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Restaurant review: Onar, Paphos

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When the team behind the very successful Oniro by the Sea decided to launch another restaurant, it would have been straightforward for them to repeat the same winning formula. However, with the opening of Onar in the heart of the old town of Paphos, this is not what they have done. Instead, they created a new restaurant with a different menu and vibe.

The building itself offers beautiful traditional architecture juxtaposed with a modern interior design. There is a large dining area inside and a limited number of tables on the narrow street outside, which are nicely set back from passing pedestrians.

The problem for those of us who rate Oniro is that you go to Onar with incredibly high expectations. The restaurant opened at the end of last year, with the menu offering modern interpretations of more unusual Cypriot and Greek dishes. If I had one criticism of Onar, it would be that the menu was written with few words, and unless you were an expert in Hellenic cuisine, you could miss out on some superb dishes through a lack of understanding.

rest 3The idea is to choose various dishes to share. The menu has many tempting and unusual options, including dips, salads, starter plates, sausages, meats, and a fresh fish fillet of the day. Vegetarians would undoubtedly be spoilt for choice and well-catered for.

Our meal started with a wooden box of two thick slabs of excellent bread flavoured with virgin oil and oregano, with olives on the side. The first selected dish, a generous portion of Cretan Skioufikta, followed the bread. The only words describing this on the menu are posirti, pecorino from Amphilochia and a poached egg. If you were unfamiliar with skioufikta, you could miss a wonderful pasta dish.

Everyone has meals throughout their life that they remember. For me, one such meal was in an Italian restaurant down a side street near the Duomo in Florence over 25 years ago – a superb bowl of pasta I have searched high and low forever since but never found. I have often thought of returning to try and find that simple Italian restaurant just for that dish. To my absolute surprise, this choice at Onar was so similar that I could not believe my luck. The Onar version had plentiful pieces of hand-turned pasta with delicious bacon and lots of pecorino, all topped off with a poached egg. This dish exemplifies the ethos of Onar through its use of quality ingredients and authentic recipes.

rest 2The food arrived from the kitchen in no particular order. Next to the table was the Charred Oyster Mushrooms with Metsovone cream, mushroom demi-glace, and cashews. Evidently, mushrooms are the new superfood we should all be eating more of, so this course felt somewhat healthy. My dining companion thought they were exceptional.

Our final “shared” choice was the Beef and Lamb Meatballs. These were beautifully presented with triangles of handmade pitta bread, yoghurt, horn pepper and pastirma harissa. Having finished the pasta, I was rather full but did try one of the meatballs. The whole combination worked very well, and the plate was full of Middle Eastern flavours.

rest 1Despite being rather full, we concluded the meal by sharing a Rum Baba, our choice from a selection of four desserts. It was the lightest of sponges filled with Chantilly cream steeped in rum syrup; lovely.

For the wine aficionado, they have created an extensive list of just Cypriot and Greek indigenous varieties, with some unusual ones available by the glass. I think I could not revisit Onar without ordering that pasta dish. It has only been 24 hours since my visit, and I am seriously considering going again very soon!

 

VITAL STATISTICS

SPECIALTY Cypriot and Greek

WHERE corner of Archbishop Makarios and Ayiou Kendeas, Old Town, Paphos

WHEN Open 1-11pm. Closed Mondays

CONTACT 26 322444 booking essential. For evening reservations, plan days in advance

HOW MUCH Sharing Plates from €7 to €35. Desserts from €7

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