By JACK WEATHERLY
Alex Eaton says the cuisine at his Manship Wood-Fired Kitchen, opened in October 2013, is “Mediterranean with Southern roots.”
The latest restaurant opened Aug. 6 by Eaton and business partner Steven O’Neill is simply Mediterranean.
The name of the restaurant, Aplós, is Greek for “simple.”
That’s because of a distillation of all those cultural influences, says Eaton, whose new restaurant opens onto the Highland Village courtyard, where there is extra seating beneath umbrellas.
“I’m half Lebanese, but when I did my ancestry it was Lebanese, Italian and Greek,” said Eaton, 33. “So that’s what this is.”
But developing the Aplós menu wasn’t as he traveled to Lebanon, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
“My mother is an Iupe,” a family with many members in the area. His great-grandfather immigrated at the turn of the century, set up a fruit stand on Farish Street and later a restaurant, said Eaton, whose father, Emmett Eaton, is of Scots-Irish descent.
O’Neill manages the beverage side of the two eateries. The Manship has 700 whiskeys, and more than 1,000 spirits total. “That’s my baby,” O’Neill said. He winnowed down the drinks to “the essentials” – a short wine list, limited liquor (three cocktails) and beer.
Aplós is “fast fine dining” as distinguished from fast casual, Eaton said. After the order is placed at the counter, “everything from that point on should be at an elevated standard.”
The millennials are the core target group for the restaurant. Those folks want it fast. So you order at the counter and pay there. The register is set up for quick delivery, and with suggested tips. The average age, including Boomers like us, probably raised the average to Gen X Tuesday night.
Unlike The Manship, Aplós doesn’t have a wood-fired oven. But it does have a rotisserie.
Chicken, pork or lamb are cooked on it and served in a wrap, and there is also a vegan version.
In addition to the wraps, there are five salads, and one dessert, frozen Greek yogurt. There are also five appetizers and five pizzas. There is also an app for takeouts.
We were on a meatless fast, so Jill ordered a vegan pizza. All are 12 inches in diameter and this one costs $8. They came out on a raised rack to save space on the tables, which, for a two-seater, can get crowded. Smart.
For an appetizer, we shared an order of humus and warm pita bread, which were scrumptious. With the humus and salads on the table, we told our waitress that we would like to have our drinks. Hers, Zoe white ($7) and mine, Mythos beer ($5).
I usually order a couple of beers or glasses of wine with a meal. But what would I do? Go back to the counter and order another? Get the waitress to re-ring the ticket?
Not on this night. The place was slammed and it had only been open a week.
Our Greek salads ($3 each) came out and we crunched through the crisp, chopped tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, pickled onion, and sliced kalamata olive, all doused in red wine vinaigrette.
We were decimating the humus when Jill started raving about the pizza. Leave the pita and pick up the slice, she urged me.
I could have sworn there were shrimp on the pizza, but, no, I was hallucinating. It was roasted cauliflower.
Steven took a couple of minutes in the maelstrom and instructed us on the finer points of pizza crust, which he said Alex took a course at the San Francisco Baking Institute. The City by the Bay has long been known for its bread, starting with sourdough during the Gold Rush.
I stuck to my fast and ordered a lamb wrap ($9).
What? Don’t you recall from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? Lamb is not meat, especially this lamb.
Let’s finish with the décor. It’s white. As you would expect. The hammered metal on the tops of the long tables suggests the Old World, and the tile on a section of the floor is reminiscent of Morocco.
The inside seating capacity is 60 and the outside is 25, strictly speaking.
This night, however, the customers were spilling beyond the umbrellas out into the courtyard with similarly styled seating areas. With fountains and children, it had the ambiance of a small Mediterranean plaza.
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal staff writer Jack Weatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1016.
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