Review of Kyrenia, Caversham

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Luckily, D went for a sleepover at Grandad's on our anniversary and we aimed to go out for an evening meal - one of those treats that is all too few and far between.  We didn't really have a fixed plan which was probably our first mistake.  We'd considered a film but there wasn't anything that really appealed.  We sort of talked about a couple of places in the town centre but rejected them all as places we could probably take D.

We decided that Caversham was a good idea.  I'm not really sure why.  Not long before D arrived we had a similar plan to have a nice meal in Caversham and ended up in Picasso.  That was a disaster.  Anywhere that charges £9 per dish for tapas is probably not quite considering what the clientele wants.

On that occasion we had traversed much of Caversham, trying to get into several places we liked the look of only to discover that they were fully booked.  The fact that Picasso was the only place with any tables should have given us pause for thought.

This time, we attempted Quattro and Mya Lacarte (the latter owned by Yasmina Siadatan of Apprentice fame) but both were fully booked even though we arrived pre-seven o'clock.  A disappointment - we really need to make that decision in advance.  If we ever manage to be child free again of an evening (I'm guessing 2019?) then we'll book.

We ended up in Kyrenia.  Last time we had been on the look for somewhere to go in Caversham, we had been turned away but this time we were awarded a table upstairs.  The menu isn't overly veggie but as I'm a massive fan of veggie moussaka, I was happy enough to give it a try.

The upstairs of the Kyrenia is odd.  It houses six tables and feels a bit like a pop-up restaurant in a home dining room.  The other tables all felt just a little too close.  Not just that but you feel a little abandoned by the waiting staff up there.  Table service is really very slow.  I recognise that the atmosphere is geared up for lingering dinners but it just didn't work.  For a start, tables were having to share menus as there weren't enough printed to go around.  Given that they were just printed menus rather than fully laminated masterpieces this was very odd.  There just weren't enough for more than one table to peruse at once.

Anyway, we eventually gave our order.  We opted for the three dips and the halloumi.  The halloumi was tasty, just as you'd expect for my favourite squeaky cheese.  Between us both and as an addition to the dips it was reasonable but realising afterwards that it was £6 did make us feel a little bit of regret for the purchase.  The salad was a decent size and had a little bit of seasoning to add a tiny bit of flavour.

The trio of dips was pretty good.  The houmous was flavourful with a drizzle of oil but I actually had better at my surprise baby shower this week...  The tzatziki was okay but could have done with a little more seasoning.  The surprise for me was the panzarosalata.  This was seriously tasty and not something that I've ever had before.  It contained shredded beetroot and apple in a sort of marinade with walnuts to provide a little bit of crunch.  I am definitely going to make this myself.    

Alongside the dips came pitta bread - I would have liked about half as much again of this or something else to dip in the dips - it felt like we left an awful lot over at the end.  If I had been able to catch the eye of a waitress I would have asked but unfortunately, no dice.   By the time we did have our dishes removed, the moment had passed as we'd used forks to get hold of some of the dips.

So the starter was okay overall with the highlight being the panzarosalata.  We eagerly awaited our mains.  Mr K opted for the meat moussaka and I the vegetarian one.  While I've not had moussaka in Greece or Cyprus, or even in a Greek restaurant I have tried versions of the moussaka that seem to suggest the béchamel sauce is a sauce rather than a thicker, slightly dry topping.  

Here's the dish.  It featured one of the largest, undressed salads I've ever seen.  There is only so much undressed lettuce that I can manage, even with feta cubes punctuating the dish.  The moussaka portion itself looked very tiny in comparison to the salad and felt a little disappointing, particularly at £15.  Unfortunately though, this is not the worst of it.  The worst is that the bottom was burnt.  The aubergines had moved beyond nicely chargrilled to inedible.  

Mr K said that his meat version was fine but he similarly felt a bit cheated by the overlarge salad.  

It then took around twenty minutes before we could catch the eye of someone to remove our plates and order the bill.  While I'm not aversed to sitting and chatting, I don't generally want to do it with half empty plates in front of me and as we weren't enjoying the atmosphere or the food, we were keen to get moving on to somewhere else.  Nothing on the dessert menu really appealed and we didn't really want to pay any more or hope that the meal might take a dramatic turn for the better.  

So we went to the Alto Lounge instead for a drink.  Having only eaten about a third of my moussaka, I was still a little peckish and I had a dessert - this rather exquisite butterscotch Angel Delight creation.  

It seriously turned around a pretty disappointing evening.  So, in short, Kyrenia, worth avoiding.  Planning our outings in advance - recommended.  Dessert at Alto Lounge - definitely worth it.

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