One thing that can definitely be said about Cyprus is that there is no shortage of places to go and eat. This is useful when guests come from abroad! This time, the request was for a traditional meze. As a result, we ended up going to Taverna Zenon. Despite having been in operation for nine years, I had never previously heard of this restaurant. One reason may be that it is hidden down a narrow side street in a residential area. Definitely not something you stumble across while walking around town.
Walking up to the restaurant, it looked like a little taverna with only a few tables and chairs. Despite being completely empty, I still mentioned that we had a reservation. The waiter gestured to us to follow him. Taverna Zenon, it turns out, is much larger than you would think from first appearances. It is quite long and I’d imagine in the winter they have the ability to seat well over 100 people. We were led to a garden that had a ceiling of vine leaves crawling across the wooden structure. The light blue checked tablecloths and traditional wooden chairs with wicker seats were exactly what you would expect from a traditional taverna. We let the waiter know we were there for the meze so he quickly took our drinks order and hurried off to the kitchen.
Moments later, a basket of freshly baked bread was brought to our table alongside a wooden tray that had little bowls carved in to it that had different dips and olives in them. Also served up in a rustic, wooden bowl was a fantastically fresh salad with huge chunks of crumbly feta cheese. No sooner had we put the salad on our plates and the halloumi arrived. A huge rectangular chunk that was soft and warm, it was SO good! Next up a more unusual dish, a soufflé made with fresh cream, chicken and mushrooms, covered in hot melted cheese.
The walls here are adorned with black and white pictures of what Larnaca used to look like. Additionally, there were some musical instruments hanging up and even an old bicycle. However, the decoration that caught my eye was the front end of a Volkswagen Beetle. An unusual touch at a traditional taverna.
Most of the regular dishes that come with a meze were brought out. It was all so well done. The soft, succulent chicken and pork souvlaki and the juicy sieftalies were a delight. The pourgouri was also lovely. However, instead of being served with yogurt, it had small, soft pieces of wine flavoured pork on top. The keftedes were firm on the outside and soft on the inside. They were served up on a little saucer that had a thin layer of tzatziki spread out in order to hold the keftedes in place and prevent them from rolling around. First time I’ve seen that! One thing we noticed, especially with the pork dishes, was that they were not served with lemon and we had to ask for it. The last dishes out were pork bacon pieces, crispy chicken wings and strangely, egg mixed with courgette and spinach, which is almost always served near the beginning.
Awaiting the verdict from my visiting guest his exact words were ‘there wasn’t one dish that I didn’t enjoy!’
Once the plates had all been cleared we were brought out a treat. Kalo prama (Good thing) is semolina cake with syrup. It was firm and not absolutely smothered in syrup, just the right amount. I think I may have found my new recommendation when people want to try something new.
WHERE taverna Zenon, Makedonias 8, Larnaca
HOW MUCH €17.50 for meze