By Tracy Roth-Rotsas
Every time I have eaten at Ta Piatakia (Little Plates) it has been a fairly emotional occasion, catching up with friends I’ve not seen in years or a milestone birthday, and the dining experience is wrapped up in this.
Self-taught chef, author, and owner Roddy Damalis has created his own unique niche when it comes to providing a different type of restaurant experience based on the concept that memories and good food are intertwined. He has written books about it, he runs cookery workshops to explain it, and his entire menu is an example of it. The idea of the restaurant is Mediterranean tapas with many choices of smaller portioned dishes to allow you more of a variety. It works exceptionally well in groups though not as well for a couple. There is an assortment of special offers which change frequently, and are predominantly seasonal, since Roddy focusses almost entirely on using local seasonal produce.
The restaurant is unassuming from the outside. A heavy glass door leads you into a room, the walls of which are adorned with plates of varying designs and decorations and share their space begrudgingly with a myriad of framed articles and photographs of the restaurant, Roddy and his book releases. It’s a cosy space which has an intoxicating and warm vibe to it. Upstairs is a glassed “wine room” and next door, a fully-equipped cookery workshop can be viewed through a large glass pane from the restaurant, which is entirely soundproofed, so it’s kind of like watching the TV on mute, regardless of which side of the glass you’re on.
The menu is a delectable assortment of taste sensations in very small print, the richness of the Portuguese, Indian and Cape Malay palates gleaned from Roddy’s South-African roots evident. Offerings of an amuse-bouche to start with are cute morsels and change frequently. A spiced carrot soup – is my choice and comes in a teeny-tiny soup canteen together with a teeny-tiny spoon. It doesn’t disappoint, not as thick as a puree, but rich and flavoursome, nonetheless.
Due to my familiarity with the staples of the menu, I reel off our main dish choices to the waiter with the precision and speed of an automatic rifle: deep-fried celery leaves; seasonal salad with fruit; duck with preserved walnuts; feta in filo drizzled with honey; chicken strips in sesame with piri-piri sauce; and sizzling strips of beef rib-eye. I feel I have left something off – oh yes, it’s the halloumi wrapped in bacon! One of my friends grumbles under her breath that she hasn’t herself chosen anything. I know she’ll forgive me once the food arrives.
Possibly the only downside to the restaurant’s established popularity is that Roddy himself is not our waiter for the night (he used to be the only one to explain the menu and take orders). Though he passes later to check on us and take our dessert order, the omission of his passionate explanation of the menu earlier is noticeable and lamented.
The food arrives. The crunchy celery leaves are coated in a slightly spiced, crispy coating and are completely moreish. I tell myself they are healthy. I mean, it’s celery, after all! A large bowl of salad is placed on the table and I love the way the sweetness of the fruit invigorates the flavours of the honey mustard dressing and shards of hard cheese. Juicy bacon rolled around juicy halloumi is wolfed down along with the rich honeyed feta parcels before we realise there is still chicken, beef and duck to go.
The meats are more well-done than I expect, but tasty nevertheless, complemented beautifully by their respective sauces, particularly the duck which is very sweet and although the chicken wasn’t as crispy as I anticipated, the sauce was tangy and piquant. The bite-sized beef strips however, were tender, moist and absolutely divine.
Dessert, and the chilli brownie option piques our curiosity. Wow! What an amazing sensation to bite into luscious, almost fudge-like chocolate which warms the back of your throat as you eat it! We cheekily order a second helping… and consider buying one of Roddy’s two recipe books to see if Chilli Brownie is in there, to make at home!
SPECIALTY Small plates for sharing
WHERE Ta Piatakia, Nikodimou Mylona, Limassol
CONTACT 25 745017
HOW MUCH starters €1.50-€5, mains €8.50-€19.50, taster menu €38 pp