Paphos old town is one of my favourite areas of the district but despite an expensive facelift to many of the buildings it has sadly lacked a decent restaurant for as long as I can remember.
Six weeks ago, that all changed.
I was pleased to learn that a new restaurant Honey had opened at the historic Ibrahim’s Khan (also known as the Hani – hence the play on words of the venue’s name), a fantastic, beautifully restored building that was historically used as an inn.
Artists and artisans occupy the individual units but an eatery was so obviously missing and its presence will now help to breathe life into a magnificent space.
Walking through the archway entrance to the Khan on a chilly December evening, the building looks at its best, the stone walls and wooden and glass doorways lit up and inviting.
Approaching Honey, wafting aromas delight and tantalise and as we stepped up onto the outdoor veranda, which is sure to be sought after during the summer, the simplicity and warmth of the restaurant became apparent.
Honey serves modern Mediterranean cuisine under the expert guidance of head chef Italian Matteo Mariangeli, who has honed his impressive skills in Italy, France, New York, Perth and Greece.
A smiling, charming and well turned out member of the floor staff opened the door and welcomed us to the wonderful yet simple interior, high wooden ceilings, exposed stone walls, sleek bar and well placed tables.
Owned by Tatiana and Yiannis, who have already established Boulevard as a successful bistro and wine bar at the other end of the old town, this venue is something else.
I liked Honey immediately, the ambiance, the welcome, the level of professionalism, the wine list and most importantly, the menu.
This is a concise list, although specials and dishes of the day are chalked up on a board, depending on what takes the chef’s fancy from the freshest or seasonal offerings at market.
I ordered the octopus saganaki to start: perfectly cooked octopus topped with crumbled local feta cheese on a simple charcoal coloured earthenware plate which set off the delicately spiced red tomato sauce to perfection. My friend chose the beef carpaccio with truffle oil, equally as sumptuous, presented Italian style with fresh rocket leaves, baby tomatoes and Parmesan shavings. Both were delicious. I was also tempted by the pumpkin souffle and one of my favourite Italian treats, parmigiana di melanzane.
The wine list is full of excellent local wines among other offerings and as we are both only having ‘just the one’, a well-informed member of staff conferred as to our tastes and advised us which wines we should try. I ordered a rather lovely glass of local white chardonnay and my companion a full bodied rosé. We wereboth literally in heaven.
The appreciative murmurs continued as we dug into our mains. I opted for the lamb chops in Mediterranean bread crust mint sauce and my friend for the tagliatelle red beetroots rabbit ragout. They both tasted as good as they looked. The lamb was served on a wooden board atop caramelised cabbage, and the ragout, which is a delicious tangle of traditional Italian tones, enhanced the delicate flavour of the rabbit.
I also ordered the grilled vegetables with thyme as an accompaniment, which really wasn’t necessary and next time will choose the roast potatoes which looked divine.
The presentation of all of the dishes (I also had a good look at the other tables too) was perfect. Just the right amount of ‘show’ was applied and didn’t distract from the perfectly cooked offerings on any of the plates.
I plan to work my way through the menu in the coming weeks; Australian Angus beef steak, sea bass caponata Sicilian style, pork fillets marinated in dijon sauce and grilled calamari all appeal to my taste buds.
We didn’t have enough room for dessert, but other tables were savouring semifeddo croccante, tiramisu and bavarese due cioccolata.
Although only recently opened, the venue filled up fast and booking is advised. The clientele were mostly local Cypriots who devoured their food, like us, with a huge amount of well-deserved vocal appreciation.
Honey epitomises all that is good about an enjoyable meal out, a well priced experience, excellent service in a stunning location which is both modern and traditional, well executed, dishes bursting with flavour and freshness, a fine wine list and a lovely atmosphere.
Honey is surely already up there with the best restaurants that Paphos has to offer.
WHERE Honey Restaurant, Ibrahim’s Khan, Paphos Old Town
CONTACT 99 885645, Facebook: Honey modern Mediterranean restaurant
PRICE Octopus saganaki €9.50, Lamb chops in mediterranean bread crust mint sauce €14, Tiramisu €5