There is a fish restaurant (Varoshiotis Seafood Restaurant) I've now been to three times. I
really liked it and it will soon disappear. The owner told me that the local council have been intending for some time to demolish the three fish restaurants that perch on the seafront at Larnaca
near the fishing port. In January 2013 it had disappeared to make way for a road-widening scheme.
In February 2011 I went in and was warmly greeted, a single middle aged man on his own looking hot and tired, dressed in a heavy brown corduroy jacket, black jeans, cheap sales-bought tan leather Clark’s shoes and a little powder blue backpack. That’s me.
I asked for wine and water and the short, enthusiastic, hard-working owner came and chatted to me. He’d to have worked for fourteen years in his dad's fish and chip shop in Acton in West
London and his strong London accent was peppered with 'innits' . On a second visit he told me that his dad had had one of the first take-away shops in Famagusta.
I sat by the window and every now and then a wave would splash onto it. The man took me to show me what fish he had – a nice looking sea bream but too big for me – some red snappers. He explained that you would be lucky to get fish in a restaurant in Cyprus for less than €60 a kilo. In the end he suggested I have a fillet of (farmed) sea bass. Before that he brought me a bowl of fish soup with toast on the house.
I drank the cold white wine and relaxed. He had a good eye when it came to picking waitresses, who looked uncannily like the smiling limestone sculptures I had seen in the museums. I smiled back. The sea bass was delicious cooked on a charcoal grill with a sauce of sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar and delicious sautéed potatoes underneath.
Another glass of wine and a sesame seed bread spiced with cardamom or caraway. A little pudding of cheese in a deep-fried pasty. A Cyprus coffee and I was done.
A delicious wonderful meal out of the glare of the sun after I'd schlepped for hours around Larnaca (previous page). At one point the owner walked to the window and raised his arms in his crisp white shirt. As if by magic a great swarm of Mediterranean gulls took off from the choppy sea 50 metres away and flocked to the window where he threw out bread to the swooping, calling, cawing birds.
On our second visit to sea was again choppy and every now and then a wave would break over the windows with a great splash. This time we had the fish mezze selection and a bottle of Cretan wine.
The feat started with a fish soup and toast, then a selection of cold mezze and a salad – taramasalata, shredded crab, garlic potato pure, beans and octopus, carrots in lemon juice and tahini. Then a series of hot dishes arrived in quick succession. Crunchy baby crab deep fried. Octopus charcoal grilled. Two grilled shrimp. Two mussels. Deep fried calamari. Grilled Cuttlefish. A seafood soufflé. Two risoles. Fried bread with sea salt. A small grilled sea bream. And chips.
It was so good we went back a third time on a different trip. I expected the restaurant to be gone but it was still there. We had the fish mezze again and staggered off to the hot, stuffy airport
and the irritating the car hire return. The gulls were not there but the owner assured us they'd be back later in the summer.
On our last visit in January of 2013 we happily drove along to Varoshiotis. But it had gone. Really gone. We ate in a restaurant closer to the fishing port but it wasn't the same. No
crashing waves, no souffle, no bonhomie.
In the restaurant's old place we diggers and dump-trucks. I could just make out the old tiled floor but that was it. It was really gone. (But the Facebook page lives on).