By Sarah Coyne
With yet another new restaurant for Paphos, the seaside town must be vying for the title of gastronomic capital of Cyprus. Positioned on the main road as you drive down to the Mall, Pinaleon is situated in a beautiful old carob mill, after it took the owners five years to find the perfect premises. Andreas Constantinou and Yiannis Ioannou have been friends for many years and have worked in many successful establishments in Paphos and decided to combine their catering experience to open their dream place: Pinaleon, which translates to mean Hungry Lion. Pinaleon opened just before Christmas and both men are charming hosts and their passion for their new restaurant shines through.
The carob mill building is a large space set out with many green and white check tables in a traditional rustic Cypriot style. From the outside it doesn’t look much but don’t let that put you off as the exterior is a work in progress. Inside the decoration is finished and all about food with the walls sectioned into different food groups – olives, carobs, wheat and wine. There are many dried herbs and spices used for decoration around the walls.
This is a meze restaurant but a meze with a difference in that you can select exactly what dishes you desire from the menu. This way you aren’t going to have anything appear at your table that you don’t like. The menu is extensive but the priority of the kitchen is to provide fresh seasonal produce which means that a lot of the menu may not be available. Seasonal produce is a passion of chef Andreas, and he is often to be found out and about in the countryside foraging for fresh produce.
The menu is divided into cold starters, hot starters, meze on the grill, meat on the grill and side orders. You then have the choice to select a portion for two or four persons. For our meal we selected the village salad, tsatziki, spicy cheese dip, fried rocket with eggs and fresh onion, halloumi, lamb chops with wild oregano and chicken from the grill. They were accompanied by French fires sprinkled with wild oregano – homemade which is always a good sign. All were excellent but the highlight of the night for us were the fresh wild mushrooms which were recommended by chef Andreas. We had three dishes including red wild mushrooms from the forest of Cyprus, white wild mushrooms from Paphos and red mushrooms cooked in rose wine, spices and onions. All three dishes were superb and we were lucky our visit coincided with these mushrooms being available.
Other dishes which were available included pickled quails’ eggs, boiled snails with olive oil and vinegar and fried artichokes with eggs.
We finished with a complimentary dessert which was one of the best orange cakes we have ever tasted. After the meze, we were all so full we declined the offer of dessert but it came anyway and we all stopped talking and polished it off with speed. The dessert changes on a daily basis.
The wine list was reasonably priced with Cypriot and Greek wines. Pinaleon produces Cypriot and Greek cuisine offering a truly authentic experience with fresh seasonal produce cooked to perfection. We will certainly return throughout the year.
SPECIALTY Greek and Cypriot Cuisine
WHERE Pinaleon, Apostolou Pavlou, Paphos
PRICE 2 to 12 euros
WHEN Open 7 days 6pm – 11pm