By Sarah Coyne
With the weather warming up and our usual eating haunts filling up with visitors to the island, now is the time to hit the road and venture into cooler climes. Monastiroui on the Hill in Kallepia has had a few owners over the last few years. Now, the very charming Kyriacos Kanari runs this restaurant after many years experience in the hotel industry both in Paphos and in France and Holland. The restaurant is positioned looking over the main square of Kallepia which is dominated by a very beautiful church. At night time this flood lit view is stunning. Kanari himself is passionate about food and his aim is to combine traditional Cypriot cooking with influences from other countries with particular emphasis on French cuisine. We had heard good things about the restaurant and we were excited to try some of his dishes.
The restaurant which has been open for just five months has a large bar and a feature fireplace for the winter months. It is traditionally furnished with high quality olive oil/vinegar and cloth napkins (rarely seen these days) on the spotless tables. The menu isn’t huge due to everything being freshly cooked to order. Sadly on the night we visited the Moussaka at a very reasonable €8.95 was unavailable but there were appealing dishes to select from. It is worth mentioning that accompanying the menu is a very detailed page of what exactly is in each dish, very useful for those with food intolerances and allergies. Considering Monastiroui is right in among our local vineyards it would have been nice to see more of the local wineries on the wine menu but for now there are two red, white and rose at reasonable prices.
My dining partner and I selected Prawn Saganaki and Tyrokrokettes to start. We very surprised when a flambé trolley was wheeled across to our table. There is definitely a touch of theatre with Kanari as he cooked the king prawns at our table with cream, garlic and flamed everything in Ouzo. I can’t remember the last time I saw a flambé trolley – maybe during my childhood in the seventies. The reality of the dish was that the King prawns tasted divine and were piping hot. The Tyrokrokettes were like croquettes but made of 3 cheeses and cauliflower. They were served with a sauce made of boiled & reduced grape must, which was excellent and the only disappointment was there wasn’t more of this. But after an explanation from Kanari of how it is made we could understand why. It was excellent.
Onto the main courses, we went for Sea Bass and Lamb Chops to try the range. There was another touch of theatre which all adds to the experience with Kanari bringing the whole fish to the table and expertly filleting it. The fish, we were told, was fresh that day from Paphos and it tasted delicious, cooked as fish should be, in a simple manner. The Lamb Chops were full of flavour, tender and a generous portion. These were both served with a large plate of homemade chips and seasonal vegetables.
We really enjoyed the meal but did suffer from a serious case of food envy. A couple behind us had the Meze which seemed to include some unusual variations. As Kanari brought each dish to the table, he gave them an explanation of what was in it and on hearing all the details we realised that we should have chosen the meze. On leaving, the couple must have been impressed as they booked in straight away for Monastiroui Sunday lunch of Lamb Kleftico. We will certainly make the 20 minute journey from Paphos and return for the Meze soon as the daily temperatures continue to increase.
SPECIALTY Traditional Cypriot Cuisine
WHERE Monastiroui on the Hill, Kallepia, Paphos
WHEN Monday to Saturday from 6pm until Late. Open for lunch by reservation, Sunday Open for Lunch only.
CONTACT 99 675556
HOW MUCH Main Courses from €8.95 to €14.95 (Meat Meze €15.95)