Between multiple jobs or projects in our art career, day jobs, side gigs, chores, and everything else we do all day, time to cook and clean up afterward isn’t always available. And when it is, sometimes the energy just isn’t there. Fast food is always an option, but it’s never as healthy, and never quite as good as a home cooked meal.
Acropolis Restaurant in Utica may be the perfect solution. One quick phone call to place your order and schedule a pickup time, and you’re looking forward to the best home cooked Greek dinner in town, without spending the time and effort to cook.
Each Friday, Acropolis offers a fish fry. At first glance, you wouldn’t think this dish would be anything special. A lot of places offer a fish fry on Fridays. But no place serves a fish fry that’s quite this good. Fish is not a favorite food of mine, but the large slabs of perfectly golden, yet still tender and flaky Haddock seasoned with just a hint of the juice of the lemon that rests on top, and dipped in the little cup of tartar sauce, quickly became the only fish I truly enjoy. Acropolis’ fish is served next to a side of Cole slaw, and resting on top of an order of the best French fries in town.
Those looking for a traditional Greek meal may want to try one of their “neighborhoods” or “plates.”
All I could say when I first tasted the “Lamb Neighborhood” was, “This is the best lamb I ever ate.” The dish consists of one skewer of lamb marinated in olive oil, lemon, and spices, a fresh Greek salad featuring a single stuffed grape leaf as an extra treat, Pita bread, and traditional Greek tzatziki dip. The only reason I didn’t want more is because the portion was so big, I was too full to take another bite of anything.
While the “neighborhood” dishes include a salad along with your main dish and pita bread, the “plates” are served with a side of cooked seasoned vegetables and rice topped with a tangy, slightly spicy tomato sauce. A plate of the rice and vegetables alone is available, and would be worth it just to have their sides. The vegetable are perfectly seasoned, and the sauce and rice is a treat all by itself. I tried the “Gyro Plate,” which includes slices of a gyro loaf made of beef, lamb, and spices. A bit smoother in texture than American meat loaf, this gyro loaf tasted like taking a bite of perfectly spiced lamb and beef gyro at the same time.
When I learned that I am partly of Greek descent a few years ago, I made it my goal to try as much traditional Greek food as I could find, and to locate the best Mousaka and Pastitsio in town. And here it is, at Acropolis.
Mousaka is pretty good anywhere, but Mousaka Acropolis has more eggplant and zucchini, more flavorful ground beef, and creamier behamel sauce than anywhere else. On their menu, Pastitsio is described as “Greek lasagna.” Lasagna has always been a favorite Italian dish of mine, so I especially looked forward to trying this dish. The description is spot-on. The flavor is definitely Greek, with different spices and a creamy bechamel sauce rather than the flavors found in Italian cooking, but it has the same comforting, tender layers of pasta as its Italian counterpart. As an added bonus, both of these dishes are served with Acropolis’ seasoned vegetables and rice.
Acropolis Greek Restaurant is truly the best place in town for those days when working on a project makes it impossible to prepare a home cooked meal, or when you just want to enjoy…or try….an authentic Greek home cooked meal. The meal prices are reasonable, ranging from $9.95 for the aforementioned Rice and Vegetable plate, to $20.50 for a Lamb Souvlaki plate, and $22.75 for a Grilled Lobster Neighborhood. Appetizers are also available, ranging from $5.95 for French Fries to $7.50 for a traditional Spinach or Cheese pie (Spanakopita or Tiropita) to $12.75 for a fried shrimp appetizer. Dessert selections include Greek Wedding Cookies, Rice Pudding, and of course, Baklava.
All prices and dishes were taken from the 1/7/21 edition of the business’ menu, and are not a complete list of the restaurant’s offerings. Visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AcropolisUtica for updated information and a copy of the current menu.
Acropolis is, as of the writing of this piece, open for takeout only, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 4:30p-7:30p. They are located at 621 James street in Utica. Once you check out their menu, place your order by phone at 315-793-1015.
Most of the time, Artist Cafe Utica promotes the cheapest option or item for artists on a budget. Milk and eggs you spent four or five dollars on at Aldi are pretty much the same food as milk and eggs you spend seven or eight dollars on at a more expensive supermarket. You can write lyrics or plot lines or sketch on paper from the Dollar Tree just as well as something you paid ten times as much for in Staples. Sometimes things are cheaper in price because they’re cheaper in quality, but marketing and branding has a lot to do with it.
That cannot be said for coffee. Each brand has its own distinctive flavor, even if you compare coffees of similar roast and origin. Starbucks, Dunkin, Green Mountain, and Folgers all have their own unique taste, and they taste different from off-brand or store brand coffees.
There’s nothing wrong with drinking off brand coffee. I grab a can of dark roast from Aldi whenever I’m low on spending money and just need to toss something in the grocery cart to keep the writing teaching, novels, and blog posts flowing. But good coffee is one thing I do love to splurge on, and the best coffee in Utica is from Utica Coffee Roasting Company.
Traditional Coffee Blends
If you like the taste of nothing but coffee in your coffee, you have to get some of Utica Coffee Roasting Company’s Adirondack Blend or Italian Roast.
Many people do not realize that all coffee, including the blends that just taste like coffee, have notes, and Adirondack is described as nutty, with chocolate notes. I can’t taste nuts or chocolate as I drink the coffee, but there is a light, smooth taste that makes it a perfect morning coffee. Italian Roast is much darker, but still suitable for that morning or afternoon slump cup of coffee.
