The Paphos region offers a small number of traditional taverns that genuinely try to please their customers; the owners aren’t pretending to offer fine dining and in these eateries you will find a genuine warm welcome. Traditional Cypriot dishes done well are a joy to behold, and one only has to take a peek at some of the comments on Trip Adviser to know that a local taverna which offers true Cypriot comfort food can be a winner if partnered with an atmosphere so authentic that it’s difficult not to be charmed by it.
I found a place which is so gloriously uncomplicated, in every way, a place where the phrase ‘the sound of silence’ can actually be appreciated for we are out in the sticks yet only a 28-minute drive away from Paphos town. The Vasilias Nikoklis Inn is a small but perfectly formed family-run tourist residence consisting of only eight bedrooms and a truly delightful ‘in house’ tavern offering only tasty homemade dishes. Nobody here will bore you rigid trying to explain the ‘concept’ of their menu, they just look after you and offer food which is not over-elaborate, just fresh, tasty, local and cooking that relies as much as possible on locally sourced ingredients.
They serve a bunch of good things treated very well, from the perfectly cooked lamb chops, the homemade tachini, and tzatziki or delicious ravioli with homemade vegetable sauce. There is also a classic chicken souvlaki, Afelia with just the right level of bite to it and not forgetting the tourists’ delight – Kleftiko. Simple but experienced cooking using their mother’s well-honed recipes.
My friend and I dined outside in the lovely courtyard area under a cover of vines and were looked after by a lovely, friendly waitress who hails from the nearby sleepy village of Nikoklia, a great example of happy staff making for happy customers and it was she who tempted me to the freshly made mousaka with the words ‘just out of the oven’. I have to say it was excellent, juicy, tasty and creamy. My friend went for the lamb chops and thumbs up were given for those. We washed it down with a glass or two of Tsangarides red, not forgetting the fresh bouncy bread, great salad, and a plate of proper homemade chips, which all certainly all helped create one of those ‘the world aint’ so bad’ moods.
The entire setting is utterly beguiling and other diners included a group of young men who were enthusiastic bird watchers and the talk was of them having spotted a Sardinian warbler, also the European Bee Eater plus, big excitement when they spotted a falcon and all that just before dinnertime. Rarely can I ever say a place is perfect but the Nikoklis Inn is now up there as one of my favourite hideaway dining venues, a place which will force you to try and detox from all your gadgets for this place makes you want to re connect with the sound of silence and as Francis Bacon once said ‘silence nourishes wisdom’ so my advice is just drive out there and while returning you will congratulate yourself at how wise a decision that was.
SPECIALTY Cyprus cuisine
WHERE Nikoklis Inn, on the outskirts of the village of Nikoklia, Paphos
CONTACT Tel 26 432211, www.vasilias.nikoklis.com, [email protected]