The most memorable mezze meals that I’ve had in Cyprus are those when the menu is created on a daily basis depending on what is local and seasonal. And the Stolen Lamb does exactly the same although, of course, it is taking local Cheshire produce and giving it a Cypriot spin. It does it very well – which was something of a relief as, truth be told, I winced a bit when I saw the £30 price of the mezze. I wondered if this was simply latching on to the local wealth that you find in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle. Allegedly, there are more Ferraris per head of population here than anywhere else in the country. But, no, it reflects the ingredients and the skill in preparing them.
As with most mezze meals, the dishes come in waves and the three introductions were lovely. Some warmed olives, olive oil heavily infused with garlic and a beetroot and pistachio “houmous” and toasted warm pitta bread.
Next up, small dice of cured salmon , together with the delicate flavouring of caper leaves. These leaves are tricky buggers – the stems have small sharp thorns and they find their way into the jars of the pickle that you can readily buy in Cyprus. Then a plate of wild boar and Kefalotiri cheese – a sort of take on the lounza/halloumi dish that is almost a given to appear early on in a mezze in Cyprus; alongside, a “crispy” egg – a very runny Scotch egg affair. Pork, cheese, egg - what’s not to like? The third dish of this course was halloumi. Coated in sesame seeds and dressed with kale and cannellini beans, this was a belter.
Moving, on, there was a turkey souvlaki. That was no doubt a reflection of the festive season and, as always with turkey, it was something on the dry side. Perhaps my least favourite thing all evening. To help it along, a couple of different flavoured sausages – the dominant spicing in both was cinnamon but at different levels. Much better, were some quickly fried king prawns. They sat in a garlic & cauliflower cream that really needed some bread for mopping up but, by then, we’d scoffed all the pitta. There was also a bowl of salad and another of pourgouri, heavily flavoured with roast onion.
Moving on, there were two main elements to the next course. Firstly an excellent dolmades made, according to the menu, to “Mum’s recipe”. And a really excellent kleftiko – the signature dish, I suppose, the word translates as “stolen lamb”. This was long cooked shoulder and was a joy to eat. Alongside, a bowl of simply roasted root vegetables.
And, finally, three elements to dessert – pear poached in red wine was a perfect example of the pear poachers art; a honeycomb ice cream which didn’t really have much taste of anything; and a sticky little cube of baklava.
If I had one complaint, it was the room was bloody cold but it really had been a good effort all round. A thoroughly enjoyable evening eating a favourite national cuisine style. Can’t wait to get back to Paphos to make comparisions.