but falls way short of that mark. The selection sounds nice and it was quite hard to choose something as everything sounded delicious. The food is priced from around €12 for starters to up to €25+ for mains.
So, a little on the higher end for Malta at first glance but when you see the portions, you realise this is going to be an expensive meal. At best, you’ll need to pop to McDonalds (or, like us, for tapas at Yard32) afterwards, but at worst you’ll end up ordering a few courses and spending a fortune.
- mushroom ravioli in truffle sauce (starter potion): €13.50
- mushroom ravioli in truffle sauce (main portion): €19
- crispy rabbit ravioli (main portion): €18
- lamb rack (main): €16
The food portions are embarrassingly small. It’s quite common in Malta that restaurants who want to portray themselves as fancy think fancy just equals small portions, without the proper knowledge of food to understand how to actually fill up your customers on those portions.
The mushroom ravioli starter potion was THREE pieces. The main was FIVE. I’ve never finished a meal so fast or finished a meal so hungry. The taste was bland (with no salt and pepper on the table) and I couldn’t catch any hint of truffle or toasted sesame seeds.
The rabbit ravioli was actually bad. Dry pieces sitting in what seemed to be basic BBQ sauce from the supermarket, you know the kind, sitting next to the ketchup?
The lamb rack was nice enough, but again, a very small portion and we all finished the meal hungry.
Had the food been tasty we would have stayed for dessert to fill ourselves up but as the quality was lacking, we decided to go on and eat again elsewhere.
If there hadn’t been such a long delay between ordering and getting our food/drink then we’d have been in and out within around 15 minutes and have paid €113.50 for the pleasure. That was between 4. I know it’s not the most expensive (when I go to my favourite steakhouse I can easily spend a lot more than that between TWO but I leave after a long relaxing dinner, full and satisfied, having had more than just one drink) but for the experience, it was extortionate.
- nice decor
- no skilled bar staff
- food quality not quite up to par for the price range
- small portions that will leave you starving
- no bread or nibbles for the table to help
- very slow service, our cocktails took ages and didn’t come until after the mains had arrived
- the servers were very sweet and nice but a little junior (placing drinks tilting on placemats, resting their tray on your shoulder as they leaned over you)
I would not go again, but glad I tried it at least. Valletta has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and there are so many lovely restaurants to choose from that in future I’ll stick to my favourites like:
- Taproom: their mushroom pasta is to die for and more than fills you up!
- Sciacca: best steak and service on the island.
- Alchemy: lovely cocktails and super skilled mixologists that know their stuff.
- N Japanese Bistrot: fast, cheap and cheerful Japanese tapas-style.
- Yard32: gin experts, but know their drinks. Nice quick and easy tapas for snacks.