Anthos is the latest creation of Greek wonder-chef Michael Psilakis. For a self-taught chef, Psilakis has made a remarkable name for himself in just a few years. First he opened Onera on the Upper West Side. I loved the place, but the space was admittedly a bit dismal, and the location worked against it. And maybe the Upper West Side wasn’t ready for an offal tasting menu.
Then, he opened Dona, an Italian/Greek hybrid with comely restauranteur Donatella Arpaia. I wasn’t quite as infatuated with Dona as some other people, but there’s no question it was a big success. But then, Psilakis and Arpaia lost their lease, and Dona was no more. Around that time, he closed Onera and re-opened it as the more casual Kefi, and it’s now a hit. Then came Anthos (“blossoming”), which was meant to propel Greek cuisine to the three-star heights that Onera and Dona both missed.
The question is, did they succeed? Both Adam Platt in New York and Frank Bruni in the New York Times didn’t quite think so, both awarding two stars, though Bruni thought Anthos came awfully close to three. He pronounced it better than either Onera or Dona—both of which had won two stars from him—and several of his complaints seemed petty: “fussy tics” and “self-consciousness” (both recurring turn-offs for him), as well as “drab” décor (a complaint several critics have noted). He added, “Pauses between courses are too long, and not everything that arrives is worth the wait.”
We found Anthos to be just about everything a Greek restaurant could hope to be. Perhaps some of the early rough spots have been smoothed out. Or perhaps a Saturday in August, with the restaurant only half full, didn’t provide an indication of what service would be like when traffic is busier. We had no complaint with the purportedly drab décor, which seemed to us comfortable and appropriately restrained.
Canapés came first (above, left), followed by an amuse bouche (above, right). The server describing them had a heavy accent, and was difficult to understand. The latter—a smoked Halibut, I believe—was about one inch square. My girlfriend didn’t much care for it, but I thought it was successful. In any case, it must have set a record for most ingredients in a small package.
The menu at Anthos is re-printed daily. Both the appetizer and entrée I ordered aren’t shown on any of the online menus, and I don’t have exact descriptions. A Skate Salad (above, left; $16) was excellent, but I was especially impressed by Cod wrapped in zucchini (above, right; $33).
To start, my girlfriend ordered Sheep’s Milk Dumplings ($16), which were beautifully executed. But the highlight for her was the Roasted Chicken (above; $28), which was impeccably prepared, tender, and very attractively plated.
The wine list is a tad over-priced, but we found a wonderful Greek white wine at $55 (label pictured above). Curiously, the sommelier tried to steer us away from Greek wines—we weren’t sure why—but the choice we finally landed on was excellent.
Mileage may vary, but we left Anthos more impressed than we have been with any restaurant in quite some time.
Anthos (36 W. 52nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)