Acropolis

The Greeks loved to compile lists of the marvellous structures of the world. Although Acropolis at Le Méridien is modestly bedecked with checked tablecloths and fuzzy lighting, the food is certainly a wonder to behold. The menu is compact but manages to cram in dozens of delicious ingredients imported straight from Greece, fresh and authentic, such as karidopita — walnut pie served with pine tree ice cream — and gemista — peppers, tomatoes and courgette stuffed with aromatic rice and fresh vegetables. Both the blue and white tavern setting and the menu are characterful and entertaining. The mistiko piato or "Ëœchef's secret' has to be discovered from Chef Kostas, a figure with decades of experience in Crete and Athens who prefers to source his fish and grill fresh from local markets. The waiting staff are charming, funny and attentive as we plump for an array of mezzedakia or mezze to start. This is seriously good value for money; oodles of food, bursting with flavour, and only Dhs18 apiece. Fat rings of kalamari gemisto, grilled octopus stuffed with feta cheese and vegetables, are a touch too salty for our palate but we lick the plate clean regardless. Next up is the kolokithokeftedes, crispy zucchini patties with mint and yoghurt, and Chef Kostas' special spanakopita — Greek filo with spinach and feta cheese, which are nothing short of sublime. We are delighted that Acropolis manages to conjure light and airy, crispy golden pastry. Usually, Greek combinations are prone to soggy pastry when stuffed with wet feta cheese, but not here. The restaurant is nearly full with a warm and cheery atmosphere as we order kyrios piato, the main courses. The Ya Ya's moussaka, eggplant prepared in the oven with mincemeat, bechamel sauce and gratinated with cheese tastes like sunshine and we wish the helping was slightly bigger to account for our greed. The mincemeat is warm, spicy and has as depth of flavour that takes us by surprise. Our waiter tells us that the dishes name is actually derived from Arabic — a nice touch that conveys the staff's pride in the food. The makaronada thalassinon — seafood spaghetti with prawns, clams and mussels — completes the most satisfying meal we've had in Abu Dhabi to date. This dish is a little sticky and rich, but the freshness of the seafood transports us to an ancient fishing village. The bill (for two) Kalamari gemisto Dhs18 Kolokithokeftedes Dhs 18 Chef Kostas' spanakopita Dhs18 Ya Ya's moussaka Dhs70 Makaronada thalassinon Dhs95 Total (excl. service) Dhs219

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