By Tracy Roth-Rotsas
Nestled in the heart of Episkopi – and owned and run by brothers John and Marios Ioannou – is Cava restaurant and tavern, which was recently given a complete makeover, finally bringing its décor up to the standard of its cuisine.
At the entrance is an array of plants and trees, a gate and a barrel… remnants of the older, more traditional décor. Once inside however, it’s modern and sleek design with linen tablecloths, linen-covered chairs and phosphorescent blue decorative lighting, against the type of stone walls you see on houses in the mountains: large, chunky, and very homely.
Seated, I catch a glimpse of flames rising spectacularly from the kitchen through the serving area – it almost qualifies as an “open” kitchen, but not quite.
Our drinks order taken, we are presented with some toasty warm bread and complimentary dips: fresh yoghurt and sweet cream cheese – a nice start to the evening.
As we are dining late, only a few patrons are left, though virtually every table has been cleared down to the basics of a burgundy strip of cloth on white linen – a sure sign that the night was a busy one despite being middle of the week! Most of the people eating here are foreigners, expats or long-time locals, coming back repeatedly for what they know to be excellent value.
The menu appears to cater for everybody, allergies, sensitivities and individual tastes alike (vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free in particular). I have decided beforehand not to order a steak and am seriously considering the risotto or duck breast until John says “Of course, the steaks are excellent!”, so I’m instantly sold and opt for that. My friend chooses the local fish, though sharing the two dishes has not been ruled out completely. We decide to go the whole hog and have a three-course night, so we flick back to the entrees and are enticed by ravioli stuffed with mushrooms, and grilled prawns. It’s a difficult choice as the menu encompasses so many international and local options.
When the dishes arrive, they are beautifully presented. The prawns have already been cleaned and taste quite succulent. A slightly-spiced sweet sauce and light salad with a honey dressing are the accompaniments to this dish and make for a perfect starter. The ravioli on the other hand, is deceptively rich, sitting in a small pool of buttery sauce, comprising a soft, velvety mushroom filling inside a melt-in-your-mouth al dente casing. A sprinkling of julienne vegetables tops off this tasty starter.
Our mains are brought to us and it’s hard not to gasp in admiration. A thick, charred steak – cooked exactly as I’ve ordered (medium-rare) – sits on a bed of smooth, creamy mashed potato and shares the plate with a small mound of slightly-crisp boutique seasonal vegetables including snow peas, courgette, mushrooms, and carrots rolled in a buttery sauce. Being difficult (in the name of research), I’ve ordered both the mushroom and the pepper sauce for the steak but fail miserably at choosing one over the other and end up mixing the two on my plate, they taste so good!
The fish comes filleted and tastes divine! Sitting on a bed of white rice, with the same vegetables as the steak, the flesh falls apart at the touch of the knife, it’s so fresh and tender.
Finally we get to dessert and the choice is without a doubt the raspberry cheesecake, though there is a healthy selection of homemade goodies. It surpasses expectation providing a creamy filling, with not just one layer of raspberry on top but another in the middle! The biscuit base is softer than I usually like it but works perfectly with the creamier filling.
Overall, we find Cava to be excellent value for money and a wonderful place to spend the evening, just don’t forget to reserve in advance!
WHERE Cava Restaurant & Tavern, 88, Nikou Georgiou St, Episkopi, Limassol
WHEN 5.30pm (kitchen closes 10pm) Monday-Saturday
CONTACT 99 478851, www.facebook.com/Cava.Restaurant.Tavern/
HOW MUCH Avg cost 3-course meal (including wine) €35-45pp