Should parking ever be a factor in deciding where you will dine, then look no further than Paul. Enter the enormous carpark at the Leventis Museum end of Makarios Avenue and there, surrounded by some of the ugliest buildings in Cyprus, is the little oasis of Paul.
A bright, brown-stone bungalow glowing with smart apparel welcomes the ladies that lunch, the money-men discussing their bottom lines, jolly giggling schoolgirls, shoppers popping in for tea and cakes, and families celebrating celebrations. The Paul franchise bestrides the world with over 400 outlets. Originally a marriage in the 19th century between two families of bakers, their recipes for pastries, baguettes, croissants, macarons, tartes and tartelettes will satisfy the most discerning Nicosian matron.
Open from 07:30 for breakfast that includes ‘petit dejeuner complet’, suggesting an element of refinement distancing it from the vulgar ‘full English’, which we are informed will soon be unwelcome in our more elegant eastern resorts. The breakfast list offers eggs fried with bacon, sausages, scrambled, and a novel form: poached with avocado. Naturally, the Francophiles will lean towards the Parisian or the Continental; perhaps croissant with espresso. Not exactly Café ‘Fouche’ but pretty good for Nicosia.
We arrived mid-afternoon and expected lunch. The staff are young, professional and friendly, which is how one might describe the premises. The interior is attractive: the colours, panelling, furnishing and outlook please the eye, and the seating well spaced, and there is none of the infernal intrusive musac.
Alcohol is not a main feature, wine may be purchased by the glass, and the choice in a bottle is limited. The emphasis is on light dining – salads (many), quiche, omelettes, eggs benedict, and many sandwiches. Pursuing the healthy route, the companion chose a salad containing warm goat’s cheese served on a slice of toast atop crisp green leaves hiding some slivers of asparagus. Whenever duck appears on a menu I want it. Le canard was served with a bed of petit green lentils and a hot cranberry sauce.
To set off this feast we ordered a starter of crisp grilled rice balls filled with little shrimps and garnished with rucola and vinaigrette to share between us. Good choice. The salad was light on cheese and minimal on asparagus but generous to a fault on lettuce. My duck was first-rate.
We had a blueberry tart and a delicious tartelette citron for dessert. The man in the kitchen has the light touch.
Paul has been open for ten weeks and as the weather improves will seat 250. Nicos the manager and Tzevetelina our charming waitress are excellent ambassadors for this enterprise, and with the bonus of limitless parking it will prove to be a regular haven for the healthy diner. A very pleasant experience.
Most of the breads and confectioneries can be purchased at the deli counter.
SPECIALTY French café cuisine
WHERE Paul, Tiras St. Nicosia, off Makarios Avenue
CONTACT 22 029377