Tembon 3, 22432559, LEFKOSIA (NICOSIA)
Food: [rating:3] 3/5
Service: [rating:3.5] 3.5/5
Ambiance: [rating:4] 4/5
If I had to choose the most understated and undervalued place in Nicosia there is no doubt in my mind that I would pick The Old Powerhouse (Palia Ilektriki). This wonderful space with a beautiful courtyard right by this renovated old building is often neglected. I am not entirely sure why but in my case I probably had it at the back of my mind as an events only space. What I have only found out recently is that not only has it been renovated, but it also operates as a bar/restaurant with a simple but easy to eat food, good local wine and very good prices.
It is located, for those who don’t know (although I would believe there are very few of you), towards the buffer zone inside the old city of Nicosia in one of the prettiest buildings of the area. The sign of the Old Powerhouse alone brings you back to a different era. The trip continues once you enter through the tall metal gates, only to see a small and cute garden reminding the cafe of a small gallery, opening up in front of you. On your left you can see the main building, or rather an open-plan space surrounded by windows where the bar is situated. The dark wood, in combination with the green tiles and the black aluminium structure that surrounds the space I think fits perfectly with the retro vibe of The Old Powerhouse. Even though the internal courtyard is clearly a winner in terms of where to enjoy your drink or meal, I have been inside during the winter and it is indeed more cosy than what I would have expected and reminds me of an old theatre foyer.
I often say that pretty restaurants that don’t know how to make something different and special should stick to the simple dishes so that at least it doesn’t stop us from going. This is exactly what the Old Powerhouse has done. The menu includes 5 salads and a soup, a list of starters, platters to share as well as a few international main courses like lamb chops, a burger, chicken with mango and a couple of simple pasta dishes. Innovation and creativity are not its strong points (without that being a bad thing as I found this particular menu easy to satisfy any type of preference. My first choice had ran out (the burger which from what I remember from the tasting I was invited to a few months ago, was quite good), so we opted for 4 small dishes between two people. The goats cheese salad with caramelised walnuts (ordered without the strawberries – enough with the fruit already), was in fact well portioned and quite tasty. The sweet and sour dressing was light and not too overwhelming, while the ingredient proportion was just right. The crostini, which were toasted bread with small tomatoes and prosciutto at 3.50€ were fairly good but I did not like the balsamic glaze that topped it, an ingredient which I hate in all types of food and in my opinion should be banned! The honey glazed halloumi with sesame and dried figs, a dish I had my doubts about, was surprisingly tasty, being quite soft, mildly sweet and not at all chewy, while the dish that was in fact average was the Caprese salad. Even though the sliced tomato and Cypriot rocket were very fresh, the mozzarella had a funny look being a bit dry and served warmer than room temperature. What was extremely kind of them was the fact that, not only did the waiter apologise repeatedly when we pointed this out, but also we weren’t charged for it, a very kind gesture.
fact, I found the 25€ bill for three starters, a glass of white wine, a medium sized bottle of Evian and a gin and to be cheap for our small meal. Looking at the prices on the main dishes, as their price varies from 10€ to 22€, had we ordered a main dish our bill price would have gone up significantly.
All in all, I am happy to say that I would return, even if it is just for a glass of wine with a cheese platter. I do prefer the fact that they neither try to be, nor they think they are a culinary heaven, something that unfortunately (and wrongly), happens often in our small island. On the contrary, I appreciated the fact that they built a value for money menu with simple and tasty dishes.
Tembon 3, 22432559, LEFKOSIA (NICOSIA)