Thursday, March 10, 2011


My first experience at Domus, a restaurant, bar and lounge housed in an old renovated mansion within Nicosia's Venetian walls, was four years ago for drinks in the ground floor. We were tightly packed, kind of like vacuum-sealed chunks of octopi legs in olive oil. Some of us leaned up against the bar stools, others stood immobilized by the patrons trying to navigate the contrived space, all of us felt our hair stand as our heads swept the dangerously low-lying ceiling and produced static electricity. The speakers screamed and we moved our jaws to the beat of the punchy music. Men craftily unhooked brassieres with their stare while women, dressed and accessorized in labels, repealed such approaches by turning away and sharing their disgust with their girlfriends. Trying to carry a conversation with someone involved setting your lips on that person's ear and barking out questions that required either monosyllabic responses or hand gestures. Most people, some holding martini glasses or tumblers full of ice and strong liquors, were undoubtedly there "to see" and "be seen." Yet, at the end of the night, "seeing" was as far as they would go; no one there wanted high society to judge them for dragging a random stranger home for an after-party short (or long) stack of blueberry pancakes. I still thank whiskey for making my time there flash by and prevent me from bitch-slapping those fools who dared ridicule my obtuse outfit. Granted, the ground floor lounge has been renovated since I last went but I am still guessing it ain't my cup of chamomile.

On the other hand, the restaurant upstairs, thanks to its small rooms and spread-out tables, provides diners with a sense of privacy that is nonexistent below. White curtains and walls separate the many different dining spaces which in one way or another mimic the set of a David Lynch movie; framed mirrors of all shapes and sizes cover the walls, the lighting is exorbitantly dim, antique chandeliers sway above and rustic hardwood floors menacingly creak under one's footstep. The Wife, Ph.D., and I sat in a long corner table usually reserved for six, my female companion hogging the beautiful Victorian-style purplish sofa that faced the main corridor into the restaurant. Several long crystal teardrops (or, uhm, spermatozoa if you are of a one-track mind) hung from the high ceiling and provided a great deal of depth to what is basically a hallway pretending to be a dining room, while down-tempo electronic music (St. Germain and The Gotan Project, among others) played in the background. As soon as we sat, I selected the 2009 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko from Santorini and within a few minutes my precious was poured, revealing its citrus and mineral aromas and flavors.

The extensive menu is "gourmet" for Nicosian standards and by no means inexpensive. As a starter, we ordered a wonderfully crisp parsnip, carrot, beet, celery and Granny Smith apple salad tossed in a light yogurt dressing with fresh herbs. The Wife, Ph.D., who I intuit was a vegetarian or grass-venerating cow in a past life, loved the salad so much she asked me to replicate it at home. Instead, here's a shout-out to the chef or sous-chef: if you happen to read this, how about (pretty please) leaving the recipe as a comment and saving me countless hours of experimentation? My only caveat with the salad was that the celery was cut too thick and overwhelmed, both texture and flavor-wise, the rest of the ingredients. In any case, we followed our appetizer with a stewed hare accompanied by steamed asparagus and a basic Parmesan risotto and a pumpkin, sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta cheese risotto for the herbivorous one. The hare was meaty, juicy and tender and both risottos were creamy, packed with flavor and al dente. We enjoyed every bite of our dishes, even though, in my opinion, the portions were somewhat large for a high-end restaurant. Then again, we live on The Rock and nouvelle cuisine, molecular gastronomy and its associated bite-sized meals have not been generally well received by the locals. Remember, there's no denying that meze and its massive quantities set the rules of the domestic culinary game.

Whine On The Rocks Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Sparkling Spatulas

No comments:

Post a Comment