Well-loved Acropolis has new look, same great food
My first experience with Greek food was in the early-to-mid-’80s at a small, local, family-run Greek restaurant called “Little Athens.” This was during a period when I was experimenting with different cuisines as well as a tragic array of big hair techniques and the tensile strength of skintight spandex. Like so much about that era, parts of my visits to Little Athens remain a bit foggy, but I will never forget the experience of stumbling through my first attempts to enunciate the words spanakopita and moussaka or my first taste of those beautifully delicious Greek dishes prepared and served by the Kyriakidis family.
Today, many things have changed. My hair is no longer big and my pants are no longer tight, but the same family that introduced me and so many Chattanoogans to the joys of Greek food are still on a Mediterranean food mission. Little Athens moved to Hamilton Place Blvd. in 1995 and changed its name to The Acropolis Grill, but the Kyriakidis family is still reimagining and revisiting what Greek food can be without sacrificing the classic tastes we all know and love.
Greek food has always been about fresh, local and healthy ingredients, which speaks directly to the current, renewed interest in fresh, local food. “Greeks have always had a strong connection to our food,” says Nick Kyriakidis, “We want people to see, taste and celebrate how fresh, delicious and healthy Greek food is. We’re Greek and nobody celebrates like the Greeks.”
If you’re a longtime fan of the Acropolis Grill, the main menu still offers a wide array of dishes, both classic Greek and those influenced by the broader Mediterranean region. For the carnivores, beef, pork, lamb and chicken are well represented in chop, kebab, steak and burger form. The carbivores have a tempting assortment of pastas and parmesans (including the Ravioli La Creama covered in decadent smoked Gouda Alfredo). For anyone and everyone there are seafood, salads, sandwiches, soups and, because this is the South, there’s even some buttermilk-fried chicken and sirloin pot roast.
The Kyriakidises recently renovated the Acropolis’ dining room for a fresher and more open feel that welcomes you as you walk in the door. The bakery case is still there, serving as a source of temptation with its resplendent cakes, pies and various pastries that call out to you as you enter and leave the restaurant like sugary sirens of sweets. I appreciate a well-decorated dining room as well as the next guy, but the food is always my raison de visiter and the Acropolis’ rotating specials menu has been getting a lot of my attention on my recent visites.
This past week I dropped into the Acropolis for dinner and the specials menu sent me into a fit of indecision. While the Lamb Sliders with tzatziki, spring greens and tomato and the Duck Leg “Pot Roast” with roasted red potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts were very tempting, I decided to try the Greek Nachos and Stuffed Pickett’s Farm Trout.
Nick explains that the Acropolis’ Greek Nachos were born out of an idea to “take something that’s comforting, like nachos, and give it a Greek twist.” House-made potato chips are covered with tangy Greek feta cheese, mozzarella, briny Kalamata olives, a seriously delicious house-made smoked tomato salsa, tzatziki, pesto, relish and shaved gyro meat. The Acropolis is one of only two or three restaurants in town that uses an actual Gyro Machine (vertical broiler) and it shows in the quality and freshness of their gyro meat. Every ingredient in these nachos is house made and you can taste the freshness and quality of the ingredients in every bite.
I could have easily made a meal out of the nachos alone, but I stopped myself to save room for the Stuffed Pickett’s Farm Trout, which was a wise decision. A light, but slightly rich, shrimp and crab stuffing is nestled between both filets of a freshly cleaned Pickett’s trout and topped with a citrusy, blood orange beurre blanc. The trout was perfectly cooked, soft and almost buttery, set against the crisp flavors of the crab and shrimp, with the citrusy tang from the beurre blanc rounding out the flavors.
As I finished my draft beverage I thought about the thousands of meals the Acropolis has served over the years and how many more meals there are to come. With the Kyriakidis family’s dedication to fresh, balanced, local and most importantly, delicious food, there is no doubt that Chattanooga will be enjoying their Greek delights for many more years to come.
The Acropolis Grill, 2213 Hamilton Place Blvd. (423) 899-5341, acropolisgrill.net