A Rare Home Cooked Treat!
Brighton Food Reviewer, Carissa Wyten, February 2016
As a European, to me a perfect restaurant experience is one that can transport you back to a holiday somewhere at sometime, on the Mediterranean coast … where you can hear gentle waves crashing in an ancient fishing port, feel the warm sun on your back and embrace the laughter of close knit families in the village.
I like to feel ‘at home’ when I dine ‘out’, as strange as that sounds and as much as I am akin to cooking, there is something comforting about knowing you are eating home-cooked food, made with true love in an unfamiliar setting.
A Rare Find
It is very rare to find a homely dining environment in Brighton, but Estia (coincidently derived from the Greek Goddess of domesticity) is a charming local Cypriot tavern, that manages to make even the most foreign of visitors feel welcome. Eating here is similar to dining at a friend’s house with γιαγιά (aka Yaya/ Grandma) cooking in the kitchen. From the un-obnoxious décor to the intimate dining space and family owned atmosphere, it’s easy to perform the art of doing nothing and that of only eating between these 4 whitewashed walls.
Around For 12 Years
For 12 years, the owner Andreana and her husband Andy (head Chef) have been running Estia and the food is a good today as it was over a decade ago – some would argue better. Perhaps because food and hospitality have always been in their genes. From a young age both the A’s helped their parents with family run food businesses and similarly today you will find the 3rd generation of family members helping wait tables and socialize with customers.
Steeped in Cypriot culture, Estia cooks family recipes passed down from generation to generation … you would find it hard to get a better Cypriot meze, traditional stew and souvlaki than here.
Cyprus for those of you, who are unfamiliar, is a country, hugging a Greek south and a Turkish north is a solidary island in the Mediterranean rich in history (proposed birthplace of Aphrodite – Lady of Cyprus) and cuisine. It has many independent merits, which luckily for us filters through into a dream Anatolian mélange cuisine inspired by both the Middle East and Mediterranean.
Typical Cypriot Dishes
Typical Cypriot dishes found in Estia are; vegetarian moussaka, dolmades, kleftiko (slow cooked lamb shoulder) and stifado (a rich beef stew). All mains are served with perfectly cooked, parsley sprinkled potato chips and a typical Estia Village Salad (i.e. with Greek feta and kalamata olives).
I opted for the rice side, knowing it is an Estia favourite and was so impressed I decided to probe a little deeper and managed to sneak out the recipe’s ingredients from the Chef. An interesting meal is one that leaves my taste buds confused and contemplating the ingredients and unusual additions.
I won’t give all their secrets away – but I can hint that hidden in there somewhere are cardamom pods, cinnamon and a touch of tomato essence.
Fast And Fresh Service
Entrées were fast and fresh with kefdedakia (homemade meatballs) and crispy calamari enjoyed. Both were generous portions and perhaps made us reconsider our main choices, as we were not going to forego dessert.
In addition to the honest menu of home-style main specialties and Cypriot classics there were several fish dishes on offer, either served fresh as the special of the day, such as the seabream or the swordfish steak (a regular, popular menu item).
We indulged in fresh seabream, pork souvlaki and generous portions of sides.
Initially vowing not to finish all of the potatoes, we just simply couldn’t resist and soon found the bowl to be completely empty.
Iconic Homemade Desserts
Now more than comfortably full and a few belt buttons released, we started turning our attention towards dessert. I sensed my dining partner was already committed to the special dessert he had been eyeing up since we walked into the taverna. So, orders were taken for the iconic, homemade galataporeko dessert served with fresh cream and lemon sorbet for moi, more as a palette cleanser and a waist-friendly option.
The moreish galataporeko dessert featured a nod to some of the Arabic flavours prevalent in Cyprus, although it tasted more sincere and natural than perhaps I had tried before. I sensed a true rose syrup infusion.
If you prefer to stick to the more obvious sweets, you can also find baklava, as sticky and gooey as you could hope for or for the more health conscious a Greek creamy yoghurt with mountain honey would be your safest option.
Glorious Home Cooking
Dinner done, we opted for a long stroll home in the hope of burning off some of the extra calories consumed during our feast at Estia. But we made sure not to exert ourselves, after all with one glass of wine and a cold evening the best place to be was tucked up in bed after having such a glorious home-cooked meal.
Down a little side street, Hampton Place leading into central Brighton is where you will find Estia; a simple, honest home-style meze Taverna with Mediterranean dishes served with a welcoming smile.
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- Check out our recommended Mediterranean Restaurants