By Tracy Roth-Rotsas
The Grillhouse Projekt on Limassol’s Makarios Avenue is small but the owners make brilliant use of the space, their inventiveness allowing seating for well over what you would expect should fit or could fit inside. Directly opposite the entrance is a large open kitchen, from which delicious sizzles emanate. So first impressions for my friend and I were pretty good when we went to try out this highly-recommended restaurant, which is essentially an upmarket souvlaki place. Previously a kiosk-slash-takeaway souvlaki joint, we are quite impressed at what they’ve turned it into – even before trying any of the food!
Through the door, a friendly face greets us, gives us menus and asks if we would like a drink. It is indicative of the service all evening, which remains faultless. As the restaurant name suggests, the menu is predominantly grilled meat, with a healthy selection of traditional starters and a spattering of vegetarian options.
I ask about the ‘red tahini’ and am told that it’s a sweeter version, without garlic, but with red onion instead. We both like the idea, so order that, along with some traditional hummus. The chickpea and quinoa salad is next as it sounds delicious – but we are warned that it is a larger serve and quite a heavy dish to be used as a starter. We order it anyway.
One item in particular takes my fancy right away and that is the Australian beef souvlaki with herbs and spices. Partial to good steak, particularly one that melts in the mouth, I’m intrigued that there is an entrée portion of this dish and it gets ordered too. I’m asked how I like it and choose medium-rare. As my friend doesn’t like meat rare, she adds an individual portion of chicken souvlaki to our order.
My friend likes the sound of the grilled meatballs (veal and lamb with basil and a side of tzatziki) and I can’t resist the Whole Cornish Hen, which is cooked whole under a brick! We discuss momentarily the difference between hen and chicken, finally being told that the hen is smaller in size…I am not entirely convinced, but say nothing.
The drinks list is simple and fairly reasonably-priced: some local wines by the bottle or glass, three beers, and soft drinks/fruit juice. The only spirit is zivania. As we are both driving and concentrating on the food, we just order sparkling water with lemon, which quickly arrives.
Mouth-watering aromas are now wafting around us as more people enter. The tzatziki arrives along with very toasty pita bread and the salad which is enormous! I plough into this red concoction of yoghurt and onion and am blown away! It is divine! Sweet like caramelised onions, and with unknown flavours, I end up buying an extra portion for my daughter, it’s so good!
The salad too – though heavy, as the waiter had said – was delicious! Quinoa, chick-peas, avocado, tomato, florina roasted peppers, green onion, balsamic glaze and parsley – what a combination!
The spiced beef souvlaki (starter/individual portion) arrives next and is not medium-rare, but closer to a medium-to-well-done. It’s delicious nonetheless, and now, because there’s no pink centre, my friend is also keen to try some. Despite being a little overcooked, it does melt in the mouth and I am baffled by the spices used as I can’t quite pinpoint the flavour. Regardless of my efforts to discover it, the waiter remains tight-lipped!
The meatballs are both sizeable and tasty, but a little too underdone being much pinker in the middle than either of us would like. The sweet potato fries that come with it, however, are fabulous!
My hen is probably the biggest surprise. A bit larger than a softball, it’s extremely juicy, not at all difficult to navigate all the bones and comes with a piquant bbq sauce and crispy fries.
By the time we leave, we know we will return. A combination this good, of tasty food, great service and a cosy atmosphere is hard to come by at such a low price!
SPECIALTY Grilled meat
WHERE Grillhouse Projekt, Makarios Avenue, Limassol
CONTACT 7005959, www.thegrillhouseprojekt.com
HOW MUCH entrees €2.50-€8; mains €12-€15