Vasilissis Amalias 17, 22776246, LEFKOSIA (NICOSIA)
Food: [rating:3.5] 3.5/5
Service: [rating:2.5] 2.5/5
Ambiance: [rating:2] 2/5
There is nothing new or surprising that can be said about the Syrian Friendship club because I, like most of the people reading this, have been at least once over the past 20 (or so) years that it has been in operation. Food? Great! Ambiance? Not so much. Recommended? Definitely.
In addition to the fact that it has been open since forever, it also doesn’t have a lot of competitors, which makes it a very popular place. It is one of those consistent places that you know what you will get. The food is, and has always been very good at relatively fair prices. The ambiance is, and has always been average despite the renovation efforts. It is a bit kitsch but the large outside space that is surrounded by plants and trees is quite pleasant. It is likely that it will be buzzing with people however, almost any day of the week.
We always go for the “meze”. Now that I come to think of it, I have never even seen the menu. It is quite rich and includes all the standard Syrian and Lebanese dishes. You can choose a couple of extras to try something new. My advice is to order the main selection and build on that.
The dips that come first are a good change to the Cypriot taverna dips. Apart from the traditional hummus, the garlic dip (one of my guilty pleasures) is tasty (and quite strong) while the “mutabal” (eggplant dip), is equally good with a strong garlic and eggplant flavour. The “muhamara” (walnut and chilli) dip is a bit more spicy and a good addition to the home-made dip selection. The traditional “tabouleh” and “fatoush” salads, both with a strong “lemon-y” taste are always up to standards with fresh greens and a spicy lemon and onion taste. The main meat selection is quite generous with the spicy lamb kofta (my personal favourite), the marinated chicken kebab and the lamb kebab. Don’t forget to eat the pita bread on which the meat sits on. it absorbs all the meat juice and spices it making the pitta one of the best “meze” one can have at the Syrian Friendship club.
Finally the light Lebanese “mahalepi” with rose water and pistachios that is served at the end of the meal is a nice way to end a complete and not-so-heavy-as-you-would-expect meal.
I used to think this type of food was heavy but since I returned to Cyprus 3 years ago I discovered that it is not as spicy or as difficult to digest. On the contrary, I find it quite easy-going since it is very close to our cuisine. The fact that it comes with a “light” bill of less than 20€ per person makes it a no-brainer for a casual evening out.