The Ripe Tomato

http://www.ripetomato.com/

This is a place that I haven’t written about for some reason.  I know it would be damning it with faint praise to call it “the best place I’ve found in Malta,” but that is the truth about it.  I will go one better and say that I very much enjoy this place, that I go to it probably more often than any place except Ravenous, and that I made a special effort to take my parents here when they came up for a visit.

The place bills itself as “American Food,” and I have to agree, though it wasn’t what I initially thought of.  I’m used to the term “American Food” as to referring to that set of entrees served with French fries, or occasionally mashed potatoes.  Any food with a plausible ethnic identity was shuffled off into a different category, so no matter how long your spaghetti and meatball recipe has been cooked in this country, and no matter how much it has changed from the way it was made in the old country, where I grew up, spaghetti and meatballs would always be considered Italian.  Ditto corned beef (except for Irish, of course).  This place takes a more interesting, almost multi-culti attitude towards the term “American Food.”  After all, everyone from around here considers themselves to be American, but they still have strong culinary traditions from the old country, so calling their menu American Food makes perfect sense for this part of the country.

I’m a sucker for good side dishes, and even more of a sucker for meals that are… meals — a dining experience in which multiple components are served with some apparent consideration for how the diner will interact with each of them.  So, for example, when the roast pork loin arrives at my table in slices topped with gravy, with mashed potatoes, red cabbage, and homemade apple sauce, I become happy.  (I also find it interesting that such fare as I would consider German is listed here as being “Northern Italian.”)  Likewise with the special I had for lunch the other day, called “The Battle of Saratoga,” after the meal supposedly served at the victory celebration:  fruit and cornbread stuffed pork, a tasty sauce, green beans, and mashed potatoes.   Not all of the items on the menu are that involved; the Ruben sandwich and the burgers (both quite good) are simply served with (the ubiquitously good) fries.   On the advice of one of the waitresses, I brought my parents here for the Sunday brunch.   Good spread.  Your typical brunch layout, but with vastly more sweets than I’m used to seeing.  On the carving station was an unusually good ham, slices of which were used to make my order of Eggs Benedict.  I imagine that it would also get used on the omelet station, but I wasn’t hungry enough (after the eggs Bennie, waffle, bacon, danish…) to find out.  Maybe next time.  Especially if they have a roast beef on the station.

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