One hot Saturday afternoon, after doing a tango class together, a Malaysian-Australian girl and a British-Australian guy had lunch in a Turkish restaurant. She wanted to write her first food review for WeekendNotes. He just enjoyed female company, and eating out.
Nicosia Kebab House is a Turkish restaurant in Glenferrie Road, Malvern. Though it is pretty normal for a customer to poke his or her head inside the door and holler, "Hi, just a chicken doner today, thanks," it is more than just a takeaway kebab joint. It is a fully-fleshed restaurant, owned and managed by a Cypriot family that migrated to Melbourne 25 years ago.
The décor made a much more substantial impression than the website. It seems to be built around no particular concept or theme but has eclectic touches which will provoke conversation. Customers' eyes are immediately drawn to the reflective glass panels at the back of the room. I liked the forks-and-spoons clock, although I didn't understand how hand-woven baskets fit in with the rest of the decor. True to what the the website claimed, you can see the chicken and beef doner turning on the spit, just over the meat counter. The arrangement of the wine glasses and cutlery on the small, square tables, spoke of fine dining. Since it was a hot day, Richard (my tango partner) and I were grateful for the ceiling fans.
We chose a spot just by the window, scanned the two menus (not counting the wine menu) and ordered: Lyran (a white, watery yoghurt drink) Home-made lemonata (a drink that will cheer you up through a combination of bright colour and freshness) Mezes (a combination of hot and cold appetizers like fried eggplant, feta cheese, salad and falafel)
Minced meat borek (pastry with minced lamb) Lamb sis lunch plate (lamb fillets with salad) Lunch plate (lamb and chicken doner with salad)
Latte and chai latte (with free Turkish delight)
My conclusion from dining at Nicosia was, "Small space, big servings." As you can see, dining at Nicosia is as much a visual feast as it is a gastronomic exercise. As we ate, we discussed how mezes is similar to the Spanish antipasto and how pide is like a cross between naan and pizza. The Cacik dip (garlic and yoghurt dip), fried eggplant and feta cheese made the mezes particularly enjoyable. By the time the main dishes were served, we were already full. Nevertheless, we nibbled at them. We preferred the tender lamb pieces to the chicken doner. Note that while the mains may seem like a great deal (one main costs around 12 dollars), 80 per cent of the dishes are vegetables.
Our waitress, Sue Azu, was also the manager, and we were able to chat to her while eating. The smiling 32-year-old with shining eyes and a pregnant belly told us the story of Nicosia, which was also the story of her family. Sue contrasted starkly with her father, Mr Azu, a short, bespectacled, bald man in a black apron who stalks around the restaurant from time to time with a serious expression akin to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator or J. Edgar, as if to say, "Eat your falafel".
Would I eat there again? Considering the proximity to my house, the prices and the dining experience, I probably would. I can see why most people like it. Because of the small number of tables (that can only seat up to 4), I wouldn't recommend bringing your whole brood here. But it's a good spot for a lazy lunch with a friend.
awesome! as a Turkish speaking Cypriot, this is very good to know about! I wouldn't say falafel is part of the Cypriot cuisine though... but it all looks very tasty! I hope they have the halloumi cheese (helim). yummmmm, thanks for letting us know! (=