By Sarah Coyne
When your well-travelled friend comes from Nicosia to Paphos and suggests a restaurant you have never heard of that is just five minutes from where you live it is a bit embarrassing. I had never heard of Filiotis by the Sea, but when she explained where it was, I realised I had driven past it many times and never paid it any attention. It is on the main Paphos airport road. The road we either drive down full of joy to meet our arriving loved ones or feeling very sad as we deliver them for their imminent departure from the island.
For many years I have ignored the large sign pointing to a fish restaurant towards the sea. My mistake. On our arrival, we were amazed to see how busy it was on a weekday lunchtime. Filitios is only open for lunch during the week, and the place was nearly full with locals. Foolishly, we had not made a reservation but were lucky enough to get the last table, and even more fortunate that it was right next to the sea.
It is the location that really sets this restaurant apart and makes it a truly memorable dining experience. With the seafront location and beautiful views, few restaurants in the world could beat it. Yes, you do hear the odd plane coming in, but the main sounds are the waves crashing against the shore.
While there is a large inside space for the winter months, the outside area is spectacular, not just for its location, but also in terms of the design. A lot of thought has gone into the blue and white theme, with large arched windows, making the most of the surrounding natural environment. Though it is a simple interior with blue and white checked tablecloths, it certainly has a designer feel. On the day we visited it was very hot but the direct breeze from the sea offered a welcome respite from the heat.
This restaurant is truly a family business in every sense. Andreas Filiotis has owned it for the last 37 years. Today his son, George, is in the kitchen and his charming daughter, Elena, is front of house. They source their fish from their own fishing boat moored in Paphos harbour and other local fishermen. “If we don’t have fresh fish we close. It is as simple as that,” Elena said.
The fish menu is extensive but obviously depends on what has been caught that day – most of the menu is fresh but there are a couple of frozen options clearly highlighted on the menu. Fresh Red Mullet, Red Snapper, White Bream, Fresh Lobster, Crayfish and Grouper can all be seen in the fish chiller cabinet inside the restaurant. We observed that most tables were partaking of the Fish Meze experience, which includes over 10-12 fish options, as well as the usual salads and dips. Thinking we knew better, and not wanting to eat quite so much, we decided to select our own combination from the menu. Watching the dishes go past our table, we realised this was undoubtedly a mistake!
For the non-fish eater, there are some limited options available including Sheftalia, Chicken, Souvlaki, Pork Chops and various omelettes. As a starter, there is a selection of the usual dips and salads for two, priced at a very reasonable €4.50 – all of a generous size and very fresh.
For our main course, we decided to share a plate of Swordfish and Calamari. The Swordfish had been cooked on charcoal and was served with onions and tomatoes. This dish did not disappoint; it was cooked to perfection, being both tender and moist. The Calamari was equally well cooked, being served with baby octopus, and all of it was light, fresh and delicate. We enjoyed these dishes with a generous portion of homemade chips and a village salad. Evidently, the potatoes for the chips come straight out of the field behind the kitchen.
A complimentary dessert comes at the end of the meal but changes regularly and includes local sweets and fruit options. It is the kind of location you genuinely don’t want to leave.
WHERE Filiotis by the Sea, Paphos Airport Road, Paphos
WHEN Tuesday to Sunday 11.30am-4.30pm. Saturday only 6.30-9.30pm
HOW MUCH Fish Meze €24 per person, main fish courses from €10
CONTACT 99 611697