Cyprus Mail

Restaurant Review: Edesmatopolion, Nicosia

Get in early for the best value lunch in time

By Alexander McCowan
This establishment was reviewed by me some years ago when it was under different management. I referred to it being a delight as was Lisa the proprietor who offered a genuine alternative to the fast food outlets which were dominating the capital. It was a period when the lunch-time eateries that provided sound local dishes were in decline and I regretted their passing. Since then there has been an improvement in this area with the emergence of the new venues inside the walls and the ameliorating of one or two of the more traditional establishments outside.
The name of the case in hand has always defeated me, anything in Greek over five syllables is a plague on my memory, but I understand it loosely translates as ‘a place with good food’ and that is absolutely correct. Its location is on the right just before the traffic lights outside the Cyprus Secret Service headquarters on the road that leads to the American Embassy. The renovated Churchill hotel is across the road. That’s enough geography, let’s deal with the food.
On entering, the customer is invited to choose from a selection of salads and dips and then continue to the first section of the buffet that is now run by Elias the Cretan, who took over last year and obviously likes vegetarians for he produces the best selection of traditional bean, pulse and vegetable dishes I have eaten in Cyprus.
The restaurant offers a lunch-time buffet that consists of a vegetarian’s eyeful: six bean dishes: broad, black-eyed, kidney, giant as well as okra, lentils, peas and artichokes, chickpeas, vegetable fritters and many more; sometimes they are combined with each other and different sauces – the customer may take some from each tureen.
In previous encounters with hotel buffet operations one has been struck by the parsimonious surface area of the plates provided but not here, full size dinner plates, no less.
Following the bean-feast on the counter comes the fish and meat. The rabbit stifado is a favourite with many and there is very little left for the late-comer. There are various chicken dishes and fish, fried, baked and grilled, all there for the tasting.
The restaurant offers up to 60 covers, more if the weather is forgiving, and has a thriving take-away service, twice as many take out as dine in.
On Sundays the system is slightly different with waiter service and many of the above dishes are on offer but supplemented by the publicly barbequed suckling pig and kokkoretsi (Greek haggis), something unusual on Sunday in the city.
From next week the Edesmatopolion will open in the evening for the first time when Elias will be serving a Cretan meze from 7-30pm till midnight.
There is a sensible and gently priced wine list that may be taken by the glass or bottle. Sweets are limited to mastic ice-cream and wild cherries which could become an addiction.
The buffet price is a remarkable €7 in the week rising to an outrageous €8 on Sunday! This is the best value lunch venue in Nicosia; long may it thrive. It opens from 12noon until 4pm. Get there early.

SPECIALTY Vegetarian and traditional Greek food
WHERE Edesmatopolion, 41 Metoxiou Street, Nicosia
CONTACT 22 775777
PRICE €7-8 for lunchtime buffet

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