By Nathan Morley
Well, here we are at the start of another summer and the beginning of a few months of al fresco dining by the sea, during these long lazy baking days.
The Magic Sandy Bay Restaurant, just off Sandy Bay near Nissi Avenue is the kind of place you leave with a huge smile on your face, especially if you’ve been lucky enough to dine at a shady table a couple of feet away the town’s most beautiful natural bay.
Unlike many of the other beaches in Ayia Napa, Sandy is fairly laid back – there are no beach discos, competitions or riotous teenagers with ghetto blasters.
The lay-out is a bit basic and higgledy-piggledy, with a scatter of cheap tables that looks very 1970s Pontins, but this is a welcoming restaurant serving a sunny and vibrant local menu from morning till late night. It’s perfect for those wanting a leisurely meal, or just a glass of wine and a snack.
Most of the beach front restaurants can get authentically loud, especially at weekends – but at Sandy Bay, there seems to be a very relaxed air of calm, only disturbed by the traditional Greek music playing at an acceptably low volume in the background.
As its Mediterranean, all of the usual suspects are listed on the menu – kleftico, moussaka, lamb chops and stifado, but I always find it’s just easier to make better food choices in summertime, when heavy, high- calorie dishes seem much less appealing.
And for a quicker bite, there were pita wraps, burgers and gyros with lamb or chicken; souvlaki with chicken or pork or burger. They come with a side of tzatziki and a heap of fries.
To start I ordered a local salad, brushed with oil, garlic and oregano and set on a bed of tasty lettuce and sprinkled with lemon and crumbled feta. No complaints, but alas, the tomatos were still pale – not lush, bright red and ripe, sadly, this seems to be quite a common occurrence nowadays at many restaurants.
So, with an ocean view and the smell of the sea, my main money was on the fresh fish, which is brought in every morning from the local fishermen that work the calm coastal waters between Cape Greco and Ayia Napa.
Within 20 minutes a platter of deep-fried baby calamari with terrific crispy flecks arrived; it was accompanied by chips and more salad (€13.70). The fresh calamari from the local waters is delicious when properly cooked – it has a more concentrated and meatier flavour than some steaks and even though the meal looks small, it can leave you feeling stuffed.
Other seafood on offer include local sword fish at €12.50, king prawns €16 and grilled octopus for €14.50.
And then a special straight off the blackboard – with the temperature at a sizzling 36C in the sun you won’t be able to resist the House Special ice cream to finish. It consists of Strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, strawberry sauce, nuts, tinned fruits and a cherry – topped with an ice cream cone (€5.90). All of the puddings follow a retro holiday Knickerbocker glory camp vibe, with an array of banana splits, peach Melbas and such treats.
Complimentary fresh water melon came with the bill, which tallied at just €21.30. A quick mention to the staff, who were all were nice, polite and very efficient.
SPECIALITY local cuisine
WHERE Magic Sandy Bay restaurant, 72 Nissi Avenue, Ayia Napa
CONTACT 23 721480
PRICE Mains from €12.50