By Nan Mackenzie
Writing a glowing restaurant review is a bit like writing about sex, there’s such a meagre and very quickly exhausted Thesaurus that a writer can draw from, but, when it comes to slagging off an establishment the language of abuse is so wonderfully rich and so much more extensive. That’s why reviews that start off saying the toilets exploded, the waiter had catastrophic BO and the meat served was so overcooked diners could have walked home in it are found to be highly entertaining.
This week there will be no outlet for any such witticisms as the Lengo Tavern is excellent in almost every regard – the toilets are fine, the waitress is sweetness personified, and the meat, if being compared to foot wear, would have to be likened to Manolo Blahniks.
Lengo has only been open for 10 weeks and already it’s impressed both locals and visitors with its quirky yet very approachable style of cooking local dishes. First, and importantly, restaurants work best when they are the expression of an individual and they certainly don’t come any more expressive than Chef/owner Petros Mavros whose ebullience and sheer unadulterated passion for food makes eating at Lengo a genuine pleasure. All is without any artifice or pomposity, for he is not there to win attention from the makers of lists, Mavros is in the business of welcoming people and sending them home well fed and happy.
There is no printed menu, it’s a case of being told what there is to eat, you choose, they then bring, so none of that ‘can I explain the concept’ type of drivel, and if someone wants a meze fine, or if another wishes a dish from the meze as a main that’s also fine.
Everything is made in house – only the raw ingredients are sourced from local suppliers, and the wines served are all from Paphos wineries.
We started off with a winter pumpkin soup which chef believes perfectly prepares the stomach to appreciate the rest of the food to come; he bakes his own bread either with sesame or herbs, and its truly deliciously Moorish stuff. For those with a gluten problem he can also prepare a full meal to satisfy if given a day’s notice.
Mavros was trained in hotel management in Switzerland then lived and worked for a time in Spain, explaining the presence of Paella on the menu, which we also sampled and voted a major hit – it comes in a seafood, chicken or meat version. Even his dips come with a twist from the norm with a bowl of boiled kolokasi salad topped with a special taramas mayonnaise; his hummus is a rich tan expression of silkiness with just a dash of smoked paprika and bitter orange juice having been added to the traditional mix of ingredients.
His pasta isn’t just boiled in water as per normal he uses a recipe from Corfu which is called Pastitsada where a cockerel is cooked in red wine and the juice is then used to cook the pasta, this is typical of the passion this man has for flavour and that’s followed through in his making of all stocks used in his cooking. Mushrooms have become one of his signature dishes using three types, Oyster, white, and Portobello mixed with wild asparagus and spinach then pan fried with spring onions and fresh mint.
Open for both lunch and dinner, diners can expect a totally seasonal menu although the twists are always there such as lambs liver flambéed with Zivonia then deglazed with Commanderia or his quite delicious lobster served with thick macaroni. The food is all of his own making and totally fresh, both to the eye and to the palette.
So, that’s it, nothing but praise for a man who cooks genuine Cypriot ‘Soul Food’. Shame really, I have been itching to find a restaurant where the toilet exploded!
SPECIALTY Cypriot with a twist
WHERE Lengo Tavern, Paphos
CONTACT 99 217165, 26 948003
PRICE meze €17
WHEN Closed Sunday evening and all day Monday, open for lunch Tuesday-Friday