Great Pumpkin (seasonal)
Skip the overpriced, overly sugary pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks in the fall, and pick up a bag of Utica Coffee Roasters’ pumpkin coffee, Great Pumpkin.
The first thing you taste when you first sip Great Pumpkin flavored coffee is a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg. The smooth pumpkin taste comes a moment later. Add a little half and half or milk, and you have a much less sweet version of every five dollar pumpkin spice drink offered between October 1 and early November. I haven’t tried this yet, but those of you who want the sweetness in those drinks could probably duplicate it by pairing Utica Coffee Roasters Great Pumpkin coffee with store brand or Coffeemate Italian Sweet Cream. The flavor is usually available in sugar free for those who cannot have a lot of sugar.
Chocolate has always been my favorite flavor for everything, but one of my favorite desserts my mother makes has always been a pistachio bundt cake. I also like pistachio pudding. Utica Coffee Roasters Pistachio coffee tastes like a bite of pistachio cake or pudding followed by a drink of rich, smooth coffee.
Even if you’re not a huge pistachio fan, you will probably still like this coffee. The flavor is not overwhelming, and lends a slightly sweet, rich taste to the coffee flavor.
Cravings for cannoli can be satisfied with Utica Coffee Roasters Cannoli coffee. The chocolate chip taste needs to be added with some flavored coffee creamer, but the taste of the pastry and sweetened cheese filling is in your mug as soon as you pour your cup. Utica Coffee Roasting Company Cannoli coffee has become my new favorite treat coffee.
Other roasts are available on the company’s website at www.uticacoffeeroasting.com Current information about the company’s Covid-19 policy, ordering and pickup, and branded merchandise can also be found there.
Utica Coffee Roasting Company is the perfect place/brand for artists looking to fuel another work session..or get through that side job you work just to pay the bills.
This is not a sponsored post. No brands or individuals mentioned in this article support or endorse it in any way. All thoughts and observations are my own.
Artists typically have budgets that are a little more complicated than most people. We have to pay independent artist’s taxes, budget for instruments, paints, lessons, and other supplies, and pay the plain old rent, water, and grocery bills on top of that.
One solution for Utica area artitsts, and anyone else looking for a safe, clean, and quiet neighborhood for a great price is Hillside Garden Apartments. While the rent prices may look a little high on paper, the best thing about the rent at Hillside Gardens is that it is not rent, but an extensive package that includes your rent.
When you rent at Hillside Gardens, your monthly payment covers rent, water/sewer, trash, cable t.v., internet, the rental of a small indoor storage space, and maintenance. Pay that fee, pay your electric bill, and put about $15-$20 on a laundry card each month, and the place is all yours.
The cable and internet add-in is enough to make the place a money saver. A visit to Spectrum’s website advertises cable and internet starting at just under $50 each per month, making that a $100 bonus alone.
But perhaps the biggest money saver here is the excellent maintenance service. Many people do not realize how much money someone who owns their own home has to budget for maintenance each month. A little over two months after I moved in here, in July of 2017, a good part of my new hometown experienced extreme flooding. My place was completely water logged. Getting the place wet/dry vacuumed, checked and sprayed for mold, and the carpet completely replaced did not cost me a penny. It was all covered by the “maintenance” portion of my rent package.
Just this past week, I discovered that my windows were leaking cold air, the light above my kitchen table wore out, and the washing machine backed up and ruined my bathroom rugs. Had that happened at a house I bought, I would be paying for both labor and materials or parts for each of those incidents. Here at Hillside Gardens, this entire series of unfortunate house-related events is going to make me take money for an Uber and the price of two new bathroom rugs out of my general emergency/unexpected fund. That should cost less than $50. I don’t even have a line in my budget for “maintenance,” because I do not need to so much as purchase light bulbs or a snow shovel and salt for this place. Only the basic vacuuming/mopping, dusting, and sanitizing my kitchen and bathroom are my responsibility.
If getting your rent, water, trash service, cable, internet, storage space rental, and the maintenence portion of your budget all in one reasonable bundle isn’t enough, living at Hillside Gardens also gives you seasonal access to a pool. I have a phobia of water and a typical white person with red hair’s complexion, so the pool is not a place I often visit. But if you’re into swimming or tanning, you can deduct the cost of joining a gym just for the pool in the summer, and summer tanning sessions from your budget if you move in here.
Beyond the budget, Hillside Garden Apartments is smoker friendly. Smoking is prohibited in public areas, and tenants are required to ensure that their smoke does not permeate the hallways or make it to the doors of those who do not smoke, but renters are welcome to enjoy cigarettes or cigars inside their own homes. My fiance regularly enjoys a cigar when he stops by in the evenings.
Hillside Garden is also pet friendly. Renters must pay a $5.00 per month rental fee for their pet, only two pets are permitted per address, and there are weight and other restrictions, but you will not be turned away because you have a small or medium sized pet or two. I live here with Callie, our four and a half pound Chorkie. Her favorite things about Hillside Garden Apartments is all the grass to run around on in the summer, spring, and fall, and the large population of squirrels that like to hang around the dumpsters. I carry her over there when I drop off her waste bags, and she thinks every squirrell who runs away after she’s seen it is one she “got.”
If you’re on the hunt for a safe, well-maintained, and welcoming space to live, put Hillside Garden Apartments on the top of your list. Please contact the office directly at 315-737-5976 or visit www.hillsidegardenapts.com for specific information about renting your next home here.