Menandros 3, 22270045, LEFKOSIA (NICOSIA)
Food: [rating:4] 4/5
Service: [rating:4] 4/5
Ambiance: [rating:4] 4/5
When they ask me what I think is missing from the restaurant scene of Cyprus I never thought of oyster bars. I am, however, extremely happy that the first proper oyster bar has arrived to our little island. I was even more happy to see that it was done properly, carefully and offering exactly what an oyster bar should offer: delicious seafood nibbles, wine, champagne and cocktails.
I am extremely excited about this place because it has all the things that I love. Firstly it’s small fitting merely 40 people inside and out. It is elegantly decorated creating a very refined ambiance. The small street it’s situated on (right next to it’s big sister, Pyxida), is the best location since it’s central but quiet. I loved the dim blue lighting and I also thought the high tables were appropriate as it is an oyster “BAR”. Finally I am a huge fan of seafood, admittedly more than I am meat fan, especially when it comes to raw seafood.
It won’ take me long to describe the menu since it offers only one thing: seafood in all its forms: carpaccio, tartar, in a salad, smoked, or cooked in a pot. The best thing about it is that the seafood dishes don’t “hide” behind pasta, rice and vegetables but are the main attraction of the show. It is needless to say that you don’t go there if you are starving and want to fill yourself up, but you go there to enjoy drinks over seafood delicacies. Also needless to say we did the exactly opposite since we (almost) ordered the entire menu.
The olives with octopus and prawns in vinegar that came with our bread to start off I thought was a good idea (as free stuff always is!). The seafood salad with shrimps, octopus and mussels was served with a mustard dressing (15€) and was very light and refreshing without too much dressing. The oysters came right after. I have always loved oysters but the fact that I have been pregnant twice in 1.5 years made me miss them even more. We got a dozine for 4 people, a selection of 3 different types: Krystale, Gillardeau and the Russian, Tsarskaya. I personally liked the Tsarksaya ones (note that I am no oyster expert and could only taste the difference because we compared them there and then). If you are a fan of oysters do try them, you won’t find anything better around. I was very sorry to see the four Beluga Vodka shots that came in the oyster platter to go to waste but that’s what happens if you put together a woman who is breastfeeding, Mr Proud Cypriot who doesn’t drink vodka, a hangover person and a fourth one who wouldn’t drink by herself! The salmon tartar (20€) was delicious with a mild lemony flavour. I preferred the tuna tartar (20€) that was absolutely delicious: fresh with a great combination of tuna and avocado. The scallop carpaccio (20€), a must-try dish since it’s not something we find often was equally mouth-watering with a slightly bitter and lemony flavour, also a great change to the salmon, tuna or sea bass carpaccio we usually have. The langoustine and prawn dish, served with a mildly savoury sauce that in a way enhanced the flavour of the shellfish was a good dish for something cooked, while the cold seafood risotto (14€) (and the only risotto dish on the menu) was deliciously refreshing. Don’t expect to get main course sizes, but small starter portions, it is after all an Oyster Bar. Finally the mussels in a pot were my least favourite dish since I didn’t particularly liked the ginger sauce, which tasted like curry, they were served in. I would have liked them better with fresh cream and garlic, but the lobster with caramelized butter was definitely my favourite out of the hot dishes. Although I expected it to be sweet it wasn’t, but had a balanced buttery flavour.The lobster was the end of our meal (together with two bottles of white wine). We didn’t have any smoked fish or caviar but we have left it for next time.
The only thing I didn’t like was the choice of desserts. In no way did it make me think less of our fantastic meal but I would have preferred to have something that was more suited to an oyster bar. The cake platter (a carrot cake, red velvet cake, cheese cake and chocolate sponge cake- all from Debbie’s Cookies), I thought were a selection more suited to an American restaurant. I would have preferred something more light and refreshing (and this is the reason why it doesn’t get 4.5/5 for food!)
The price came to, ahem ahem…360€ for four people. I expected nothing less since four of us managed to more-than-satisfy our big appetites with seafood, shellfish and oysters! It might seem that you need a small loan to dine there, but don’t be put off by it. You can enjoy a meal with much less than 8 dishes and 12 oysters.
Menandros 3, 22270045, LEFKOSIA (NICOSIA)