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Restaurant review: Ethimo, Nicosia

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When it comes to a new restaurant, the anticipation and the expectations alone are worth at least half the experience. The more I wait to try a place out, the more it plays in my head. Will it be good? Is the hype justified? Will I manage to try as many things as possible from the menu?

Ethimo, one of the latest additions to the burgeoning scene in Nicosia, has been on my radar since it opened its doors a few months ago.

Located in a rather central, albeit surprisingly quiet part of the capital, near the Thoc Theatre, it’s been almost a mirage for me. Every time I called to make a reservation, I got the same answer: “I’m sorry, we are fully booked tonight.”

The time finally came and I found a table. And, I’m delighted to say it did not disappoint… not at all.

Accompanied by my faithful dining companion, I was determined to give Ethimo my very best try. Over ordering? Not in my book!

rest2We started with a Greek salad. Not your usual one, as this featured carob rusks, a nod to the Cretan dakos perhaps, wild capers, tomatoes and Kalathaki Limnou, a soft white cheese from Limnos. The tangy and slightly sour cheese perfectly complemented the tomatoes, some of which were savvily pureed on the bottom of the plate.

The calamari with fava bean dip and raw red onions starter was simple and to the point, but fava rarely needs extras, a reminder of how complete it is on its own.

The last starter we ordered, the chargrilled pita with Cretan graviera, aged feta cheese, thyme honey and raki, was the best. The two different types of cheese complemented each other, as the umami of the feta balanced the surprising tartness of the graviera. The honey drizzle and sesame seeds perfectly ‘closed’ the dish.

A well-deserved break preceded the mains, beef cheek pastisada and wild mushroom manestra.

The first featured hilopites, Greek pasta reminiscent of tagliatelle, with some of the most melt-in-mouth cuts of meat I have tried recently. However, what elevated the dish was the addition of spetsieriko, a spice mix from the island of Corfu made with cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, cloves and bay leaves.

The second consisted of orzo (ever so popular, I have noticed recently) with king oyster mushrooms and Greek truffle.

Both mains were hearty, filling and rich. Definitely wintery entries, as the menu changes each season, according to the available fresh ingredients. Also, I suspect no normal human being would be able to enjoy the mains I had in the sweltering summers of Nicosia.

Dessert was a shared portokalopita (orange pie) with mastic ice cream and orange sauce. Not too syrupy, which, in this case was a plus, as it felt lighter than the ones found everywhere in Cyprus.

Mention of honour for the cocktails, one gin-based and pleasantly herbal and the second rum-based with notes of orange. Spot on!

Leaving the restaurant, I couldn’t think of anything I didn’t love about it. Even hours later I can gladly say that Ethimo was very much worth the wait!

 

 

VITAL STATISTICS

SPECIALTY Modern Greek

WHERE Vasileos Pavlou 13, Nicosia 1096

WHEN Monday to Saturday 7-11.30pm, Sunday closed

CONTACT 22 494449

HOW MUCH Salads €13-16, starters €8-19, mains €17-34, desserts €8

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