Four years ago this establishment had the reputation of being ‘Not for the likes of us’. Allegedly it was owned by a coterie of plutocratic lawyers that wanted somewhere to take their wealthy clients and give the impression that Nicosia was populated only by the rich and even richer. I recall being rejected when the very haughty controller gave my corduroys (slightly worn) the once over, and claimed she was fully booked for the next year, probably longer. She followed me out to ensure I didn’t grab a canape, and I made a note to gloat after they went under.
However, my friend, a Belgian gourmet who knows his onions, suggests I try it. Well, it’s Wednesday, easy parking. The companion is preparing for something fishy and we are greeted and seated at a table for two covered with linen so bright and white it would have graced an angel. The tables are well spaced as one would expect in a restaurant owned by officers of the court. It is early and not very busy. Our waiter informs us his name is Kat, which is short for Katolin, he is Romanian and has played rugby. All very Julian: the night conspires to interest.
The menus are in Greek, English and Russian. We order a small a bottle of ouzo, always a good palate tempter for a fish course. The companion demurred over the fish meze, which consisted of the usual accompanying dishes and ten different marine dwellers; we gave the risotto and pasta a pass and the fresh fish sold by the kilo: I buy by weight from my fishmonger. The starter list is interesting and reasonable. Beginning with Fish soup – not Bouillabaisse – with herbs, vegetables and croutons; baby octopus in balsamic with chopped peppers and oregano; Greek spreads at €1.70 each, including a home made taramosalata; Smoked salmon and some other simple dishes. The chef that has the courage to offer fish soup has to be supported, and the companion likes baby octopus, although we had agreed earlier not to eat this formidably intelligent invertebrate, but this one is so small it won’t be missed – they don’t have many in Piedmonte. There are four salads; the seafood variety contains mussels, prawns, squid, octopus with cherry tomatoes, greens, and quinoa with aromatic dressing.
I order a dish of sautee’d mussels in an ouzo and cream sauce with a plate of grilled cuttlefish, but I only want a half dish of each: ‘no problem’ said the scrum-half. In addition, because we have a lot of bread on the table, I want to try the taramosalata. The deep fried squid suited the companion. If the ingredients have been frozen the management mark the dish with a star.
The service was first rate. The meals arrived in perfect order, none of that traffic jam one may encounter in less well regulated establishments.
Those diners with a deep wallet might celebrate the occasion with Chablis, but would you believe, the management want us to try ‘Oinou Gi’ a very dry Xynisteri produced on their own vineyard in Omodos. ‘It cannot be purchased outside the restaurant’ and is five euros cheaper than any of our popular dry whites. What a pleasure. When I eat any of the sweet fish sauces I prefer a sharp visitor to the palate.
An excellent evening, no sign of the termagant. Good food, ambiance, service and management. Thank you Andreas. The chairs are very comfortable, an important feature for the older diner.
If you go there mid-week you will discover why it is so popular.
SPECIALTY Fish and crustaceae
WHERE 11 Diagorou Street, Nicosia. Along from TGI’s
CONTACT 22 665577, 99 220470
PRICE Not unreasonable