“ Address: 4 Dionysou Street / Kato / Paphos „
~~LIKE TWO LOST SHEEP WE STUMBLED UPON THE MANDRA~~
One evening towards the end of our last holiday in Cyprus myself and my husband had been doing a little evening shopping around the harbour area of Paphos. We had intended to return to our hotel well in time for dinner but must have taken longer than we intended as my husband, looking at the time on his mobile phone, commented that it was going to be touch and go whether we would make it back to our hotel before the restaurant had closed for the evening, and so we needed to find a taxi very quickly. The journey from the harbour to our hotel was one of only about ten minutes in duration. We have been to Paphos and walked around the harbour many times and thought we knew our way around well but on this occasion we were both very hot and weary. We felt that it was too far to walk back to the taxi rank which is situated near to the bus depot by the harbour, and we both thought we knew where to find taxis in the side streets, but alas, we were mistaken and got a bit lost. We did know which direction to go in but couldn't find the actual street where we knew we could find a taxi. By now my husband, after again looking his mobile phone and tut-tutting, said we would now definitely be too late for dinner at our hotel and so we should perhaps look for somewhere to eat around this area. Well, I told him that by now I was desperate for the loo and so we needed to find somewhere quickly. There were a couple of pubs close by but they were on more than one level and by this time I was desperate to powder my nose and certainly didn't want to trek up flights of stairs to get to a loo. We spotted a restaurant that looked very interesting and what was even more appealing to me by now was the fact that it was on the ground level and therefore looked the easiest choice which was just what these two weary travellers needed.
It was nice to come across somewhere we hadn't tried before and so we walked over to the entrance. In truth neither of us was exactly starving but we were peckish; as it was a long while since lunch we knew we would be hungry later if we didn't have something to eat while we were out. I think it was the manager who greeted us and, as the restaurant wasn't full, he asked us where we wanted to sit. I was tempted to say the loo would be nice but resisted and instead asked for somewhere cool, in the true sense of the word. We were shown to a table which benefited from the cool air blown from a ceiling fan. This table was also near to the indoor pond type feature (equipped with fish and a wishing well type feature) which helped to make us feel refreshed.
Now before I go further with this review I must tell you about the ambience of this restaurant as I think this is its main selling point. It really does look authentic and has the character and a real authentic Greek-Cypriot feel.
The floor is of flagged stone and feels a bit uneven in places but this is all part of the character of the place; it looks good and feels cool.
The exterior walls are of stone and so is much of the roof. The natural authentic Cypriot look is achieved with the use of old looking woods blending with stone and greenery, mainly in the form of palm trees. This restaurant feels open and much of it is, having only a low wall to the frontage. When gazing inside from the road outside of an evening it looks bright and welcoming.
We both felt that this restaurant was a delight in terms of its character and was worth visiting for this alone.
~~A FEW FACTS~~
"Established in 1979, MANDRA TAVERN is one of the oldest and best traditional taverns in Kato Paphos.
The name "Mandra" is the Greek word for a livestock enclosure.
A "Mandra" built with natural stone was used to protect livestock from weather conditions, to store dairy products and sometimes for the shepherds to sleep in.
This tavern used to be one such place. Its basic character has been retained. Only a few additions and alterations have been made and this only so that guests enjoy their traditionally prepared meals in a comfortable and pleasant environment."
There were plenty of these and some good and varied choices. I always think dips make nice starters and these were in evidence as well as Cypriot cheeses, grilled meats, Dolmades, salads, garlic mushrooms, soups and even more...
We shared some olives in a garlic dressing and this was very tasty indeed.
The menu here is certainly extensive and interesting and I think it was a shame that we were too weary to do it justice. As neither of us was very hungry I'm afraid we were rather boring and both ordered a main course of moussaka, only my husband had meat moussaka and I chose the vegetarian version. Both were served with a side salad. Mine cost Euro14.00 and my husbands was Euro15.50. My husband had ordered some local bread with his meal.
We both thought that our meals were of a very good quality and tasted nice yet we both felt that we were too quick to choose and perhaps didn't make the best choice. My husband said that the meat was tender and the topping of his moussaka was nice.
My moussaka was also of a good quality and was nicely cooked and it contained tasty vegetables inside it that I enjoy such as aubergine and marrow and finally it was topped with a béchamel sauce. I did enjoy this meal and found it quite filling. I do think that had we not been so hut and weary then we would both have taken more time to peruse the menu and then there were probably better choices to be had and I believe I may well have preferred certain dishes.
If we go back to this restaurant then I would be more adventurous and make sure that I had a larger appetite on my visit. Perhaps I will try the specialities (of the non-meat choices though!) of The Mandra which are said to be, "Meze and Fish Meze, as well as the Sizzling Steaks and Spare Ribs." The Meze is a five course meal for two or more diners.
But I will admit that I was a bit worried when seeing on the menu that whole baby piglets are a culinary choice available for two people. As a pescetarian I know if someone seated at a nearby table had a complete piglet to pick apart I could not stay without being ill. Fortunately at the time when we were dining at the Mandra the restaurant was fairly quiet and diners seemed to be either finishing their meals or from what I could see were being served with the more usual type of meal, or at least normal to me.
