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Maze > One to impress November 12, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Nicosia.
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Not The Maze or Amaze, just Maze. Divided into two distinct areas, a ground-floor lounge that caters for the in-a-hurry, serve-me-quick brigade, open for lunches and evening snacks; and the top floor, top drawer, leisurely diner.

It was top floor for us. The eye is immediately drawn to the decor, an explosion of colour emanating from the glass wall panelling, the spectrum has been plundered and lit to engage the optical senses. It was worth the visit for this alone. The tables are set for those who like a little room between them and the braying masses. So far, so pleasing.

A waitress immediately appears and takes the order for drinks; a large ouzo and a warming Black Label for the companion; did I mention we had arrived in the monsoon season? Next, the charming and informed Romanian member of staff with the evening menu, we are given sufficient time to make our selections. In many establishments one is either ostracised or hassled, not at Maze.

The card offers a selection of four cold or seven warm starters. The cold ranges from Bruschetta; diced tomatoes, fresh basil drizzled with virgin olive oil, to salmon variations, which comprises smoked salmon mousse, spiced salmon tartar, samosa with spinach and salmon, and potato blini with Keta caviar. This restaurant has a way with salmon. I chose salmon carpaccio, this is spiced with cumin, and served with a coriander flavoured yoghurt mousse, and sweet and sour mango coulis.

The Black Label orders deep fried mushrooms, stuffed with various cheeses. My order arrives on a square china platter containing six thick-cut slices of salmon, and a dressing of mango, accompanied by what I imagine are rice noodles, but am not sure whether I am to eat or admire; it was for decoration I believe, for after trying one, I proceeded no further. The salmon was delicious, but a little chilled for my taste, this is the price of arriving early. My companion offered a taste from his plate, which should provide a lesson to all those establishments that regularly drown weary old fungi in stale oil and expect us to be pleased with the result. These are a delight; crisp, flavour-full and hot.

Various salads are offered, and the fig and apple with cherry tomatoes, fresh mint, lettuce, with a nutty balsamic dressing appealed, but we moved on to the main courses.

The companion, who is a monster for red meat, is tempted by the thin-cut fillet on garlic pitta, but on enquiring as to its exact depth, settled for the beef fillet, which comes in two sizes, large and larger; this is Irish beef at its best. There are various side dishes and he selects potato wedges. I love duck, but it seems only to appear on Chinese menus where it is ceremoniously cremated, and saturated with fat. However; at item 42 on the main menu, is duck breast, with port wine, walnut mustard and wild berry sauce. Bring it on.

The little Romanian cautions me, ‘it is served pink’. ‘What other way is there?’ I respond.
Not since the height of ‘nouvelle cuisine’ in a very snotty hotel in Cluny, have I eaten a better duck; sheer perfection. My only criticism, is that the duck is served on a bed of grilled vegetables, none of which I like, courgettes, peppers and carrots, but it’s just me.

It is now past 9:30pm and the place is filling up. Who is there? The old money, the new money and the girls’ night out. As the place fills, the staff go into warp-drive, this is an establishment where the management are right on the money. No one is kept waiting.

There are nine items on the sweet menu as well as a cheese platter. I go for the panna cotta served with mango and strawberry sauces, in separate dishes, in case you were wondering. The companion selects exotic fruit melange with lemon sorbet and almond tulip. We could have had ‘death by chocolate’ or fondue from chocolate with fresh fruit. Mine is so good, my companion wants it.

There is a reasonably priced wine list, for a restaurant of this quality, and a staggering selection of cocktails, liqueurs and exotic soft drinks. I choose an espresso.

This is a restaurant, where you can take the in-laws, the outlaws, the business group or anyone else you wish to impress, they will not let you down. In the words of the immortal, Wodehouse, it is ‘one of the ones’.

SPECIALITY international cuisine, WHERE 42, Stasikratous street, Nicosia, CONTACT 22 447447, PRICE 3-course meal for 2, £52

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