Panteli Katellari 16A, 22665577, LEFKOSIA (NICOSIA)
Food: [rating:3.5] 3.5/5
Service: [rating:4.5] 4.5/5
Ambiance: [rating:3] 3/5
Upon moving back to Cyprus last year it only took me a few months to confirm what I had always known: despite being on a small island surrounded by water it is not as easy to get tasty and fresh seafood as one would think. Firstly the variety is not that big, but the main problem is the quality and then the price. This is probably what the owner of the new seafood restaurant, Mayiopoula, thought before coming up with the idea to open a high quality and up market place in the capital: he saw the gap in the market.
Following my lunch at Mayiopoula I found the perfect description for it: a high-class business restaurant for businessmen and politicians. This is where I would imagine the business tycoons of our country enjoying their dinner, followed by brandy and cigars.
When it first opened I was a bit baffled in terms of its ambiance and décor. Although I did get the all-white ambiance and the elegant vibe it wanted to create, I didn’t quite get the electric blue sign and the random blue décor features in the inside space. Nevertheless attention to detail in terms of smartness and elegance exists, i.e. the neat and tidy tables, the expensive plates and cutlery, the comfortable chairs and the friendly and formal staff.
Regarding the food, even though I was expecting over priced international and gourmet seafood selection I found a less overpriced-than-expected local restaurant. Some, might thing that serving “tahini” in such an up-market place would not be appropriate but I thought that why not let people enjoy our heritage in a different environment?
Apart from a selection of dips and starters including an excellent “tahini” and homemade “taramas”, there is a choice of salads. The “choriatiki” (traditional salad), that we ordered was made of fresh tomatoes and tasty vegetables, (though quantitywise I should note that we needed two for four people). The selection of main courses included the standard “calamari”, octopus and cuttlefish for 15-17€ per portion, small fried fish as well as two meat options for the meat lovers. Our octopus, although slightly different in texture and taste than what we usually have at a tavern, was very tender and soft with a more neutral to sour taste. I liked it. The rest of the table wasn’t sure what to think. The fried “marida” (whitebait) was fresh, crispy and flavoursome. The cuttlefish ink seafood risotto from the international main dish selection, despite having a weird colour and being blue/grey rather than having the deep blue/black colour that I expected, fairly tasty even though I preferred the grilled fish and the simpler dishes (not an opinion shared by the proud Cypriot brother who cleaned the risotto plate).
The steamed vegetables were the perfect side dish, to our grilled red porgy (“fagri”), that was served with the standard lemon and olive oil sauce. The fish was surprisingly fresh and tender.
Finally the baklava and yoghurt with Cyprus sweets that were offered to us at the end were a nice gesture. I would expect a bigger selection of desserts and sorbets for such a restaurant, but I heard that the desserts change regularly, which is positive.
I actually heard mixed comments regarding the food at Mayiopoulla, but I liked the fact that the food was fresh, tasty and had a simple and traditional touch. I would like to see, however, more pasta and cooked food dishes as I think we lack creative seafood dishes in Cyprus. If it did indeed offer a more creative seafood selection I would be happier to go there more often, despite the classic business-like environment look that the restaurant has. One thing is certain, the 35€ per person that we paid, in a group of four people with a bottle of wine was in my opinion fair, given that almost a year ago we paid 45€ per person to eat less food at “Kalamies” in Protaras without wine.