We have all known a place like Hondros. It may not be Cypriot food that’s served, it could be an Italian, Indian or even Chinese, what’s key is that it will be a place that has simply been there in the same spot for as long as memory serves, and it will have been doing the same thing for years and years. There is always only one reason however for this longevity and in the somewhat competitive world of eateries these places survive because they are simply very good at what they do.
Hondros tavern certainly comes into this category as it has been serving customers now since the mid 50s and we now even use the tavern as a useful landmark for directing visitors. This astute early purchase of such prime real estate close to the harbour and slap bang next to the car park, bus station, archaeological park and mosaics means those walking past looking for some lunch or evening sustenance then benefit from the seductive wafts from the large outdoor grill station, which usually boasts a leg or two of lamb swathed in herbs or a suckling pig circling the spit at lunchtime. The temptation to pull up a chair either within the large garden area or within the cosy and unpretentious interior becomes somewhat difficult to resist.
We were a group of four for dinner and instead of the traditional meze route we chose the set dishes. The menu offers all the classics including the tavern’s special moussaka and its melt in the mouth kleftiko, which offers that all important solid rustic appeal that guarantees to sooth any troubled soul.
We kicked off with some meze starters including a homemade tarmasalata which was soft, mellow, distinctly pale and delicious. As were the tzatziki, potato salad and the impressive bowl of leafy green salad. My friends settled for the kleftico, moussaka and a grilled chicken, while I ordered sea bream. I am not kidding when I say the dish presented to me offered a perfectly cooked piscatorial delight the size of my left foot (size 42) accompanied by crispy roast potatoes and vegetables. Silence then ensued as we all started to ‘dig in’ and the only other noise heard was the approving comments being given as we tested each other’s dishes.
The family who run Hondros know their ongoing appeal and understand well their customers’ needs and aspirations when they dine out at a traditional quality tavern – they will even roast you a whole suckling pig if you can get enough people to eat it. This type of flexibility to satisfy customers’ needs is ingrained in them so one doesn’t feel in at all awkward if ordering just one dish or the full meze which is from past experience a bit of an assault course and one that many have started but few have managed to finish.
Our meal ended with a refreshing platter of fresh fruit and preserved sweet fruits. We all agreed that Hondros is the kind of place with mercifully zero posturing and no desperate attempts at needless innovation. What it does offer and always consistently, is very good food cooked the way it always has been, and all without making your eyes water when presented with the bill.
SPECIALTY Traditional Cypriot dishes
WHERE Hondros Tavern, 96 Apostolos Pavlou Avenue, Kato Paphos
WHEN Open 7 days a week lunch and dinner
HOW MUCH Meze €18.50, average price for two people without drinks €35
CONTACT 26 934256