In a town the size of Larnaca it can be complicated to find new spots to eat, both due to the not-so-rapid popping up of establishments as well as the fear of them not being as good as the already-tested existing restaurants.
But sometimes, you end up being pleasantly surprised by the fact that some of the longest-standing spots in the town which you had not previously tried were actually far better than you expected.
In the heart of town, towards Phinikoudes, lies a small restaurant that some speak very highly of and others simply never knew it existed, called Zanaar, which labels itself as a French restaurant, with a very unique touch.
Approaching the place, you get an instant feeling that you are entering something unique. From the elaborate décor near the entrance and its radiant colours displayed around the interior, the quirkiness of the restaurant, as well as its warmness are the first impressions one gets of Zanaar.
We are immediately greeted by the warm, friendly and wide-smiled owner, who guides us to our table. Shortly after getting settled in and while still perusing the menu, some warm rolls of bread arrive with various dips, which was a nice touch and unsettle those typical few who are overanxious to order before properly scanning the list of options.
This is not your typical menu – each dish is unique and specially crafted. Options for starters include brie salad, tart with spinach and smoked trout moose. For main, there are things like smoked duck salad, pork fillet with mango chutney and chicken with mushroom sauce.
They do a very appealing offer for a set menu lunch at just €9.99, and a dinner set menu, which was what we went for, at €14.99. I ended up going for the potato soup for starter – a rich, creamy combination with a salty edge to it, an ideal starter as it does not fill you up.
In typical fashion, we each tried each other’s dishes, and even ordered little bits on the side for everyone to share. The avocado salad with dried fruit and nuts was appealing and the spinach tart, which was soft, tasty and full of various spices which added to the flavour.
For main, I went for the mushroom and broccoli tagliatelle. The first thing I noticed was the significantly larger portion than the one I am accustomed to at other restaurants when it comes to pasta dishes. More importantly, the vegetables were cooked right, enough so as to get the full taste of the contents.
Accompanying the dinner was live music from the resident pianist, which served as a relaxing backdrop to the evening. This more homely and personal touch was apparent in each step of the dining experience – from our welcome at the door, to our warm and knowledgeable waitress, we were treated like royalty from start to finish.
The restaurant, though modest in appearance, is a refreshing change from some of the more typical options available in town, and in terms of value for money, few could offer anything better.
The restaurant was far from full when we went, and others in our crowd said that it rarely ever is. So, if indeed that is the case then this quaint, unpretentious little restaurant seems to be somewhat a hidden gem in Larnaca.
WHERE Zanaar, Stasinou, Larnaca
CONTACT 24 665844