By Alexander McCowan
Six months ago my grand-daughter, the Jazzy one, wanted to take me to the Market Company restaurant, but they wouldn’t let us in even though the place was empty when we made the request for a table.
It appeared every table was taken and that was that, so there.
At the time I thought it might have been a blatant case of face control, and who could blame them. But no; this joint packs out every night of the week, and I should know because we went there last Tuesday.
My guest, who visited the establishment during daylight to book our place described the site as a cross between the Berlin Wall and downtown Bronx: and on reflection this seemed apposite.
Dining is mostly done al-fresco and the customers are expected to occupy the type of furniture last seen decorating Churchill’s bunker – metal is in. The wall opposite is covered in what might pass for sub-Banksy and emphasises our county’s interest in ‘Street Culture’ and a welcome departure from the usual moronic efforts.
The collective age of our quartet is about three hundred and cushions are made readily provided to insulate the withering loins from the bare metal; I thought this a nice touch in a restaurant that clearly caters for the more youthful figure.
We are seated by 8.30pm – keep this time in mind – and the waiting staff are immediately alerted; the menu is simple, one page of salads and specialities. The drinkers selected a bottle of Petrides Rose while perusing the card. All four salads look attractive – smoked salmon with beetroot, chives, radish, orange and fennel with an orange vinegrette and the others equally attractive; the cous-cous salad looked very interesting, but we settled on the smoked salmon. We gave orders for main courses at the same time.
There are thirteen items on the main menu and most of them command attention. It starts with pate and peach and concludes with ravioli and ricotta; in between there is prawns and ouzo, crusted seared tuna, salmon fillet, crispy calamari, tempura chicken, beef fillet, aromatic potatoes and so on. We chose, after enquiring as to origin – New Zealand – beef fillet, tempura chicken, ravioli, salmon fillet and the dish of aromatic potatoes.
The speed of delivery is remarkable: the salad, enough for four, arrives at the same time as the chicken which is so good we order another. The place is packed by now and the staff are being harangued by determined diners for a seat – more chairs and tables appear – by now there are about a hundred mouths to feed.
The rest of our order appears sans salmon. Everyone agrees that the food is first rate: the beef, which is the sharp end of the fillet is exactly as ordered – rare – and spot on. The Italian companion is impressed:
I am amazed at the price – €9.50 – never to be repeated in Nicosia. The brother, a man of delicate tastes, has nothing but good to say about his ravioli and the sister-in-law – a formidable former domestic science teacher – has nothing to say as her dish has not yet arrived; ‘two minutes’ said the speedy waiter.
Another dish of delicious tempura chicken arrives and momentarily mollifies the hungry relative. Ten minutes pass and no show of salmon; time for action. Entering the main hub of operations I sought the man in charge; ‘where is my salmon’ I proclaim, if not demand; ‘two minutes’ is the response. By now it is 10.15 and the relative is seething and determined to turn loose ‘the dogs of war’. She heads for the kitchen and almost immediately the elusive fish appears.
Clearly the chef had trouble landing it, next time he will use a bigger net. However, this incident blighted the evening, which was in all other respects impressive. We had been seated far enough away from the obligatory pounding pop for it not to aggravate; the food was good, ambience interesting; but how does one describe service that excludes a member of the party. Was it a subtle move to discourage the Saga brigade to make more room for the fashionistas that clearly have laid claim to ‘The Market’ one ponders. Surely not.
Not deterred by the ageism we progress to the sweets of which there are five. The companion and the s-i-l select the blueberry cheese cake with the brother being satisfied with the very strange cookie mix that consisted of a chocolate biscuit with praline and peanut butter filling topped by vanilla ice-cream. These were delivered in person by the pastry chef who disclaimed any knowledge of the errant salmon.
All sweets were proclaimed to be good. Coffees followed and off to the nightcap and bed-socks.
SPECIALTY International with a Hellenic bent
WHERE The Market Company, Pythonos 8 off Onosagoras St, Nicosia
CONTACT 22 270504, Booking essential
WHEN 10am to 2am. Breakfast available
PRICE Very reasonable