Following my last review, it was suggested to me that Vino Cultura is more than a wine bar. How true. From the outside it is difficult to believe there is seating for over 100 on the inside but there is, and it is very comfortable. The staff are committed to making the customer welcome: we are greeted by Andreas who settles us on a table for two and is followed by Maria who explains how things work in Vino Cultura. There is a wine list that includes more vineyards than any other establishment in the city; the owner, another Andreas, informed that he will soon carry more than 1,000 different wines and will offer more than 50 by the glass. Wine by the glass is a feature of the house and a separate menu explains in detail the virtues and price of each product. We are given the Tapas menu which is the type of cuisine on offer in Vino Cultura.
What is a tapa? The word in Spanish means ‘to cover’. In Madrid it is an appetiser or small snack, either hot or cold. In Nicosia it is much more. The menu contains salads; signature dishes such as toffee caramel mushrooms; homemade ravioli containing chicken, mushrooms and cheese, or with lobster and spinach. Listed as ‘Bites to share’, one finds prosciutto and zucchini rolls; baked potato flavoured with truffle oil; beef fillets with caramelised onions on focaccia bread; Black Angus chili con carne. There are various breads and pizzas, which one is invited to share; cold fish dishes such as prawn tacos; scallop sashimi; bass creviche; salmon sashimi and tuna tartar. The hot fish dishes run through baby calmari; salmon, bass and tuna, finishing with fresh mussels served in a classic lemon, butter and white wine sauce. There are seven meat tapas including chicken burgers, lamb fillet and two beef fillets.
We select a baby arugula salad and the prawn tacos to start. The salad could serve six; the tacos were crisp and the prawn fillings were fresh and served at the correct temperature with a small bowl of home made mayonnaise. Our waitress, Teresa, supplied a basket of bread with olive oil and a dressing; the bread was memorable, it put some of the miserable offers found in too many outlets in the capital to shame. By now the place is jumping; tables of two, four, eight, ten and even 20 are filled with drinkers and diners; one could say the ambience was one of friendly conviviality. The management has engendered a philosophy of camaraderie in the staff, each one that attended our table was anxious to ensure that we were comfortable and enjoying the evening – and we certainly were – without a hint of obsequiousness.
The companion ordered the baby squid served with coleslaw and a lemon and lime sauce and I selected the scallop sashimi; both were first rate. The baked potato revived memories of another era.To accompany these we chose a glass of Argyros from Greece, and a Catena Chardonnay – good choice.
The establishment offers a limited number of sweets, mostly mousse. The companion ordered Creme Catalana – Creme Caramel – and I chose the Peanut Butter Mousse, both very good served in small cocottes.
All in, an excellent evening; the venue incorporates the essential elements of good dining: a first rate chef, concerned and efficient staff, a pleasant atmosphere, and a proprietor that knows what his customers desire and has the ability to satisfy it. Bravo Andreas.
SPECIALTY Tapas and fine wines
WHERE Vino Cultura, 20 Kyriakos Matsis, beside the Anglican Cemetery, Nicosia
CONTACT: 99-350680. Booking essential