Michael Psilakis’s ambitious new restaurant, Anthos, opens Monday in the old Acqua Pazza space. It’s been a busy, up-and-down year for the chef: His critically praised Dona closed, unexpectedly, one week into 2007. Just a couple of weeks later, he converted his high Greek eatery Onera into the more casual Kefi, which went on, in this week’s issue, to win four stars from the Underground Gourmet. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, as they say. Looks like it’s lifting Psilakis back up. We went inside Anthos and got all the evidence.
“I want to show that Greek food deserves its rightful place in haute cuisine,” Psilakis says, not immodestly. “It’s viewed as peasant cooking, but if thought about and presented in the proper way, it should be thought of in the same way as French, Italian, and Spanish food.” As at Dona, Psilakis and his trusted chef de cuisine Jason Hall are taking very intense, robust flavors and wielding them with almost surgical delicacy. Tasmanian crab is served with an emulsion of sea-urchin tsatsiki, trout roe, and chives; a trio of pork comes infused with fennel and lemon, each one the product of multistage preparation. A few rustic dishes, like lightly cured sardines served on a bed of English cucumbers with fresh herbs and a salt-cured olive purée, gesture back at the roots of Greek cooking. Do the prices? Well, $25 and $38 prix fixes are available at lunch, there’s a $38 pre-theater menu at dinner, and an $85 chef’s tasting menu that includes Psilakis coming out to talk — we’re guessing he might have something to say about Greek food in the haute pantheon.