After a short hiatus and a temporary love affair with brunch places – which might come back during Cyprus’ short but amazing spring – I returned to the island’s queen of dining establishments, the taverna!
I was determined to find one I had not visited before, but, to be frank, I have tried so many in the past couple of years it turned out to be quite a challenge.
Luckily, through word of mouth, which is undoubtedly the best way to find new places, I was able to find one and, for that matter, one with a solid reputation among the capital’s taverna aficionados.
Located in Strovolos, Stou Oresti does not immediately catch the eye from outside, but, then again, few similar places ever do, as they tend to focus more on the concrete side of things – i.e. your food – and less on appearances.
Accompanied by my faithful dining companion, we opted for the small meze, as opposed to the full one, to actually be able to enjoy our food and avoid feeling like inflated balloons at the end of the meal, a recurring feat after almost every visit to a tavern.
The first things to arrive were the bread and the dips. Nothing extraordinary, one might say. Well, not quite this time. The bread was fresh, warm and homemade, a pleasure to taste and a good indication of the restaurant’s attention to details.
The only extra dish I ordered that was not included in the meze was a saganaki made with graviera, a hard cheese with a subtle nutty flavour from Greece, accompanied by a wonderful strawberry marmalade, which perfectly balanced sweetness and sapidity.
We were also served a complimentary serving of snails, a nice touch and a further nod to the taverna’s attention to details.
Onto the meze selections with some of the usual suspects, such as pork and chicken souvlaki and sheftalies – juicy and compact, some of the best I have tried recently.
However, the top prize goes to the deep fried zucchini covered in beer batter, a rather unusual sight in a tavern, but a true revelation. Beer batter requires careful treading when used. Too little and the whole thing falls apart, defying the very definition of batter, whereas too much overpowers its content. Orestis’ was absolutely perfect.
The real life Orestis, the owner of the place and its chef, came to greet all patrons at some point, people he knew and people he did not. Although his ear for accents needs improving, as he thought I was from Thessaloniki, it was another nice touch and and appreciated gesture.
To finish it off, we were each served a complimentary piece of galatobureko, semolina custard baked in filo and covered in syrup.
All in all, Stou Oresti turned out to be a great experience, with the hidden gems such as the fried zucchini and the homemade bread taking centre stage rather than the meat. The setting could do with some zhuzhing up, but at least it’s spacious and comfortable.
Now I will be the one to recommend it to people looking for a good taverna and that always makes me happy!
SPECIALTY Cypriot, meze
WHERE Stou Oresti, Stavrou 111, Strovolos
WHEN Tuesday to Saturday 6pm-midnight, Sunday noon-4pm, Monday closed
CONTACT 22 420500
HOW MUCH Small meze €16, regular meze €19, starters from €2.50 to €10 main courses €9 to €12