Always on the lookout for a new dining experience, I was pleased to see somewhere new on the scene whilst going for a stroll one day through town. There was a rooftop restaurant that I had frequently spoken about going to but by the time I got round to it, it had closed down! However, it didn’t take long for something to take its place and take advantage of its prime location.
Nestled in the heart of Larnaca, the newly opened Watar Ziryab offers a promising combination of a prime location overlooking St Lazarus church and square, tantalising dips and grilled meat. While the restaurant shows potential, my recent visit was marred by subpar service that significantly impacted the overall dining experience.
Venturing up the stairs heading to the restaurant, I was keen to see the view from the balcony as the sun was setting and I was lucky enough to enjoy the beautiful colours in the sky as the sun slowly set behind the church.
We were shown to our seats and brought the menu by a waiter who didn’t look too happy. Perhaps he’d had a long day? I thought that the restaurant is a brilliant place for people seeking a picturesque backdrop while enjoying a meal. However, from looking around, I didn’t really get the feeling from the decor that I was in a Jordanian restaurant. The new and modern seating didn’t really fit in with the theme of a typical Arabic restaurant. There was a small corner with garish and uncomfortable looking furniture and traditional cloths that I think was supposed to be a shisha lounge. That seemed like the only real attempt.
Looking through the menu, I noticed that there were also a few bizarre options. For instance you can order an English breakfast, beef burgers, tuna sandwich, chicken schnitzel or beef teriyaki! I’ve never seen these at an Arabic restaurant before. We thought about taking the easy choice and just ordering a meze for two but after joking that we’d prefer to not have chipolatas, we decided against.
We went for some of our favourite dips choosing hummus, muhamara and moutabal. We thought about adding another, but the dips seemed very expensive. We added Kubbeh (similar to koupes but with lamb and pine nuts), spicy potatoes in a red chilli paste and falafel. I had hoped to be able to order one of my favourites, farrouj meshwi (char grilled boneless chicken thighs) but they were not on the menu! We instead settled for Shish Tawouk. The lamb cutlets caught my eye and although we had already ordered enough food, I couldn’t help but add them to the order!
We were hungry and excited about trying somewhere new but our excitement waned as we waited and waited just for the dips to come out! When they finally came, the dips were good. We wrongly assumed that the rest of the food would follow shortly, but alas, we were wrong. Again, we endured a long wait for some of the other bits and pieces. The kibbeh came and despite them being seasoned well and quite tasty, they weren’t really hot, more lukewarm. Similar story with the falafel. They were firm and dense but well-seasoned. I had hoped for the spicy potatoes to have a crunchy exterior but unfortunately, they didn’t.
The Tawouk were well-seasoned and nicely charred. The lamb chops were juicy and succulent. Both these dishes were served with a side of fries which, disappointingly, had frozen chips out of a bag.
Unfortunately, the otherwise, mostly enjoyable experience was overshadowed by the glaring issue of poor service. The staff seemed disorganised, inattentive, and slow to respond to customer needs. Several requests for water and additional condiments went unaddressed, leaving us feeling neglected.
While Watar Ziryab offers a promising setting with a breathtaking view and flavoursome dishes, the subpar service significantly hampers the overall experience. Additionally, the prices were a little on the dear side. If the restaurant can address the issues with service and streamline its operations, it has the potential to become a sought-after destination in Larnaca. Until then, diners may want to temper their expectations.
WHERE: Mehmet Ali 5 Pavlos Valsamakis, Larnaca 6026
WHEN: Monday-Sunday 10:00am – 12:00am
CONTACT: 96 663555
HOW MUCH: Approx €30 per person.