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Restaurant review: Eros World Tapas Bar

Guilty pleasure fills the former Piebar location

Meet Eros: primordial Greek god of lust, beauty, love and intercourse; fertility deity, son of Aphrodite; and Atlanta tapas bar. Just in case you missed the connotations of the name, type "Eros Atlanta" into Google. First, you'll get the restaurant. Second, you'll get a guide to Atlanta escort services. 

In tapas bar form, Eros exists in the old Piebar location, that space-age structure built in 1962 for Trust Co. Bank. The building now sports as its main interior design elements large black-and-white photos of the nether regions of naked women (curiously sporting thong tan lines), and phallic-shaped colored lights languidly pointing toward those nether regions. Get it? God of intercourse? Helloooo?

A club atmosphere and “world tapas" are what's offered beneath these bottoms. The club vibe includes special events such as South Beach night, which I was lucky enough to enjoy one recent Tuesday evening. “What does South Beach night mean?” I asked the waitress.

“Um … nothing really,” she replied. “They play hip-hop and stuff.”

And they most certainly did, very, very loudly, which I guess some establishments in South Beach do as well. I wonder if in Miami they call it “Atlanta night."

As for the worldly tapas, Eros’ menu would have me believe that these dishes are as confused as the geographic specificity of the restaurant’s special events. Tapas hail from Greece (where owner George Karameros also hails from), Italy, Britain, South Africa, Mexico, Spain and America. It’s practically impossible to assemble anything like a balanced meal here, as many dishes are fried and there’s a deficit in the vegetable department. And because of the wild, far-flung nature of the food’s origins, the plates rarely complement each other. But for the most part, my complaining stops there, because, individually, the tapas have an almost out-of-place, straightforward appeal.

Tiny, tender baby octopus arrives hot and draped in onions, with a lemon wedge that, once administered, gives the dish a bold, classic Greek flavor. The chopsticks that arrive along with the dish are confusing, though, especially since they can't be used to eat crostini (also provided). But whatever — I’ll take another order, please.

A crazy addition to the food-on-a-stick genre is Eros’ chorizo lollipop, which pairs the Spanish sausage with sticky dates and blue cheese, the whole thing wrapped in bacon. Sweetness and grease collide, creamy makes an appearance and surrenders to salty, spicy, gooey abandon. Ooh, yeah baby.

Meatballs, bathed in a bright marinara, taste pleasingly mellow and hearty. A fairly standard ceviche is nonetheless spiced right, its shrimp and calamari rings shot through with lime and cilantro and a hint of jalapeño. When the fried Spanish potatoes arrived, dusted in paprika and served with a small bowl of spicy mayo-type glop, I started to realize just how mismatched these dishes are. But who can argue with fried potatoes?

Out-and-out failures on the menu include crab and corn fritters, which exhibited a disconcerting melding of fishy and creamy that the ever-present side of spicy mayo goop did nothing to mitigate. A chicken-and-phyllo pie served in place of the usual spinach and feta was strangely dry and bland. Fried balls of goat cheese drizzled with honey are too hulking to benefit from the fry — the centers remain cold and that amount of cheese is hard to get down.

As for the cocktails, well, there’s nary a beverage on the list that doesn’t involve some sort of fruity schnapps or liqueur. Apart from a “hot and dirty” martini, which pairs gin with olive juice and hot sauce and tastes like sterilized dish water, the majority of the drinks are exactly the kind of sugary overkill you’d expect from a place decorated with naked chicks. The preciseness of much of the food had me hoping for better.
Despite the giant-bum-with-thong-tan photos on the walls, the room and building hold an immense amount of appeal, from the moment you step out of your car at the valet and walk up the gently sloping walkway into the flying-saucer shaped structure, on through the huge spherical room with its arches and drapery, and out onto the balconies that cascade like lily pads one might hop happily down if one were a giant frog.

Regardless of its frippery, I have to admit there’s something titillating about Eros, a kind of bawdy fun that’s hard to resist, even if you really (really) want to.  

As I gathered fluorescent orange, hot sauce-drenched buffalo crab claws up into my mouth one evening using thick, blue-cheese laden potato chips as a makeshift shovel, it dawned on me: There’s a certain kind of rudimentary pleasure to be had here, but eroticism this ain’t. Eros is pure porn.