What is Date Night Dining?
This column is about the experience of food in Chattanooga. I will take people out for dinner and lunch dates at various restaurants in the Chattanooga region. It is not meant to be a review per se, but an account of a one-time experience at a restaurant. Your mileage may vary depending upon your expectations.
This week, I had the pleasure of dining with the famous Julie Bestry, a certified professional organizer from Chattanooga. If it’s unorganized, Julie can organize it. That goes for your life, office, closet etc. Her work and blog can be found here. I even let her organize this date and she decided to take me to one of her favorite restaurants in the city: Acropolis Mediterranean Grill at 2213 Hamilton Place Blvd.
Throughout the evening, we would experience flaming cheese, shout "Oopah!" and talk about how we both never really appreciated "Star Wars."
A visit to the Acropolis is a rare thing me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the flavors of the Mediterranean, but rather I’m usually spending my time in the Hamilton Place area buying socks and underwear at the mall (I go through a lot of boxer briefs). So, I was thrilled Julie chose Acropolis for that reason and because I haven’t had the chance to experience the new remodels and renovations. They’ve also "stepped up the menu" by sourcing more local ingredients to enhance the Greek recipes. Julie has been coming to Acropolis for years. She said the new decor is impressive, but it’s the food that has improved. "It was always tasty, but now the ingredients seem even fresher," she said. Throughout the years, Julie estimated that she’s dined at Acropolis hundreds of times. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything 100 times. I was in good hands. Here’s the latest menu from the restaurant.
The first thing you notice on the exterior of Acropolis is just how cozy everything appears. The outside patio is reminiscent of the Brix Nouveau, a place for lounging and enjoying a meal in the breeze. Upon entry, you are faced with the famous dessert display. Every dessert is made in-house by a pastry chef and the subtle differences in every selection indicate nothing but quality. I found myself drawn to a baby eclair like Gollum to the one ring. Our server was Steven. He was pleasant and attentive. Julie said the service has always been friendly and wonderful. She also pointed out that the serving staff was not comprised of youngsters. Nothing but high marks from us regarding the service.
Like cheese? What about cheese that is literally on fire? The Saganaki appetizer would be reason enough to visit Acropolis. The flavor is fresh lemon and melted cheese, but the presentation involves tableside fire and shouting "Oopah!" while unsuspecting guests dive underneath tables in terror, clutch their children and shout cusses. It’s sadistic and I LOVED it. The cheese is a Kasseri. Once the flame has died down, you eat it like you would any cheese spread. Acropolis gives you plenty of bread for that purpose.
Both Julie and I thought it would be best(ry) to order sampler platters for the purpose of this date. She had the vegetarian version of a Greek antipasto: dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (phyllo dough pastry with a spinach-feta mixture), tiropita (just feta, same phyllo), tzatziki sauce, pita bread and a "feta-drenched" salad. I had the much heavier Greek Combo with pastitsio (lasagna-esque: sirloin, pasta, cheese), moussaka (eggplant, potatoes and sirloin), gyro meat and stuffed dolmades. My late grandmother on my father’s side used to make us dolmades (she called them "grape leaf rolls") during visits to Arizona. The Acropolis version was almost as good. Everything we both tried was exceptional and for $14 a plate, I had more than enough food to last several meals. My favorite flavor of the meal was the moussaka. I’m a sucker for a eggplant and this was perfect.
They were out of Julie’s favorite dessert, the Reese’s Pie, so she opted out. There was no way I was leaving Acropolis without trying something. The smallest proper dessert they had (with the exception of cookies) was a baby eclair. I asked if it was "actually made from babies" and Steven assured me it was not. I don’t know what I was eating, but I know I would certainly eat it again. It wasn’t too heavy or filling after a big meal. Dessert fans should seek out Acropolis even if they’re not planning on eating a full dinner.
Would we go back?
Julie has probably already been back to Acropolis since we met up for our date on Wednesday night. If I ever get the urge to a woo another lady, I think the Acropolis provides the perfect "first date" environment. It’s not too fussy, the food is great and you don’t have to spend $100 on unnecessary luxury. Oopah indeed!
The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.