Griva Digeni 42-44, 22680400, LEFKOSIA (NICOSIA)
Out of the quite-a-few good surprises this year I think this is the biggest one. It’s not a hidden gem as it is situated on the busiest street of the capital and it’s not that it looks bad and tastes good (because it actually looks fantastic and tastes fantastic). It is the fact that, although I thought it would have been something more common and “commercial” it is so… not!
The “concept store” idea I have seen before in Milan and in London. Although I was a bit cautious when I saw this concept transported to Cyprus, but my worries and fears were very early on, reassured. Elma & Fred is indeed a concept store, a place where you can products that appeal to a general lifestyle rather than one shopping category. At Elma & Fred one can find stylish clothes for both men and women- not only known brands but young designers as well. Right next to that one can buy carefully selected Italian, gourmet food products such as handpicked biscuits, aged balsamic vinegar, excellent quality tea and teapots as well as delicious Italian nibbles. The beautiful and stylish kitchenware fit perfectly to the modern and minimalistic style of the store.
Right after the food section one arrives at the café, a Lamborghini café, restaurant and all-day bar. The décor, consistent across Elma & Fred is elegant, modern and minimalistic with the colour black and dark wood prevailing. The quality and attention that was paid in its creation is obvious from the very moment you enter the space. I loved how they separated the area with the high tables, which can be used for a glass of wine, a special event or even for a casual coffee. On the other side there is an area with low tables and sofas.
I also liked the small bar and the coffee room inside with merely a handful of tables on the left of the side entrance. Every single detail spells out “class.I visited it to do what I do best: have lunch. I was tipped-off on how good it is but I had to try it for myself. The menu is small but has enough food to make you want to over-order. I found the food to be very appropriate and suitable for the situation. The first part of the menu has a few salads and light dishes. The grilled salmon fillet with aromatic lentils, green salad and peanut butter sauce was something more than delicious. I appreciated the fact that the sauce was on the side rather than being served a salmon that “swims” in creamy sauces. The lentils, being flavoursome and at the same time healthy were a great side dish. The mushroom salad with Portobello mushrooms covered in manchego cheese and served with dry mulberries was also fantastic, a great starter option. Thinking back it doesn’t sound that special but what made it really good was the high quality ingredients and a great combination of flavours.I remember when I was in Milan I was obsessed with piadinas, i.e. flat bread (that looks like a thin pita) “sandwich”, so I had to try one. I wanted t have the prosciutto and smoked mozzarella piadina but the proud Cypriot mother insisted I try the Vegetarian one. Thank god for the proud Cypriot mother! It had a layer of lightly sweet sesame paste, fresh grilled artichokes, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes was absolutely delicious. Finally the smoked chicken club sandwich with brown bread with fontina cheese and coppa di Parma salami was equally good. The honey aioli was very light and the overall flavour was mildy savoury. There is also a small brunch section with porridge, yogurt granola a few healthy tarts and a bakers basket that is great for a light breakfast.
After a shockingly tasty lunch we had to have dessert since we were told that the desserts were actually what they get the best comments for! The home-made Tiramisu with Antonio Mattei dark chocolate cantuccini was truly fantastic, beautifully served in a short glass. That alone is a reason to go back. Just when I thought I had the cherry on the cake, I tried the home-made ginger cheesecake with orange zest. The only thing I can say is try both for yourself!8-9€ for piadinas, 7-8.50€ for the sandwiches and 12-14€ for the larger courses was good value-for-money and who ever disagrees does not know what value-for-money is!