By Alexander McCowan
A dear friend, and unquestionably in the premier division of culinary skills – a PhD in pastry – for many years recommended the above for providing the best table in Nicosia. I was based close by at the time and reluctant to review it as the chef was known to me. But time passed, the premises changed hands, and mixed opinions were circulating.
The premises are inside the walls, along from Famagusta Gate, and certainly among the most attractive settings for an intimate evening. A large paved courtyard overlooked by a narrow balcony and shaded by mature trees providing cover for about 60 diners. All current health regulations were being adhered to by staff and diners. We are seated on the balcony with an ice bucket, two large glasses and a half bottle of Ploumari. Good start. The only hazard one could ascertain is that the establishment is favoured by the political and diplomatic brigade.
A word to the unwary, the menus are written in Greek without translation, but the staff are most attentive and fluent in menu speak. While the language is on the classic side, the card is on one page and simple, in the sense that the customer is given a limited choice of prime cuts and imaginative preparation.
To start, we agreed to share all dishes, we were given a basket of scorching pitta with a bowl of hummus brimming with chick peas that set us up for the courgette fritters and the excellent salad, locally sourced, containing huge slices of tomato-tasting tomatoes, purslane, and feta in a sweet vinaigrette. There are five other salads from which to choose.
The main courses are a challenge: nothing will be familiar to the casual tavern diner. While chicken and pork make an appearance there cannot be a discerning diner that would miss the chance to consume a plate of shredded kid baked in a dish of seasoned bougouri.
The proprietors wisely promote our local wines and they are well matched to the cuisine. We have a Cabernet Sauvignon from Kyperountas that serves us well with the goat, and the boned roasted joint of young lamb on a bed of potatoes, served whole, and accompanied by the carving apparatus: a peerless dish. One must admit to a slight flagging in the appetite, until our waiter presented us with bowl of game chips; would you believe. The last time I saw such delights they surrounded a dozen partridge in Simpsons on the Strand 40 years ago when celebrating the acquittal of a good friend.
Sweets are limited. We chose a chef baked Halva with their own vanilla ice-cream. The pudding was a little on the dense side for me. Otherwise an excellent evening.
WHERE Ectoris 61, Nicosia, Famagusta Gate area
WHEN Closed on Sunday
PRICE Not cheap