Atmosphere: Pretty but informal Mediterranean setting. Casual attire.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 4 p.m. to 10 P.M. Sunday.
Price range: $4.95 for spaghetti and meat sauce to $14.95 for surf and turf. Most selections in the $6 to $7 range.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Carte Blanche, Diner's Club.
Special facilities: Parking in lot two doors from restaurant; accessible to wheelchairs; booster seats but no highchairs.
The Akropol Restaurant doesn't need a hand from anybody. It already has a successful formula for pleasing suburban Virginians. Justly proud of the nice things local reviewers have said about it, the management has filled its front window with newspaper notices applauding Akropol's authentic Greek food. With a build-up like that, you expect a lot. Not only was our family not disappointed, but we left the Akropol wanting to add our cheers.
The Akropol is in the business district near Lee Highway and Broad Street. It is a pleasant restaurant with two small dining rooms done in a tasteful Mediterranean motif: stucco walls, blond wood furniture and a handsome Blue Greek key logo that decorates tablecloths and menus.
At night, small candles flicker on the tables. Greek music floats softly in the background. The waiter wears a black tie and jacket and renders expert service. The effect is comfortable and welcoming.
Akropol's menu offers a lively choice of Greek specialties, including several that don't usually appear on the menus of other local Greek restaurants. In addition to the usual Greek salad, spinach pie and moussaka, the Akropol has several different lamb dishes; tshipoura, a whole fish broiled with lemon sauce, and octopus with olive oil and lemon.
In addition, traditional American beef and seafood dishes, like beef en brochette and broiled halibut are available, as well as spaghetti and veal parmigiana. Children 12 and under can order house specialties for $2 less than the listed price. Since specialties are all Greek dishes, and our twins were not feeling adventurous, we wound up paying for full-priced dinners for both of them. Akropol could better accommodate children by offering them a small chopped sirloin or spaghetti dinner at a reduced price.
One of our girls ordered veal parmigiana, $5.95; her sister opted for chopped sirloin, $6.25. Our 14-year-old regards family night out as a chance to eat fried shrimp, which she ordered for $7.25. My husband chose a lamb dish from the house specialties, exohikon, $7.95, and I tried everything else -- a Greek combination plate at $8.75.
Our dinners were preceded by light but crusty warm rolls and platters of Greek salad, almost meals in themselves. The entrees were also generous servings of delicious food.
The shrimp and chopped sirloin were great, said our daughters, and the veal parmigiana also was a hit.
The exohikon was a fine combination of lamb cubes and vegetables such as artichokes, mushrooms and peas, baked in a crispy filo crust, but I thought the combination plate most intriguing. It offered a little bit of everything: moussaka, lamb kapema, spinach pie and dolmades, which are grape leaves stuffed with chopped sirloin and rice and bathed in a creamy, light, lemon-egg sauce.
The dolmades were exceptionally good, and lamb kapema a close second. In this dish, baked or braised lamb is topped with a savory tomato sauce and served with rice. It was tender and delicious. The moussaka also was quite good.
Only the spinach pie was disappointing. Freshly made and bursting with filling, it nevertheless needed more seasoning and a flavor of a little onion would have helped.
It was all we could do to finish our generous dinners, and not even our daughters felt capable of confronting dessert. The Akropol offers cheesecake, creme caramel and, of course, baklava, each $1.35. Greek coffee is also available, at $1.25.
Our total tab for five, tax and tip included, was $49.50.