When we tried to locate a decent picture of Cockney’s on our database, we couldn’t find one. So we settled for the view you get when you’re about to get to your table on the terrace. That is, lots of water, Sliema with its matchbox skyline on the other side of Marsamxett Harbour, and the regular chugging ferry service between Sliema and Valletta.
Cockney’s, as the name dictates, has a strong legacy with the British colonial past. The original bar seems to be some illegal shack built against the bastions. The current wooden structure looks equally suspect. But let none of this bother you. You go to Cockney’s when the sun is shining and the water is sparkling, so you can have a table on the terrace – which is the only place to be.
You don’t go to Cockney’s for the art decor on the walls, or the silver service. And yet, Cockney’s is all about location and a real Maltese dining experience by the water. You’ll get some people who moan that their lobster was not well cooked, or that the service was slow or frenzied, or that their white wine wasn’t chilled enough. To enjoy the Cockney’s experience you do the following:
- Book beforehand – the place is almost invariably full, especially when the weather’s good.
- Find some loud friends – they will blend in well with the Maltese families jostling to shout their latest gossip, on the next table. Don’t take your girlfriend there to impress her or on her first date. Or your in-laws, unless they’ve been to the place before and have a sense of humour.
- Order the antipasto – we particularly like the vegetarian version, with nicely-grilled aubergines and peppers.
- Order pasta as a main course with whatever choice of seafood takes your fancy. We particularly like the spaghetti with mussels and vongole. Yes, the mussels are fresh-frozen and come from New Zealand – but, what the heck, they’re very nice, and blend wonderfully with the mint, and the vongole. And you get to build a small mountain of shell fish as you chat.
- Wash it down with some dry white wine.
- Skip the sweets (or just grab an ice-cream). Have a little grappa, or a double espresso.
- Watch the Maltese laugh, yell, tell stories. Watch the green boat with its little line of patient tourists waiting to cross the water. Nod, even though you may not be listening.
Cockney’s deserves to be on our Food Icons list for being so unfashionably Maltese..
Cockney’s Bar & Restaurant. Marsamxett Landing Place, Valletta. Tel. +356 21236065
Photo: G Travels