Visiting Chapel Hill, North Carolina is one of my favorite trips. For one thing, my Husband’s family is there and for another I love the food scene. Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham have grown into one of the best food scenes in the country over the last decade. If you can find an excuse to visit, I highly recommend it. Weeks before we flew into town we were told that we would be eating at Kipos (Greek for garden). Owned by Greek chef extraordinaire George Bakatsias, Kipos has the true feel and menu of a real taverna in a clean quaint setting. As you enter Kipos you are welcomed with the smell of home baked bread and in the corner a bouzouki player softly plays traditional Greek folk music. The décor is so lovely with a woodsy feel, real table napkins wrapped around your silverware, huge glass ball lights dangling all through the restaurant wrapped with twine. An open kitchen gives the place a home kitchen feel. Soft lighting and the liberal use of candles completes a perfect ambiance.
The full menu is written with the Greek name for each dish (with a translation) and only Greek wine is served. We went for 2 kilos of Kortai Red, Attica (Agioritiko, Syrah). Served in a carafe with little glasses...so Greek, Oh I love this restaurant. We had children with us so of course we ordered the flaming Saganaki finished with lemon. Delicious. The baked homemade bread came in white and kalamata olive which was scarfed down with Greek olive oil and tzatziki (garlic yogurt sauce).
For the table an order of Xoriatiki (a traditional Greek village salad) which was beautifully made with a huge cut of feta, caperberries, tomatoes, onions and peppers. Then came the short ribs with orzo. The meat just fell apart with beautiful nuances of nutmeg and herbs. The salmon came medium rare with lentils and spinach and had a gorgeous smoke flavor too it. The fish Plaki baked with tomato, red wine peppers and onion sauce came with a hiccup because it was supposed to be corvina (a delicate white fish) but instead arrived salmon which did not go with the sauce so it was returned. We tasted the sauce but returned the fish. Credit to Kipos’ staff as they quickly replaced the entrée with a more expensive alternative at the replaced dishes’ price. The true ambrosia at Kipos is the Fisherman Stew Kakavia. Served with calamari, scallops, fish, shrimp in the most aromatic and almost addictive white wine tomato broth. I could eat this stew every day. The roasted chicken and lamb chops were also good but lacked in seasoning.
Kipos has a beautiful vegetarian selection as well and homemade phyllo pies. One simple true test of any Greek restaurant, as my Greek mother in-law and my husband discussed, is spanakoiropita. Kipos surpasses all expectations with a truly mom’s home-made taste, delicious.
The Raleigh=Durham-Chapel Hill area may not be on everyone’s to-do list but if you get the chance to visit or take a weekend away, I highly recommend it for the outdoors hiking, the universities (Duke & UNC) the sheer charm of North Carolina and the restaurant scene. The list is long of local dining spots that are spectacular, and Kipos is a welcome addition. Yassas!