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- Cyprus : Tax revenues fall 10 per cent in first quarter
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Restaurant Review: No Reservations, Nicosia
Nothing in your dining experience in Nicosia will prepare you for No Reservations. We arrive at 8pm on a Tuesday to an empty restaurant and choose to sit outside under an awning surrounded by pots of herbs - the premises are on the corner opposite the Cyprus Museum of Contemporary Art in Stassinou Street. There is a pleasant breeze and a surprising lack of noise, considering the location. Madam of the house, Monica, approaches with the menu and reveals the mysteries of dining at her restaurant and I quote, ‘From our menu, that changes every 15 days to keep up with what we find fresh and in season, you can make a selection of five courses for €20, 12 courses for €30 or the full menu for €35’. Sounds interesting.
The establishment has been open for five months and is the best kept dining experience in the city: ‘knowing friends’ have urged me to try it but I may have linked it with Anthony Bourdain and the big overcoat brigade - couldn’t have been more wrong - mea culpa.
On arrival the turntable is playing a modern balladeer singing Francis Albert at an unthreatening level and the eye is caught by the original designs on the tables and walls; the wine menu cover is good enough to be framed - but I wander, it’s the food that requires attention.
The companion selects the five courses and in the interest of the readership I choose the 12 without knowing if I will finish it - when was the last time you volunteered to eat more than ten items from the card? Wine by the glass and a bottle of Pellegrino arrives at the same time as a basket containing five different types of hot bread, all made on the premises. Our first dishes are served on plain white porcelain and consist of a Parmesan basket containing smoked peppers, figs in a balsamic reduction for the companion and a vegetable terrine with cheese mousse and basil oil for me. The sight of these two perfect dishes marooned on the platter immediately transported us to Cluny in the seventies when we stayed at a hotel in the heart of ‘La Chasse’ and experienced the best of nouvelle cuisine.
The charming Monica conducts us through each successive plate which I guarantee cannot be encountered anywhere else on the island - when did you last consume courgette flower filled with aubergine and cream cheese with pesto trapanese? Followed by seared tuna with game chips, avocado, salmon eggs and chilly compote; Shrimp croquette; Black ink tortellone filled with white fish and bagna cauda; and how about this: foie gras terrine with pan brioche, pickled cherry and red wine reduction?
There are others in between, but my final platter contains a cylinder of kleftico, a tiny quiche and a wrapped pork fillet with a forced-meat ravioli in butter, and a ‘mouse-tail’ (deep fried sage leaf). Each dish is served on fresh platter - how does the kitchen cope?
The sweets are as good as the savouries and range from Profiterole with Chantilly cream, through ice cream with pineapple poached in white wine and coriander sauce to creme brulee.
The companion claimed it was one of her best dining evenings ever and we will definitely take on the full menu next time. The dishes are small, perfect and delightfully balanced; the chef Martino, is Italian, and the husband of Monica; between them they have achieved something remarkable: a restaurant that pleases in every aspect: service, ambience, outstanding food and good value. I have a feeling it will be a little too esoteric for the ultra cool urbanites which means more room for the serious diners.
May the gods have No Reservations.
SPECIALTY Outstanding food
WHERE: 16, Stassinou Avenue, Nicosia
CONTACT 22 376584, 99 408022
BOOKINGS Definitely. Dinners only, closed Sunday
PRICE Great value