Here’s the problem about reviewing the menu at Cyprus: By design it’s kaleidoscopic, changing on a regular basis from Italian to Thai, Mediterranean, French, South American, Pan-Asian or Caribbean native cuisines.
Of course, that’s not really a problem if your palate is a world traveler.
Having said that, there are constants to Cyprus that’ll ensure the validity of this piece, regardless of which evening you visit.
First, there’s the luxurious décor, which informs every moment of the experience. Walls are tricked out in impossibly rich shades of olive, orange and sage. The copper-edged bar is at once elegant and electric with its highlights of deep red. The dining room is spacious enough to allow intimate conversation while larger tables are made for boisterous exchanges – Cyprus is that kind of place. It’s all enhanced by soft music and a carefully designed lighting scheme.
Yet somehow, even with all the care given to the details, the center of the restaurant is the dazzling open kitchen overseen by owner/chef Nicholas Figel. It’s an endlessly fascinating show that’s inviting and endlessly surprising, much like the Cyprus experience itself.
On the evening my companion and I were there, Nick’s kitchen was turning out astonishing creations.
We started out with fresh-from-the-sea appetizers – South African Kwazulu Coast Barbecued Red Grouper with Pumpkin and Norland Red Potato Souffle, spread upon a succulent Dutch Snap Pea Salad for my sweetie; Oahu Napali Coast Mixed Sushi Rolls with Wild Salmon, Pineapple, Pepper and Spam, served with Wasabi and Pickled Ginger for me.
If the inclusion of Spam on such a rarified menu surprises you, well, that’s the point. As one who lived for many years on Oahu, I can promise you that Spam is a staple of the Hawaiian diet. Nick is faithful to his peasant-inflected cuisine and there’s an unshakable authenticity that infuses every part of Cyprus’ menu.
“It takes a little more effort, but I regularly shop the ethnic markets in Atlanta to ensure that we maintain uncompromised quality in each dish that we serve,” Nick says. “In the kitchen, we go the extra mile to express ideas in food which are sincere, and we remain mindful that our food is a vessel for communication
Sure enough, the extra attention gave the appetizers a fresh immediacy that set the stage for our far-corners-of-the-world entrees – Cape Flattery Washington Coast Grilled Troll King Salmon with Transparent Apple & Sour Cherry Coulis, Barbecued All Blue Potatoes and Tellecherry Black Peppercorn Compound Butter; and New Zealand Coromandel Peninsula Roast Rack of Lamb Seasoned with Garlic and Rosemary, Crushed Potato, Dijon Mustard, and Fresh
Since I only have a limited amount of space here, let me just say that the food was exquisite. Cyprus is celebrating 10 years and its reputation has spread far beyond this little town. That should be testimony enough.
And though our meals were deeply satisfying on so many levels, my sweetie and I wisely saved room for a couple of desserts, the kind that wake you up years later with impossible cravings. She selected the Lavender Ice Cream Sandwich dipped in delicate wildflower honey, while I fell hard for Quetzalcoatl’s Dream – a heady blending of Cayenne and Cinnamon Ice Cream and Seasoned Dark Chocolate Ganache over Chocolate Cake. There was nothing subtle about my choice, it was a full-out seduction.
And while I’ve devoted most of this to the unforgettable food and the luxurious décor, I have to mention the service staff. While there’s an air of flash and showmanship to Cyprus, the servers are a perfect complement – unobtrusive, alert and, quietly confident.
Cyprus is located on the Dillard Road, four-tenths of a mile from Main Street. Call (828) 526-4429 or visit cyprushighlands.com for reservations.
You won’t need your passport.
By Luke Osteen