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Restaurant review: Old Town Restaurant, Polis
The Old Town Restaurant is one of those precious places that instil confidence the moment you walk through the door. A bit like meeting Mr Right, sometimes you just know. It’s the same with Old Town, especially after being seated within their beautiful ‘secret garden’ dining area - I defy anyone not to know within 30 seconds that they are indeed smitten.
It’s got to be one of the most romantic spots this side of the island with tables set under cooling trees, entirely enclosed with high banks of plants, and wafting through the warm night air there is the scent of mint, lavender, and oregano. It’s a truly discreet rendezvous (adulterers take note) and certainly not a place for people watching - here, you only have to concentrate on the companionship of friends (and lovers) and simultaneously get stuck in to what is a truly superb menu.
Here resides a genuine Mediterranean kitchen offering vibrant, elegant, richly inventive and wholly memorable Mediterranean food.
In a purer, gentler, world restaurants like Old Town would be deemed as a national treasure the same way important archaeological sites have been so listed. So what makes me want to get up on my soap box and make a rallying cry for this particular obscure little gem of an eatery? First, Vangelis the chef and owner wins gold by following the most opaque of formulae: he takes local ingredients of top quality, cooks them simply and accurately and serves them (via exceedingly friendly professional waiters) without a trace of poncery.
The result is a dazzling mosaic of a meal enlivened with a Mediterranean touch that is perfectly judged every time.
First up were selections of home-made dips with a sharp green salad, petite rosettes of tomato filled with anchovies, followed by a delicate melt in the mouth Carpaccio of fish with raspberry vinaigrette. The perfectly cooked marinated octopus with olive oil and oregano became the star of the show until it was instantly replaced by the taste delight offered by gentle yet succulent lobster pasta. This is a dish which invariably comes with rubber lobster so overcooked it could be tied with strong string and used as a yo yo. Here, there had been no such culinary abuse only a very happy marriage.
Other options included partridge ravioli, or proper crispy duck spring rolls with honey and chilli, we could also have been seriously tempted by the Greek lamb kleftico before feasting on proper moussaka or one of the house specialities wild roasted duck cooked in Commandaria. The man behind the stove is obviously a dedicated fan of duck but he can also lay claim to his consummate ability to stuff a chicken breast with sundried tomatoes and haloumi or to offer a marinated pork dish dripping with honey and flashed with chopped chillies.
But, that evening we were all on a serious piscatorial mission and continued on to clean plates that had once offered wood grilled Sea bass with a lemon butter sauce, not forgetting the grilled prawns marinated with lemon grass olive oil and with just the right splash of lime.
Carnivores can with confidence sink teeth into Vangelis’ wood grilled rib eye steak, which at 22 uuros a pop isn’t that bad considering the prime quality of the raw ingredients. It’s also nice to see rabbit stifado on the menu - here it’s cooked with wild mushrooms and juniper berries and even on a warm summer evening the kitchen was turning out several plates of this home cooked speciality.
There is also a ‘gourmet mezze’ on offer for folk who wish to sample most of the menu in miniature and although the prices aren’t exactly on a par with a standard mezze house the superior quality and cooking you get here makes Old Town quite rightly an upmarket eatery, and you can dine here on a meal memorable for all the right reasons for under 25 euro.
For pudding, don’t mess around, just go straight for the cake of the day either honey or homemade almond, after all, one might just need an instant sugar rush if travelling back to Paphos. The next morning a neighbour asked why I would drive all that way just to have supper ( he by the way eats only frozen chips). My response: ‘If I was a few decades younger and bereft of transport, I’d jog the 29.3 kilometres to Polis just to relish this man’s cooking’.
SPECIALITY High end Mediterranean cuisine
WHERE Old Town Restaurant, Polis
CONTACT 26 322758, 99 632781
PRICE from 20euros up