As restaurant week is once again upon us, the number of participating restaurants has continued to escalate each and every year. This is not necessarily a good thing. If the prix-fixe lunch special were an accurate indicator of what a particular chef is all about, then I would make reservations for two weeks straight. More often than not, the limited menu is uninspired. A meaningless salad here, some chicken redux there, berries on top of coulis and hope there was some wine ordered. I understand that this prix-fixe is not going to pay for the daily bread, but isn’t the object to introduce the diner to a chef’s distinct approach so that the customer will return to spend real money at a later date?
I am pleased that my first stop during this promotion was in midtown, where home-cooked elegant Greek food is the star at Anthos. Having been to Onera, the now renamed Kefi, in the past I had already been familiar with Chef Psilakas’ modus operandi.
If only one third of the restaurants could be as proficient at doing such a superlative job of enticing the patron to want more, then restaurant week would be a raving success.
Incidentally, Anthos already promotes a $28.00 lunch daily which resembles that being offered during this promotion. What other high end Greek restaurants set out to do Mr. Psilakis does a bit better, and that is to bring a grandmother’s food with a chef’s touch to the table. Flavors are bright, products are fresh, and appetites grow.
This becomes evident in no time flat. The few choices offered on the prix-fixe menu are enough to fight over. Do not miss out on the grilled octopus, easily the best in the city. The meal could have stopped there, but a lovely keftede of crab and fish updates the Maryland crabcake in fine fashion. And the sheep milk ricotta dumplings, divine.
The main course of branzino was cooked expertly with Mediterranean accents of cherry tomatoes and olives. A risotto with a zing of lemon was a bright bowl of harmonious rice. Desserts were refreshing in the guise of fresh yogurt with fruit, fennel and olive mint gelee, but the rose and white chocolate crema was a dessert dream, accented with passion fruit puree, almond crumble and rose dust.
I tried a couple of glass of white wine with the repast. The Retsina was herbaceous and delicious. Other whites were palatable, and a sure accompaniment to the Greek flavors. I’ll try the reds when I return for the lamb, sometime soon.
Reservations are easier for a late lunch, and as per my suggestion, plan for more than one.