Wizard Needs Food Badly: Greek Cuisine At Acropolis Grill

Monday, June 6, 2016 - by Paquita Maria Sanchez

Lionel and I were in the mood for something different, so we decided to try out Acropolis Grill in Hamilton Place. The last time we’d had Greek food was at a Greek friend’s dinner party when we were living in Japan, so we were long overdue for some dolmades and gyros.

The first thing you notice when you walk into Acropolis is the display case containing enticing desserts. The counter by the register is filled with cookies and treats. We were told everything was homemade, with bakers working in the kitchen each day just for that purpose.

We arrived about noon on Sunday, and by the time we left there wasn’t a single empty table in the restaurant. It wasn’t long before we found out why.

The menu contained an interesting selection of Greek, American, and a bit of Italian food, but we pretty much arrived seeking specifics. Lionel ordered a gyro sandwich, which came with tomato relish, tzatziki sauce, and a side of fries ($8.50). He had the option of substituting the fries for a cup of soup, chips, or fruit, but he didn’t. (I wasn’t surprised.)

I splurged and got the Greek Combo, wanting to try a bit of everything ($15). It came with pastitsio (lasagna-like baked pasta with meat and cheese), moussaka (layered eggplant dish with potatoes, ground sirloin, cheese, and béchamel sauce), gyro meat, and dolmathakia (grape leaves stuffed with ground sirloin and rice). I also had the option of a salad or soup. I chose tomato bisque.

To split, we got hummus and whipped feta spreads, which came with sliced pita ($7), and a basket of bread was served at the table, complimentary.

I’m a sucker for good bread, if you haven’t guessed by now, and Acropolis Grill certainly satisfied. The basket came with two types: a whole grain wheat and a celebration bread. It also came with cinnamon honey butter, which always makes me excited. The whole grain wheat was very good, but the celebration bread was outstanding. It was sweet, soft, and delicious. I found myself wondering if they’d let me buy it by the loaf to take home.

As for our appetizer, you might expect at a Mediterranean restaurant for the hummus to blow your mind, and I’m not saying it wasn’t great, because it was, but it just tasted like normal hummus I might make at home. The real treat in my opinion was the whipped feta spread, something I have never tried before and am now officially in love with.

The truth is, though, that as much as we liked our appetizer, Lionel and I found ourselves a bit jealous when we saw other customers getting the Saganaki ($7). This is a thick slice of Kasseri Greek cheese which is seasoned and seared and then set on fire at your table! Everyone is supposed to yell, “Ooopah!” and the whole thing just looked like a lot of fun.

When our food arrived, we were both a bit surprised at the portions. For less than $9, Lionel’s gyro and fries was a pretty large meal. He said the fries were inconsistent—some undercooked, some overcooked—but he appreciated that they were well-seasoned and came with sea salt. His gyro was great, stuffed to the brim and full of fresh vegetables.

My combo plate was fantastic. The tomato bisque had a slightly spicy kick and was a wonderful, thick, pureed texture. Though I prefer dolmades cold and meatless, the dolmathakia was delicious, as was the moussaka and pastitsio. (The béchamel sauce really made both the baked dishes for me.) My favorite part, however, was the gyro meat and tzatziki sauce. It was tender and juicy. I was shocked at the large portion size.

My only real problem is that I wasn’t prepared. We’d arrived and I was so excited about the desserts. The internet hive-mind seemed to think we should get the baklava cheesecake. Our waitress said the strawberry cake was to die for. And I’d seen some chocolate creations when I’d walked in that were just shouting my name.

Yet there we were, both absolutely stuffed. I had to box up half my meal, and we hadn’t even finished our bread.

Disappointed in ourselves, we chatted with our waitress a bit before we left. She’d done her best to be attentive and accommodating, even though the place was packed.

She told us a bit of the history of the restaurant, and I learned a bit more before we left, noting some pictures and memorabilia hanging on the wall near the entrance.

The original owner, Teddy Kyriakidis, arrived in America from Greece in 1951. He owned and worked in restaurants in New Jersey and New York City before moving with his family to Chattanooga in 1982. That’s where he started Little Athens, an affordable comfort-food restaurant in East Ridge, which stayed in business for over 13 years.

Wanting to bring some Greek flavor to our city, he and his family opened Acropolis in 1995, and it has been family-run for over twenty years. The restaurant had a renovation about three years ago and continues to partner with local farmers and suppliers for its fresh produce.

Before we walked out the door, Lionel and I paused, staring longingly at the display case of desserts in regret. In a modest gesture of effort, we each picked out a cookie ($.60). The baklava cookie was absolutely to die for.

Next time I’ll be getting an appetizer of cheese to have set on fire at my table, and I’ll order my dessert before my dinner, just to make sure I don’t miss out. Lesson learned, Acropolis, lesson learned.

Location: 2213 Hamilton Place Blvd., Chattanooga, Tn 37421

Hours: Sun – Th 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

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