The Mandra is known for its local dishes and the aromas coming from the kitchen were really rather enticing and seemed to be mainly of grilled steaks and fish and a little more than just a hint of garlic.
Sirloin steak could be ordered for Euro18.00 with a choice of sauces (Creamy Pepper, Creamy Mushroom, Red Wine & Mushroom, garlic, Rossini) for Euro2.50.
The usual Greek/Cypriot fare was available such as: Stifado (fried meat balls), Afelia (Cubes of beef with onions, cooked in red wine and herbs, Dolmades, Souvlakia (Small pieces of pork cooked on skewers), Ortykia (Grilled quails), as well as steaks, chicken dishes, pork chops.
There were plenty of fish choices such as: prawns, swordfish, calamari, salmon, scampi and sea bream.
Vegetarian choices at The Mandra were: cold and hot platters, moussaka, Vegetarian pitta filled with various mixes of vegetable such as of potato, aubergine, marrows etc., and Portobello mushrooms served with olive oil and lemon dressing.
I don't often partake of desserts as have more of a savoury tooth and also find that after one course I usually feel that I have eaten enough and prefer not to over eat and then be uncomfortable for the rest of the evening. In fact I don't really eat too much anyway in hot climates and find I can struggle to finish a course more often than I would in England but there's no harm in this I'm sure. My husband is the same and if we do have more than one course then we are more likely to choose a starter and a main course rather than a main and dessert. But if you do have a sweet tooth here is an idea of what is on offer:
Cheesecake, Apple pie served with cream or ice cream, lemon sorbet, Baklava and cream, yoghurt and honey. Desserts range in price from Euro 4.70 to Euro 5.55.
We both were very parched and so decided to quench our thirst with long cold drinks. My husband chose a local beer (Keo) and I chose a Keo with lemonade (shandy to the British). Actually I was understood here and was served with one glass of beer mixed with lemonade rather than (as often happens abroad) a glass of beer and another of lemonade.
A varied selection of wines could be seen on the wine list such as Mandra house red or white by the bottle (Euro17.00), and local wines by the glass, carafe, half carafe (Euro7.00), along with rosé, Retsina, Chardonnay, and more.
Both local and international beers and spirits are available. Internationa bottled beers include
Carlsberg, Budweiser, Heineken, Corona and Boddingtons. Some might be pleased to partake of ciders including Woodpecker, Strongbow and Millers.
Local and international brands of spirits are to be found in the Mandra's bar.
We didn't have coffee as although we had cooled down somewhat it was still a very hot night and too hot for us to feel like drinking coffee. We decided to forego the coffee or tea and instead get back to our hotel where we could enjoy a drink or two sitting outside on the terrace and follow this with a bedtime drink of hot chocolate. But for coffee lovers I thought that the Mandra Tavern serves a good variety. There is Cappuccino, Espresso, Irish coffee, Russian coffee, and many more variations of course also including Cypriot coffee, and good old Nescafé, as well as tea.
The service was good and I almost always find this is the case in Cyprus restaurants and bars. After being shown to our table we were quickly supplied with menus and asked would we like a drink while we looked at the menu? We certainly needed a drink by this time and so ordered our drinks without really needing the menu. Drinks were quickly brought to our table and were soon ready to order our meals.
The food came in a good time and I would say that we were served in about thirty minutes or perhaps even a little less. I do know that the timing was perfect as we had time to have a drink and admire our pleasant surroundings.
We spoke to the manager and were surprised that he knew the area of London where my husband had grown up and sampled his first Greek meal. The manager had run a restaurant in this area but had decided some years ago to return to his native Cyprus to run his own restaurant on this island.
The Ladies were my first port of call so to speak and I found these to be clean and decent. My husband said the same was true of the Gents. Toilets can sometimes be a downside of some Cypriot bars and restaurants but I thought that the Mandra Tavern did quite well in this respect.
I really cannot remember if the toilets here were disabled friendly or not so would advise first contacting the Mandra before visiting. The restaurant is on ground level but has slightly different heights for seating areas. The entrance at the front of the Mandra is level and I would say fairly easy to access. The floor is uneven in places due to it being of stone but I would think it is manageable with some care.
We both loved the surroundings here and we agreed it had been worth choosing to dine at this restaurant for its character alone. I am off to Cyprus again very soon and would like to return to the Mandra but as I have already mentioned I could find it an ordeal if complete piglets are brought out on steaming platters. I suppose the meat menu at this tavern is very appealing to conscience-free carnivores but for squeamish me this could well prove to be its downside.
I thought the tables were comfortable with enough room between diners to make the experience pleasant, although the restaurant was not full when we dined here so there was a good feeling of space and privacy. The table linen, cutlery and tableware all looked very clean and inviting.
I believe most diners would appreciate the Mandra Tavern very much and would enjoy dining here.
By the time we left this restaurant we had got our bearings and realised that we only had to walk a short distance to come across waiting taxis. We could have asked the staff to call us a taxi but decided that we would rather walk the few paces to procure our own.
Address: Mandra Tavern
4, Dionysou Street
Telephone: +357 26 934129
Monday - Sunday 17:30 - 23:00
Friday hours 18:00-23:00