In the old New Moon location on Broad Street, Eros Bistro tantalized me for weeks, thanks to a brightly lit glass tree right in its front window that caught my eye every time I drove downtown in the evenings.
Though I don’t usually think of Greek-Italian food being romantic, with a name such as Eros, I wanted to give it a try for a recent date night with my husband.
The interior of the restaurant has been completely updated. Gone are the hippie vibes and midnight blue walls of New Moon; instead, Eros features exposed brick with an accent wall in salmon, bright sconces, elegant dark wood chairs and white-covered tables.
A small wood bar at the back of the restaurant was glossily polished, yet forlorn – although the restaurant opened in December, they were still awaiting their liquor license. But, it didn’t stop the crowds. On this Friday evening, nearly every table was filled with couples like us, in addition to chattering families.
Sean and I took a seat near the back, where a sconce overhead cast a pool of bright light onto the table. On the table itself was a square glass vase filled with water, and floating on top, a lemon. It was fragrant, and our server explained that it represents Eros’ commitment to fresh ingredients.
As we scanned the menu, we cast jealous glances to our right, where the couple next to us was digging into a brightly colored eggplant parmesan. But first things first – we decided to amp up the heat with a unique appetizer, the saganaki – or as I liked to call it, “cheese on fire.”
Sean also went for the aforementioned eggplant parm, while I decided to go Greek with the classic pastitsio – and with Greek salads on the side.
The full Greek-Italian menu offers a wealth of familiar and surprising dishes.
Appetizers range from fried cheeses and calamari to dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (phyllo with a filling of spinach and feta cheese) and bruschetta (Italian bread topped with chopped tomatoes, cheese and garlic).
There are the usual Caesar and garden salads, along with a chicken Caesar pasta salad; seven spaghetti dishes (served traditional or baked); Greek meat platters; Italian baked pastas; six Alfredo pastas; along with specialty sandwiches such as the Greek burger with feta cheese, subs and, of course, a gyro.
Desserts also offer the best of both worlds, with Greek baklava and galaktobouriko (custard between layers of phyllo, soaked in sweet syrup) and Italian tiramisu and cannoli. Families will also appreciate a solid kids’ menu with spaghetti and raviolis, plus the prerequisite fried chicken with fries.
Our cheese appetizer arrived quickly. With a dramatic flourish, our server held the platter aloft in one hand, poured over a shot of alcohol and quickly lit it. The flames went up nearly a foot high, and he doused the cheese immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Laid at the table, the oblong cheese (as large as two hands) was heavily crusted with fried crumbs and served with triangles of seasoned pita. The first bite was tart with lemon, highly seasoned, ending with the slightly firm and chewy cheese. With the bread, it made for a very large and heavy appetizer – probably better suited to a table of four than a table of two. But in terms of drama, it couldn’t be bettered.
When our salads arrived, Sean pointed out that the lettuce wasn’t just iceberg but also included romaine – always a plus in his book. It was crisp and fresh, served with a handful of feta, a couple of olives, a cucumber slice, a tomato wedge and a pepperoncini.
The heavily olive-oil based Greek dressing – served on the side – was fragrantly spiced.
After just those two courses, we agreed that they were more than enough for a filling meal. But then our tempting entrees arrived. Sean’s eggplant parmesan was delicious – breaded and crisply fried eggplant with a savory tomato sauce, on top of a bed of spaghetti.
My pastitsio was total creamy comfort food – layers of pasta and meat baked in a creamy béchamel sauce, prettily sprinkled with chopped green herbs. A touch more nutmeg in the sauce – and a bit more salt – would have made it perfection.
Needless to say, our server definitely had to bring a couple of to-go containers for us that evening (we had enough leftovers for two lunches apiece!) – and we had to regretfully decline even the thought of dessert.
As we paid our bill (note that an 18 percent gratuity is added to all bills), our server also mentioned that the Augusta Tango Club, which used to perform regularly at the now-closed Casablanca, would be bringing its passion and drama to Eros on a regular basis. On its Facebook page, Eros also mentions upcoming jazz performances.
Though the restaurant might not immediately come to mind for a romantic dinner out, I do believe the best love affairs combine drama with comfort. Eros Bistro definitely scores on both those fronts.
ON THE MENU
WHERE: Eros Bistro, 1002 Broad St.
HOURS: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m -10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
SECOND HELPING: (706) 723-9650, erosbistro.com or find them on Facebook