As sports bar restaurants go, the dining experience at The Arena at the Acropolis is a winning combination of fine food in an immersive atmosphere. The eatery, found in the upper-level Acropolis gaming lounge at the Barbican Centre, is colourfully alive with multiple flat-screen televisions screening soccer, golf and basketball games and ESPN's Sports Centre, sporting paraphernalia adorning the walls, and the national flags of several countries hanging from its ceilings.
The Arena is the sole full-service restaurant operated under the Supreme Ventures-owned Acropolis brand, which has other locations in Portmore, May Pen and a new outlet launched just last week in Cross Roads. "Fridays are high-traffic days at The Arena," discloses Ann Taylor, manager of The Acropolis. "We have a constant turnover over of patrons, from people who come after work to those who go home first and come back out to have fun."
On this Friday evening, pockets of after-work groups are gathered at tables across the room's span. They are engrossed in conversation, laughing and chatting at high decibel levels over beer and cocktail mixes, with several awaiting their orders for meals.
With a recently revamped menu, Taylor says the emphasis is now on "a variety of simpler meals in keeping with the sports bar theme. The portion sizes are excellent and the patrons have provided positive feedback."
The Arena's menu features an eclectic mix of courses that run the gamut from such appetisers as tortillas and quesadillas served with cheddar sauces and guacamole, to chicken or shrimp roti wraps. Also available are what Taylor considers "among the best burgers in town": Hawaiian burgers with pineapple slices and Cheddar cheese and the Cheesehead Jerk burger made with pepperjack cheese, 911 hot sauce and sliced jalapenos. We're told that the pastas — in shrimp and chunky chicken alfredo that brings Italy to mind with each bite — and the salads are a hit with diners, as are the variety of sub sandwiches. Desserts, billed as "Touchdown" on the menu are few, but decadent nonetheless. There's the moist and scrumptious MVP Red Velvet Cake and Wimbledon chocolate cake and the Cleveland brownie served with vanilla ice cream.
Steve Braham, a heavy equipment contractor, who is halfway through eating his shrimp quesadilla by the bar, tells Thursday Food he's a regular. "The menu has gotten really good," he enthuses between bites of his meal. "I love the ambiance and enjoy hanging out with friends here," Braham adds.
Social fraternising is near second nature at The Arena, and with the weekend kick starting with its Friday happy hour that runs from 5 to 8 pm, Taylor says the eatery's predominant 25-to-45-year-old demographic enjoy not only Heineken and Red Stripe beer but signature cocktail mixes with names like Casino Royale (a martini mix) and Blue Lemonade whipped up by creative in-house bartenders.
Moderate price points and an attentive staff that deliver service with a smile help make The Arena a worthwhile dining option. Why not consider making The Arena your next eating-out destination?
* The Acropolis Gaming and Entertainment Centre recently added location #4 at the State Mall in Cross Roads to its slate of outlets. While the new location does not offer a full-service, dine-in restaurant like The Arena, it boasts a bar to serve up refreshing cocktail mixes.