During my recent 20 day trip to Cyprus I had the chance to visit several restaurants and taste different kinds of cuisines. When I chose to dine at this specific place I was after a high-level Cypriot restaurant with a unique atmosphere and service. It did not disappoint me at all -on the contrary it surprised me happily and it touched me. This award winning restaurant made me proud of being a Cypriot myself. It is an outstanding restaurant first of all that combines high-level Cypriot cuisine, the best Cypriot wines, and at the same time its philosophy is focused on authentic Cypriot tradition with the aim to promote the Cypriot cultural heritage related to gastronomy, wine and the pottery art of Kornos.
Me on the other hand as a Professional Guide Writer and a person who travels around Cyprus and Greece in an attempt to spot the Gems of the two countries I could not miss visiting it because it is one of those restaurants surely “Not to be Missed!”
Cuisine: Everything is cooked in virgin olive oil and freshly picked herbs –this is partly where the excellent taste comes from. (Free range chicken and domestic meat) The taste and combinations are outstanding and everything comes from the distinguished team of the Chef of Archontiko who is inspired from authentic forgotten recipes and who uses exclusively indigenous ingredients. I found the food light and at the same time delicious. It was presented with the artistic flair of nouvelle cuisine, with interesting dishes from the Cypriot tradition updated to suite modern taste.
Menu: The menu list is rich with a variety of traditional local dishes which are changed at regular intervals. On this first visit I decided to have a combination of different dishes something like a meze. Here however they call it “The Clay Pots” and it is a selection of popular creations including several cold and hot starters, salads, and three small portions of main dishes which are nicely presented in clay pots, crafted in the pottery workshop of the restaurant.
Organized theme nights and wine tasting events are surely not to be missed.
Clay Pots: The “Clay Pots” menu costs 28 euros per person and it surely deserves a try as this menu gives the opportunity to the guest to taste a variety of dishes in smaller portions. I started my gastronomic journey with two of the signature salads of the restaurant -Rocket salad garnished with pine nuts and kefalotiri cheese tossed with pomegranate and walnuts in grape sauce. The second was a mixture of crunchy greens with traditional smoked meat (lountza) dried fruit tossed in orange juice and brandy. Both salads were exceptional, so tasty, colourful and immensely nutrient! The third one is the Village salad but I guess I will try it when I am in Cyprus again! On the a la carte menu each salad costs 12 euros!
We had several cold and hot starters (you can see everything in the photos) -everything was fresh, delicious, colourful and yummy! We had the Chef’s platter of the day. I loved the stuffed mushrooms with cheese and herbs, and the aubergine mille-feuille with tomato, parsley, feta cheese and crunch home-made pastry. The Oven slow-roasted lamb with fresh herbs brought to us in a small clay pot was beyond my expectations delicious, tender as it should be, accompanied with seasonal veggies and potatoes. The other dish presented in a clay pot was the Oven-baked ‘Tavas’ with artichokes, fresh seasonal vegetables in rich tomato sauce seasoned with cumin. (A dish similar to the Irish stew).
If you love pasta, don’t miss the homemade pasta called “sklinitziou” with local cheeses and sun dried tomatoes sauce with pistachio nuts. Try the chicken breast with dates. It is a grandmother’s recipe and it is served with bourgouri and potatoes. You will love it! Everything brought is nicely presented, so unique, fresh and delicious that it is difficult for me to point out a few as I loved the whole package just as it was presented.
We finished this journey of taste with four different mouth-watering home-made desserts that left a feeling of gratifying and delectable taste. Although I had no intention of having any, I could not resist!
Wine: The Wine catalogue was long but I tried a glass of Makkos Shiraz 2010 –it had a smooth and rounded taste, and I also had a glass of Cabernete sauvignon with a strong fruity note -I miss the brand at the moment.
Staff: Professionals, providing an excellent service and making their guests feel like home. It is amazing how they can explain in detail the menu and help the guest choose what to have.
Atmosphere: I found it unique but although there is a touch of elegance and formality “fine dining” here should not make you think that you are in a continental Michelin star venue! Make yourself comfortable and enjoy the ambience and warm hospitality of the place, let your mind travel you and enjoy your outing with the rich flavours of the brilliantly created recipes of the Cypriot tradition. You see, this place runs with much passion and a clear sense of mission in an attempt to revive the Cypriot culinary heritage.
The Building: The word ‘Archontiko’ means a mansion-house and it is based in a traditional restored house -dating back to 1897 with some rooms even older, with architectural and morphological features of neoclassical style. Its owner Mr. Michali Papadopoulos was the president of the village council of Kornos, -a merchant those days. So, the whole place is surrounded by history. This three-storey mansion is a construction where stone prevails comprising of different areas divided by mudstone, a cluster of various old traditional elements and has a characteristic middle garden -an amazing spot to dine during the hot summer days. It is impressive with a character of its own.
It is amazing how things like the floors, the doors and handles, the wooden carved beams that support the roof are preserved in line with the traditional character. I recommend that you ask for a tour through the whole building upon arrival to get to know the place. The tour will surely travel you.
The Cultural Centre: It encloses a pottery studio among other rooms. The art of pottery was greatly developed in the village of Kornos since antiquity and still is. In the pottery studio of the mansion I met Mrs. Theognosia who showed me how she creates her pots.
There is a library, and the old grocery store with a central arch so beautifully decorated with pots and posters, and several products that the store had on sale those days on the upper shelves.
There is a ‘Commandaria bar’ and actually the only one in Cyprus, with all kinds of Commandaria. I tried a shot glass of one of the oldest ones. What an experience! It is the only place in Cyprus where you can taste any kind of this drink by glass. (Commandaria is an amber-coloured dessert wine produced in Cyprus since 4.000 years ago).
In the cellar there are more than 2.000 bottles of exclusively Cypriot premium wines (different labels) to choose from.
The recently prized cellar can be hired for a private gathering or a romantic dinner for two. Out here it is housed the oldest Commandaria found on the island that dates back to more than a hundred years. It was found forgotten in this cellar in a concentrated form inside a clay urn –one of the leading wine discoveries of the last century. The discovery is by all means of historic and scientific importance. The ancient barrels found here are of rare century-old residues and are subject to scientific studies.
Whether you are a wine or food lover that wants to combine an unforgettable outing, this is the right spot for you. The cuisine will amaze you, the recipes are authentic Cypriot with an inspired touch that you will cherish till the next time you be back…because I am sure you will !
The restaurant is closed on Mondays but its doors are open on Tuesdays till Sunday from 9:30 a.m – 3:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m till 11:00 p.m.
I highly recommend Archontiko for a ‘classy outing’ a special occasion or a friendly gathering. In all I would say that the restaurant provides an exceptional ambiance, a good value for money for both food and wine….the perfect setting for an unforgettable outing. The guest will surely find the authentic Cypriot hospitality here. Keep the good work up guys….you surely deserve to be the first in your kind.
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