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Cyprus Internet Directory [ RESTAURANT REVIEW by Matthew Stowell ]

RESTAURANT REVIEW by Matthew Stowell

Simple food, dazzling view

St. George Alamanou Fish Restaurant

Once again there is harmony in the universe. Christofias is canoodling with Talat to solve the Cyprus problem and the restaurant at St. George Alamanou has re-opened after its annual winter sabbatical. Situated on the picturesque limestone-edged Limassol coast, this ocean liner of a fish taverna (it can seat 820 people) is one of my favourite dining destinations. It is also one of the island’s worst-kept secrets, patronised mostly by locals who might tell their English-speaking friends about it if only they could easily explain how to get there. But it’s not that difficult. From Limassol, drive east for about ten minutes and exit at Pendakomo/St. George. On that small road you go straight, flying right past the turnoff for Pendakomo, and continue until you can just see the gate for the Agios Giorgios monastery. Take the small road to the left and keep on until you can’t go any further without flippers and a mask.

I have dined at St. George when I was the sole customer and I have been squeezed in when it was humming at full capacity, and although the experiences are quite different, I relish it every time. It’s a place to which you can escape to nurse your wounds or contemplate the cosmos, to raucously celebrate a family event or book a company outing; and it’s a place you show off to visiting friends. Many television commercials have been shot on the adjacent whitewashed rocks so there’s a good chance you have seen the place before and hankered to visit, not realising there was also a restaurant there.

One day last June I had a most memorable experience dining solo at St. George. I arrived precisely at noon on a Saturday. There were only four other customers and I took time choosing the most advantageous seat with the best angle of seascape. The temperature was set to rise above 35 so I ordered a bottle of cold white Reisling for my salad with feta, fried calamari and red mullet. As I waited for the salad I savoured a bit of tarama and gazed out at the diamond-studded aqua not twenty feet in front of me. The sun’s brightness, coming from straight above, was so intense the two fishermen poised atop the blinding white limestone jetties that sloped out from the cliffs appeared as silhouettes, their elegant long poles arcing idly over the sea in a shimmering mirage of tranquility. It seemed a romantic image from some black-and-white film of the 1950s.

The wine and salad arrived, each also uniquely illuminated by the sparkling sunlight, and I ate and drank with the rare sensation that I was in the right place at precisely the right time. The salad, the calamari, the mullet, everything was immensely pleasing though prepared in the simplest way possible. In fact, nothing is fancy at St. George, nothing is the product of some new multi-cultural fusion technique. It’s just good, honest cooking using the freshest ingredients. The same simplicity is echoed in the no-frills nautical d?cor.

The proprietor family, refugees from occupied Lefkoniko, were originally provided with the land for farming in 1978. Gradually, they began to barbecue fish and meats for friends who sat at a single table set up on a grassy rise above the beach. Soon there were more tables and a kitchen, and the farming became secondary. Now they can handle several coach-loads of tourists and two or three marching bands, but - probably because it has always been a family business (brothers, wives, grandmothers) - the quality hasn’t diminished. When I ate there last Sunday, soon after they had ended their recess for winter solstice, and amid more than 800 people, the calamari tasted just as good as the day I dined alone. And the waiting staff, harried to almost comic proportions, were just as quick and efficient. I’ve waited longer for my food at a Burger King.

St. George is open seven days a week, serving from eight in the morning until 10:30 at night, locking up finally around midnight. If you do go on a Sunday afternoon and the weather is fine, there might be seven to eight hundred customers, but if you prefer a quieter dining sojourn go early on a Saturday or any weekday and enjoy not only the restaurant but the idyllic environment as well. You can amble out onto the aforementioned ledges of whitewashed lime, help the children collect smooth stones and pebbles from the beach or take a long invigorating hike in either direction along the dazzling albino coast. A pleasant way to build your appetite for that wonderful fish meze.

WHERE Agios Giorgios Alamanou (St. George), Limassol
CONTACT 99 624376 or 99 599715
PRICE Dinner for two, €30 to €40
BOOKING Recommended for Sunday afternoons

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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