By Alexander McCowan
If you are wondering what CVAR means, it’s neither Russian nor Latin, but is in fact the Centre of Visual Arts Research established by the Severis Foundation and located inside the walls of Nicosia’s old city in Ermou Street, across the road from that other cultural venue The Shoe Factory, home to The Pharos Trust. But where CVAR has the advantage is that it has a restaurant, so that when one has exhausted the mind and eye on the visual treasures displayed, one may dine in the comfort of its crystal bright surroundings to the mellow tones of Francis Albert Sinatra, a very rare treat in central Nicosia.
We arrived on a chilly Wednesday night and were greeted by Stephanos, the manager, who showed us to a table for two with a good view of the other diners. The settings are crisp bright and white. The super attendant staff, Katerina and Christiana, provide menus and wine list. We are very fond of menus that limit the offers, it generally indicates that the contents are fresh and well chosen. The card opens with a choice of two salads; apple, prosciutto di Parma, with goat’s cheese and a mustard vinaigrette and the other consisting of halloumi with lettuce hearts, walnuts and pomegranate dressing. There are two starters namely: Tempura prawns with an avocado sauce or pistachio chevre cheese with honey mint sauce.
Madam the companion, who will always side with a dish that promotes Italy, orders the prosciutto salad and I settle on the prawns. First surprise of the evening was the size of the meals; the salad is served in a white china bowl and could feed four; my prawns are huge, like baby lobsters and there are three of them – the tempura was not as fluffy as I like but the Crustacea are shelled and cooked to perfection, the avocado was a clever addition. The wine list, which features some of the best of our native products is surprisingly well chosen: very few duds. As madam wants fish and I want lamb we settle for a rose.
The main courses start with sea bass marinated with pesto coriander and served on sauté spinach and peas; chicken breast with black truffle caviar sauce and wild mushrooms served with creamed mashed potatoes; lamb tenderloin glazed with honey mustard infused with herbs, served with mashed celeriac – what a treat; when was the last time you were offered mashed pots and celeriac by a chef? There is also a beef fillet from the Antipodes served with crispy baby potatoes, sauté asparagus and rocca, followed by a risotto and wild mushrooms and a vegetarian moussaka.
Our choices were excellent. The fish was a single fillet perfectly done and my lamb was among the best I have eaten anywhere; I loved the celeriac.
We finished the evening with crushed lemon tart on raspberry sauce which we shared; meringue is not one of the chef’s strengths but it was delicious.
This is a very classy joint that caters for the serious diner and the boulevardier that just requires an intimate corner with a bottle and a cheese platter. Perfect location for the concert goer whose appetite has been stirred by the classics at the Pharos across the road.
All in, an excellent evening: this place will thrive. Well done chef Gregoris.
SPECIALTY International cuisine
WHERE 285, Ermou St, Nicosia, the road opp. Famagusta Gate
CONTACT 22 300992
PRICE Main courses from €10