Cyprus Kebab House, St Michael’s Hill: Review

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When my sister recently visited Bristol and (surprisingly – she’s a poor student…) wanted to be taken out for dinner. When asked what she fancied, her answer was Greek food – a cuisine that is actually offered by surprisingly few places in Bristol. So I decided to take her to one of my favourite hidden secrets, namely the Cyprus Kebab House on St Michael’s Hill.

Looking at the place from the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking the worst – with its muted exterior and the view through the window, most would think that it’s just your bog-standard Friday-night-post-drinking-type haunt. Beyond the rotating kebab spits and the chiller counter full of skewered meat, however, there’s a sit down restaurant that holds about 20…

To be honest, the decor inside isn’t that great either. The whole place is very 1980s in its feel, with the walls plastered with photos and a huge wall-long painted map of Cyprus on one side. Add the Greek music to the mix, and your first impression may not be overwhelmingly positive.

Believe me, though, when I say that it’s worth a try, because their food is fantastic. Owners George and Flora are Greek Cypriot and have brought a taste of their heritage to an unexpected corner of Bristol, with a menu that features a variety of starters, charcoal grill specialities, fish dishes and others – just make sure you arrive hungry.

If you’re not sure what to order and just want to try a bit of everything, I’d recommend their Mezedes menu. Designed for two or more to share and priced at £18.95 per head, this menu consists of a huge number of different dishes, allowing you to experience a wide variety of Cypriot cuisine at a fantastic price.

On the drinks front, there’s a variety of Greek wines (and their house wine’s priced at £17.25 per litre – not bad at all), along with Cypriot beer, lagers, liqueurs, spirits and soft drinks – and a huge number of boozy coffee options. We stuck with their soft drinks (probably the worst value for money of the evening, at £3.50 each) and waited for our food to arrive…

We weren’t waiting long before the first plates arrived: a basket of warm and fluffy sliced pitta bread, perfect for mopping up the three dips with which we were presented. A creamy taramasalata, tahini-spiked hummus and a cooling tzatziki were served in generous portions – it was hard to restrain ourselves for what was to come…

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Dips

 

Next, a huge bowl piled full of shredded lettuce, pickled cabbage, tomatoes, olives, pickled chillies and cubes of salty feta – a lovely fresh accompaniment to the rest of our meal…

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Salad

 

The calamari that arrived shortly afterwards were among the best I’ve had in Bristol: lovely and crisp and well-seasoned on the outside, but still perfectly tender in the middle….

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Calamari

 

We’d been hoping for halloumi, and we weren’t disappointed – a thick slice each which could have been grilled for slightly longer was served with sliced hot and spicy sausages as well as lountza – a Cypriot marinated and smoked pork loin with a lovely strong flavour…

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Cured Meat and Halloumi

 

A Cypriot meal isn’t a Cypriot meal without dolmades, and these rice-stuffed vine leaves were delicious, packed full of flavoursome spices…

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Vine Leaves

 

We then moved onto more hot dishes, beginning with the keftedes (meatballs), which were our least favourite dish of the evening: the texture wasn’t great and the flavour was not as powerful as we had expected…

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Meatballs

 

The spiced tomato rice was rich and inviting, and the dish you see on the left below – was fantastic: a traditional Cypriot afelia, namely pork marinated and cooked in red wine and coriander. Packed full of flavour and lovely and tender, it was a revelation.

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Pork and Rice

 

As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we were presented with our final plate – mixed kebabs. The lamb doner at the bottom was, sadly, not a patch on that we’ve eaten in Cyprus in the past, but the house-made seftalies sausages were packed full of flavour and the pork skewers beautifully cooked with a lovely charcoal flavour.

 

Cyprus Kebab House - Kebab

 

As I said earlier, it’s not just great quality food, it’s generous portions too. Even the individual starters and mains from the a la carte menu are hard to get through, but it’s well worth trying. Just look past the stereotypical kebab shop frontage and give it a go – you won’t be disappointed…

 

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