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Πέμπτη, 18 Αυγούστου 2011

Saltiness by the Sea!

So the other night I went on a date (yeay!) to a new place that's only just opened in Ierapetra. Rumour had it they served Chinese and Italian. Yes. In Ierapetra. Chinese and Italian. Given we've never had a proper Italian place and the last Chinese restaurant we had closed down years ago, this was something I dared not miss.

It's located right next to "Petra Mare", a fancy(-ish) hotel overlooking the sea. I must say, the look of the restaurant rather catered to my taste. A sturdy stone-wall entrance way led to two different available levels. The top, a group of round tables and chairs with an open air kitchen (always a favourite with me, see La Pasteria) so tongues of fire kept lighting up the surrounding area, the bottom about 5 or 6 tables right above the rocks. As we sat down (3rd table, lower level) I thought to myself, "Mmm, this place is so nice, so pretty, so um.. humid". -The waiter actually had to wipe the water off the table before we could touch it and the red paper napkins were shrivelling up slowly and pitifully in a rather comic way (admittedly, matching paper place mats were not such a grand idea for somewhere so close to the sea)- That having been said, the view was indeed breathtaking. A sandy and rocky beach stretched out just below us, illuminated by white glowing lamps, while waves broke loudly on the shore, sending that lovely salty scent up to greet us throughout the meal and bringing back fuzzy childhood memories. It's no wonder the place is called Αλμύρα (AlmEEra, ie "Saltiness", a name somewhat puzzling initially). To the far right, seemingly out at sea, twinkly lights winked merrily in the distance, one of the rather flattering views of the town (or if you're my mother "the only flattering view of the town"!).

Moving on to the -also paper- menus. These weren't as sodden as the napkins (though the breadsticks, unbelievably, were!), even if they were rather small (then again that might just be the glutton in me, so heed me not). Nonetheless, there were a few (6) Chinese dishes and another few (4) Italian ones, as well as four or five house specials, a combining concept entirely novel for Ierapetra's standards, so bravo for daring. Being myself a voracious eater of Chinese food, I decided to have the Stir fry with Shrimp, Basil and Chilli with Noodles, and my date got the sweet and sour chicken with rice ("Damn!" I thought. Seeing as I'm not a huge fan of the sweet and sour taste, I would not constantly be able "try" my date's meal. I hid my disappointment in a glass of fine white wine.) For starters we ordered local mushrooms ("πλευρώτους") with bacon and balsamic vinegar (yeah, I know, how Chinese is that for you? Lol, they didn't actually have any ethnic salads or starters, so don't judge!)

Mushrooms and Bacon in Balsamic
The local part of the meal actually turned out to be the best part of the meal. You know how mushrooms can sometimes get a little overpowering, especially when you eat quite a few on their own? (At least Cretan ones do, I don't know about other types) Well, the bacon worked beautifully with them, those tender, juicy, sweet wine-and-balsamic-oozing mushrooms on the one hand, the meaty, straightforward bacon on the other, an excellent pairing. After that starter, you can bet we were hankering for more.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Next came the sweet and sour chicken. The piggy in me couldn't resist, so I eventually "tried" a mouthful (or few) and was quite impressed. As a dish in itself it wasn't anything overly spectacular, but it did actually manage to live up to your average asian cuisine expectations, quite the achievement over here. Next came my own dish. Not so impressed. The fact that the waiter announced "SPAGHETTI" with prawns, did not bode well. We spent the better part of an hour arguing whether it was in fact fat egg noodles or accidental spaghetti-turned-noodles-in-the-lack-of-noodles alla typical cretan style. Whatever the truth was, it was not cooked well. The prawns were nice (but then again how can you possibly go wrong there), while the vegetables were also tasty, as was the spicy sauce, even if the whole ensemble scarcely resembled anything remotely Chinese. A stray chickpea in my dish did make for an amusing find though!

Stir Fry noodles with Shrimps, Basil and Chilli

To restore peace and order, the meal was rounded off with a bowl of complimentary vanilla icecream with crumbled digestive biscuits and sour cherries. Yum!

Impressions? Well, all in all I think very good for Ierapetra standards, what with trying to juggle different ethnic cuisines and it being their first couple of weels in the business. The mushrooms were obviously the highlight of the evening, with the chicken living up to expectations and the noodles a bit of a disappointment with regards to Chinesey-culinary-styley, but still rather yumm-ey, so I'm pretty sure I'll give the place another shot. Maybe next time I'll go for a house special. I did actually hear someone comment (it was more of a mouthfull gurgle to be precise) on the souvlaki-looking-satay-chicken so maybe that's up next. ;) Anyhow, if you're tired of the same old rakadiko/taverna scene and want something a bit more posh, pretty and romaaantic (*flutters eyelashes*), go on and give it a go, I expect you'll be quite pleasantly surprised.

In a nutshell
Do you get your money's worth? Yes, it was all reasonably priced. Starters and salads 4-8euros, main meals 7-10 euros each.
Is it worth it? Definitely. Not many places with a view like that, I can tell you.
Will I go again? Yes. It was a good effort and merits a second visit. :)

P.S. After all that praise for the view, one would expect an adequate photo to show it off, buuuut.. the sea spray kept getting in the way of the lens. Humbug.

3 σχόλια:

eemanno είπε...

I was quite surprised to find a review for Almyra on your Blog :)
I live in Ierapetra and being a foodie as well I must agree with your review and to confirm on your saying. I was happy to hear there was a restaurant serving Chinese around here but was a bit dissapointed after I tried it. The noodles were badly cooked as yours (coincidence?) and the rice as well. The Pad Thai... well wasn't Pad Thai and the Satay... was not Satay. The service was really slow as well but maybe it's because it's new. The Italian dishes were better though and I have to admit that the location is excellent and the place looks really nice. I also liked the cocktails (but also took ages to get...).
Anyways, I am trying to food blog around Ierapetra as well so you can check my experiences if you are interested at! cheers...

Em M είπε...

Hi there eemanno! I am so sorry I hadn't got round to replying to you for so long, but I've been (and still am) ill. I went over your blog, it looks good! I like anything about food, especially food near me ;) Yes, I think our experiences weren't coincidentally similar... I went back a few days after your comment and was served rotten salmon. I complained and was actually laughed at! I spent the rest of the evening over the sink with appalling stomach pains. They're lucky I didn't sue for foodpoisoning.. Anyway, as soon as I feel up to it I will update this review and will NOT be recommending people visit Almyra anymore...

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