Cape Fear Foodie: Kipos Hellenic Cuisine
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - With the summer tourist season winding down as we head towards Labor Day weekend, it occurred to me that I have not taken a vacation this summer. Some little trips here and there have been fun, but no grand travel experience. No flights to the Gulf, no jaunts to California, no bucket-list visit to Greece. Though I did get to the enjoy the next best thing to that historic nation...Kipos Hellenic Cuisine.
The creation of Giorgios Bakatsias, who also owns the popular Kipos Greek Taverna in Chapel Hill, Kipos offers a wide range of Greek classics with a focus on local seafood. The Mediterranean diet is already heavily based on offerings from the sea, and this new Kipos location will certainly take advantage of that.
Upon entering the restaurant in Lumina Station, you’re immediately in awe of the décor, with fascinating light fixtures, a mixture of art and pictures, and tasteful table settings, it all portrays the comfort of eating at a friend’s home (if the friend had immaculate interior design skills). It’s a very welcoming space both inside and out. I was invited as part of a nearly week-long soft opening, and given the choice of seating, my friend and I opted for a table on the patio.
It’s a romantic setting, with the age-old oak trees in the yard, traditional Greek music softly playing, and beautiful table lights that you can control the light setting (I had to mention the lights, they are that neat and great for taking pictures of your food).
Our waiter laid out our forthcoming culinary journey, with a four-course meal focused on a particular region of Greece...this night was Santorini and the surrounding southern isles.
We started with a Savatiano wine from Central Greece (similar to a Sauvignon Blanc), which went well with the first round of cold meze (small plate).
A Greek salad with fresh greens, a citrus-forward vinaigrette, fresh bread from Wilmington Bread Co., imported Kalamata olives, with “fava” (hummus style spread) and a roasted eggplant spread served with fresh pita bread. Everything had a very clean taste, paired well with the wine, and a nice way to get the evening going.
Next was the hot meze, with seasoned beef meatballs and housemade tzatziki, accompanied by thin & crispy fried zucchini chips and green goddess dressing. If given the option, I would have just kept asking for this course over, and over again, it was that good.
Before we moved onto our main dish, we decided to try one of Kipos’ “signature craft cocktails.” The “Ares Respite” caught our eye, a mezcal-based drink with Campari, grapefruit, lemon and a sprig of rosemary. An interesting concoction of smoke, bitterness and citrus. Kipos also has a fully stocked bar so you can opt for your favorite cocktail.
For our entrée round, Chef George Delidimos pulled out all the stops with two tantalizing dishes. First, braised chicken in a rich tomato sauce served with green beans. The chicken falls off the bone, and the sauce has the consistency of a stew...I could drink it with a straw.
Next was grilled Ahi tuna, seasoned to perfection, with a Kalamata crema and side salad. The tuna melts in your mouth, and the olive sauce offers that delicate savory punch. Both are really special dishes.
By now the sun had gone down, the wine was flowing, with those awesome table lights casting a romantic glow over the table. The only thing missing were the seaside homes, painted white with beautiful blue accents nestled along the Aegean Sea. I will settle for the Atlantic coast, but what better setting for dessert? The friendly wait staff brought us a chocolate, olive oil and sea salt mousse, paired with “Revani” (a semolina cake with almonds and fresh berries). The sea salt took the mousse to another level, while the tell-tale almond flavor of the cake was delightful.
While only a soft-opening, the restaurant is going through what works and what doesn’t. However a quick glance at the full menu, and there are plenty of small plates, salads, seafood, chicken, and steak options along with traditional Greek dishes like Moussaka and Spanakopita. They are even working on opening a complete raw bar inside as well. To be sure, this is elevated Greek cuisine, and that comes with a higher price point than your typical gyros and hummus bowls. While I haven’t seen a full menu with prices, glasses of wine are around $14-$17 and entrees in the $20-$30 range.
That being said, the food and wine menu are extensive, and could easily command their own article, and I look forward to returning in the near future (official opening August 27) with a more complete review. However, based on my initial impressions, I can see Kipos becoming a very popular restaurant for locals and tourists alike, and a great spot when you want to experience exceptional international cuisine, without ever leaving town.
IF YOU GO:
Kipos Hellenic Cuisine is located at 1900 Eastwood Rd Suite #2, Wilmington, NC 28403
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