Greek cuisine at Acropolis - Le Meridien Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

The Acropolis in Greece is perhaps the symbol of ancient Greece that serves as a reminder of the influence that this country had on the world. It is appropriate that Le Meridien in Abu Dhabi chose to name the only authentic and wholly Greek restaurant in the city after this former citadel.

Having recently been at the opening of Acropolis and joined in the smashing of plates, I was quite animated about my return visit to sample the menu. The walk to the restaurant is a lovely one, notwithstanding the refurbishment that is going on at the koi pond. The garden village is quite lively with al fresco dining taking shape as the weather cools down. As I walk, I see the resident band setting up. A lively area is about to get even livelier. Nice.

Just like home with captivating murals in the background. 

Acropolis is very Greek, even from the outside. Pristine white walls with the name Acropolis in blue looking ever so inviting. Despite the lure of the terrace, we decide to go inside. As the door is opened, I hear a couple of waiters shout out, "'Kalisperia", meaning something akin to 'Good evening'.  I like it immediately. Rather than the usual hostess standing at the door to greet you in an often  staid manner, this shout out has something really welcoming about it.

Someone walks over to us and shows us our table. The blue and white motif continues with the tables and chairs. The almost kitchen-like choice of furniture tells me in a heartbeat that I can expect a very homely atmosphere. This is completed by the white and blue checkered table cloths.  Light fixtures recall Apollo, the Greek God of the sun. But my attention is grabbed by two mural renderings of Santorini and Symi.  Glorious and evocative.
Images of Santorini and Symi amongst others. 
Menus are on all the tables. I pick up one and go through it. Simple. I see all the Greek classics. Looking further afield, I cast an eye on the drinks menu and see a modest selection of wines and bubbly options - I like it. Acropolis has a taverna concept, as evidenced by the low ceilings, so the last thing I want is a menu with way too many options that makes the evening cumbersome. I order a bottle of Prosecco Valdobbiadene Varaschin. In the meantime, a  selection of Mezzedakia (mezze) has been suggested and I am happy to follow the recommendations.

A manager with a very hands-on approach. I like it.

Our mezze includes Greek staples such as Spitiko tzatziki, Spanakopita, Kalamari Gemisto and Souzoukakia. The tzatziki is what you want from this dish with the Greek yoghurt enjoying a  perfect balance between the use of cucumber and garlic. Freshness is the impression I have as I try it. Next, the Souzoukakia (meatballs in tomato sauce) is an immediate hit with my daughter, and we order two servings. While we munch away on the mezze, there is a constant streaming of Greek guests. This is the sign that tells me that Acropolis is getting it right.

The mezze is unbelievably priced - fantastic value. 
Cutting the  calamari
Delicious Stuffed red peppers.
Finally, the Kalamari gemisto turns out to be my favourite. It is sliced at the table and this brings a bit of theater to the occasion. The calamari has that grilled taste as I bite into it. Yum. The oregano makes it taste even better. It is during this dish that  a key strength of Acropolis is revealed - the staff. The restaurant manager describes how the calamari dish is the dish he wants most when he returns to Greece. Made by his mother of course. I can see where the restaurant gets its inspiration from. Staff are not robots here. Real people.
Veal on the bone. 

For my main I am served the Moscharisia mprizola galaktos (veal). I am warned in advance though, that since it is served on the bone, I should expect a bit of toughness near the bone, but that the heart of the veal should be superb. That is exactly my impressions. At 250g it is quite a substantial piece of meat. I find the heart with the tenderness that I am looking for. I am curious in the end, though, why they went with veal on the bone.

I have a simple Chilean Alvinde Cabernet Sauvignon.  I like that it is served in a  tavern type glass - not a wine glass, more like a tumbler. Nice.

I round off dinner with Karidopita (walnutpie served with pine tree ice cream) and  a fruit platter oddly called  Fruit salad. Uncomplicated, and a good way to bid adieu to the evening at Acropolis.

Simple pleasures - the fruit platter for dessert
Acropolis has made a very strong debut on the Abu Dhabi dining scene. It has fitted so effortlessly into the garden village subculture at Le Meridien. I imagine as the nights become even cooler, they will have to add more tables. Service is attentive but not at all suffocating. I found this refreshing because there is a tendency by staff to try and do too much when a restaurant has just opened. There is something very natural and easy going about the service here. The casual, roll up your sleeves atmosphere that the restaurant aims to create works.  In a short space of time Acropolis has come to know what it wants - knows who it is targeting and staff understand that philosophy. In the manager, Acropolis has someone who is interested in his guests and appreciates every customer, a concept that is not all Greek to him - it too comes naturally. Check it out. Definitely.

The low down

Le Meriden Hotel
02 644 6666

Salads 60 Dhs

Mezze 18 Dhs
Mains 60-145 Dhs
Dessert 30-45 Dhs

                                                                                         Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520
Brandon Stoltenkamp