Chapel Hill, N.C. — I made a reservation recently for Kipos restaurant. It was my first time, and also I am gluten-free, so I was a bit nervous. They answered all of my questions, patiently, and thoroughly over the phone, read off a list of what was gluten-free and what to avoid based on the menu for my reservation time, and generally set me at ease.
Location: They are in a prime spot in Chapel Hill on the main thoroughfare, at 431 W. Franklin Street. Parking depends on the time of day and lots available. Getting there on Franklin Street is an easy walk from most parking areas and there is street parking available.
The welcome: I arrived a bit late, but there was a table for me. The service was very attentive, with two of the staff and the Front of House manager checking on me periodically to assist with menu selections. They provided a written list just to make sure I could match things up easily as the options were fairly numerous, and it took me a while to decide what I really wanted.
The food: Coming from a wealth of experience and background, and already having critical acclaim, I had high expectations of Kipos. The menu goes beyond ‘traditional’ Greek restaurant style to include family dishes the average consumer does not get a peek at. It definitely works.
Apps ($4-10 or $15) sharing platter: Meze and Mezedes are wonderful starters that usually come with bread that is house-made. But some may also be available with vegetables for dipping.
I was chilly, so I ordered the Apple Cider to drink hot first which suited perfectly.
Soup ($5): Next I had the Avgolemono Soup, or Lemon (and Chicken) soup, which is made with rice and has a piquant lemon flavor. It was nice and comforting. Avgolemono is one of my favorite Greek soups to try and this did not disappoint.
Lamb Paidakia ($26): I held onto the menu for a bit still working on my decision for an entrée and finally decided on the lamb chops or Lamb Paidakia, which were tenderly chargrilled and included their potatoes and Briam, which are Greek Roasted Vegetables (including zucchini and fresh tomatoes). The flavor was incredible, and the dish had a nurturing and substantive feel to it. Vegetarians might like to try the Kipos Atzem, Baked Eggplant, or Briam as a heartier dish.
Red wine ($7-10 by the glass): I’d ordered a strong Xinomavro/Cab blend tannic red wine to go with this, which mellowed on the palate with the richness and smoky flavors of the chargrilled lamb. Others to try might also be the balanced Agiorghitiko/Cabernet blends available.
Atmosphere: Kipos was festive and lively. There was a belly dancer who balanced a sword on her head, live lute music and the famous dancing circle, which was fun to join.
Dessert ($4-6): There are a number of desserts to try, from the classic Greek desserts to chocolate mousse.
Price was $40-45 overall. This is not an everyday kind of meal, but a wonderful treat, and novel experience. Patrons were dancing early!