By Nan Mackenzie
It just harder and harder to find places where one can eat, drink and relax in comfortable surroundings, where the waiting staff genuinely enjoy the job; places which respect one’s digestive system, allowing you to leave feeling as if the entire experience was pleasant and at the same time offer excellent value for money. Tavernas which once shone brightly as decent honest eateries have now either closed or been taken over by folk no longer interested in traditional food. Personally I want a taverna to stick to the path it knows best and that’s certainly not to go off and wander down the international cuisine route. So, it was a huge relief to discover Ta Perix in Mouttalos for this is a taverna that sticks to what they know best – serving customers delicious Cypriot dishes in a truly original manner.
We have all experienced the endless parade of dishes which go to creating a meze, with some dishes disappearing rapidly, others one just ignores or, if a pet owner, you then reach for the Tupperware container in your bag. Inevitably there is then a good level of wastage as untouched or poked at dishes will return to the kitchen. Savvas, the owner of Ta Perix, has solved this problem and in doing so has kept his prices at a very reasonable level with his DIY menu, here diners are presented with a one page printed list of 50 dishes broken up into ‘appetisers’ ‘charcoal meze’ ‘meat dishes on charcoal’ ‘boiled’ and ‘vegetables’ you then decide which dishes you desire either for two or four people, each dish has a price per portion so you can then create your very own meze.
Dining with a Cypriot friend who has been a regular here since the place opened six years ago, he enjoys being able to select his favourite dishes and have guests feel comfortable that they will not be totally overwhelmed by volume, only by quality. He enjoys hearty meat dishes whereas I savour more the dips and stuffed vegetables and wild mushrooms, so we started with the spicy cheese dip (Tyrokafteri) and homemade garlic dip (Skordalia) followed by tomato and halloumi cheese, a platter of seasoned avocado, delicious pickled quails eggs, and Moorish baked olives.
Savvas makes a point of always buying as much of his ingredients on a seasonal basis as possible, which means the meze list alters accordingly so when zucchini flowers are in bloom he offers them stuffed with feta, wild asparagus and artichokes are also popular and during the wet winter months there is seemingly a huge demand for his “big snails”. This man is also a bit of a fungi devotee and roots out for his customers some of the very best juicy wild mushrooms which go straight on the charcoal grill, and for meat lovers there is also lamb or pork chops, liver, chicken, sheftalia, kebab, pigeon or quail.
The end result was a meze where all the dishes served were returned to the kitchen empty plus the bill at the end of the meal including a bottle of Tsangarides dry white wine was less than the usual standard one off charge for a meze anywhere else. The key here though is the ability to choose which dishes you want to be included. Importantly they arrive fresh and taste marvellous.
The place itself is rather attractive. Set apart from the village square in a big garden area it was once a family home and still has that warm welcoming feel to it, there is also a small bar area and smoking station for folk who just want to taste test some good local wines and nibble on some appetisers.
I really liked TaPerix both for the food and as a venue. It’s run by a family who understand the dynamics of running a tavern by not ripping off on the food nor by marking the drinks bill up to ridiculous levels. Here they just want you to enjoy your food so you will be happy enough to make a return visit and to pass on this new discovery to family and friends.
SPECIALTY Traditional Cypriot
WHERE Ta Perix, Mouttalos, Paphos
CONTACT 99 632054
PRICE meze dishes priced individually from €1.50-5