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oakapple

Anthos

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Anthos, an haute Greek establishment from Michael Psilakis (Onera, Dona, Kefi) and Donatella Arpaia, opens on Monday at 36 W. 52nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

The concept is similar to the now-closed Onera, but it will be an a more appealing space, more upscale, and in a neighborhood where it should get more traffic. Here's Psilakis per Grub Street:

I want to show that Greek food deserves its rightful place in haute cuisine.... 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.
My girlfriend and I shed a tear when Psilakis turned Onera into Kefi, a Greek restaurant so casual it doesn't even take credit cards. But the food there is still fantastic, with rave reviews this week from both New York and the Times. I look forward to seeing Psilakis on a bigger stage once again.
Edited by oakapple (log)

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Yea Oak, I'm excited to try this place. I hope he does lots of offal like Onera and blows over-priced Milos out of the water.


That wasn't chicken

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I was slightly disappointed by Anthos only because my hopes were so inflated. It's a very good restaurant.

I've pretty much missed out on the recent haute Greek mini-trend. I eat in Molyvos all the time, because it's so close to Carnegie Hall and City Center. But I haven't been to Parea, I haven't been to Pylos -- and I was so bitter at missing out on the early-days offal tasting menu at Michael Psilakis's Onera that I pretty much refused to go after they ended it.

But I was mighty impressed by Michael Psilakis's new Cheap Greek at Onera's locational successor, Kefi. So I was more than eager to try his new culinary successor to Onera, Anthos (in the old Acqua Pazza space on 52nd between 5th and 6th).

You all know the backstory: how Psilakis opened the pan-Mediterranean Dona with restauranteur Donatella Arpaia last year; how it quickly had to close owing to real estate problems; how Psilakis then quickly shut down Omera and turned it into a cheap place, while moving his haute Greek operations to this new restaurant with Arpaia, Anthos, opened in the space occupied by an earlier (undistinguished) restaurant owned by Donatella or her family.

So here it is.

The room is lovely, in an antisceptic Midtown way. The staff is pleasant, if, at this early stage, unpolished.

As for the food, I like the cheap Kefi so much that my expectations for its more exalted sibling were perhaps higher than a place can reasonably bear. I enjoyed my food (and what I stole from my dining companion) very much, but I wasn't transported. I tell you that not to dissuade you from going to this restaurant -- to the contrary, I recommend it very highly -- but rather to enable you to keep your expectations in line.

This being 2007, they have a house cocktail list. I had the Ramp Gibson: a Gibson with a pickled ramp instead of a pickled onion. As I told the waitress, my first ramp of the season might as well come in gin. This was foolproof -- but also clever. (My companion had the house's eponymous cocktail, based on Metaxa. It was good.)

I started with a dish consisiting of a single broad noodle (or maybe a pair of them laid end to end) topped with rabbit, snails, and truffles. I suspect many people will have trouble resisting this dish, and it doesn't disappoint. But I also have to say that I didn't like it that much more than the rabbit and pasta dish at Kefi (a current all-City favorite of mine). This was when I started worrying about inflated expectations.

For my entree, I was unable to resist the pork chops with pork belly. This was probably a bad choice. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing particularly distinctive, either.

My date, on the other hand, hit the target with her order of swordfish. It's really more a mixed grill: swordfish steak, octopus, and a meat sausage. The octopus was very good, if not quite up to the best I've had. The swordfish was perfect. The sausage was, well, sausage. This all featured the usual Greek spices that I can immediately recognize, but not identify. An excellent dish.

Having to run off the make a curtain, we had no time for dessert.

The kitchen had no trouble in getting us out on time, even though one of us was late and the other was VERY late. And they were all extremely gracious about it.

All my praise here sounds tepid. But, as I keep saying, that's only because my expectations were so high that I was dissapointed with what was only very good, but not transcendant, food. The style of cooking here is not overcomplicated, which was a relief. But it's not hearty, either -- the idea seems to be to take fairly simple traditional recipes and to make them elegant. The execution could perhaps be a bit better -- but the place has only been open a week or two. I think that when they get running, they will probably be the best Greek in the City (a fairly meaningless comment, given my lack of experience with most of the direct competition). I'm sure I'll be back.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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Oh, I forgot:

The amuses (although I suspect they have a different name in Greek) were seriously good.

The prices were seriously high. If I remember right, some entrees breached the $40 line.

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I had heard so many great things about Anthos that, I figured, it couldn't possibly be that good. While lots of people told me it was great, nobody -- not my acquaintances and not the critics -- ever conveyed to me a compelling storyline about why I should care about the place. Anthos didn't rise to anywhere near the top of my must-go list until, a little while back, I saw some photos of the food in the deeply flawed but also useful magazine "New York Restaurant Insider." When I saw the dishes, it finally sunk in that "haute Greek" was for real. The photos showed food that was beautifully presented and often deconstructed and presented on multiple serving pieces. This guy Psilakis is serious, I could tell, but could the food be that good?

Our meal tonight was that good. This is the restaurant I'm going to be recommending to people who want an interesting new fine-dining experience. I wish I had gone sooner.

The two appetizers we had were two of the best cold seafood dishes I've ever had. Not only were the presentations gorgeous -- much more attractive even than the photos in Restaurant Insider made them out to be -- but also the ingredients were superb and the combinations of flavors were original and intriguing. The first dish was the "raw meze." If you've had the crudo at Esca you've had a preview of this style of dish: pieces of sashimi-style fish garnished with interesting ingredients, in this case with a Greek inflection. However, while the quality of fish at Esca is on par with what we had at Anthos, Esca will not prepare you for the level of craftsmanship at Anthos. The dish is a show-stopper, presented on a long tray on a series of small plates, each a careful, colorful composition. The menu was printed with today's date, and apparently it evolves based on availability of ingredients. Today's raw meze selection was (you get all of these for $18): yellowtail garnished with artichoke and shredded crispy grape leaf (you'd almost guess it was nori); tuna garnished with sumac, mint and sliced hot chilies (this one had serious heat); salmon with peach, pepperoncini, and watercress; swordfish with summer bean, purslane and hazelnut; and snapper with saffron and pickled pluot.

The other cold seafood dish, called "scallop, crab and prawn," (also $18) was presented in three teardrop-shaped shallow bowls. One bowl contained raw scallop with onion and bacon bits; one contained Tasmanian crab with yogurt; and the other contained botan ebi (aka spot prawn) with feta and dill. Then, the server poured a chilled melon soup over each plate: Cavion melon with the scallop, Galia melon with the crab, and watermelon with the prawn. Again, both a gorgeous presentation and a terrific dish.

We then had a pasta mid-course. This course was a comp from the kitchen; I had been outed. I never would have ordered pasta -- I guess I'm narrow-minded but I basically won't order pasta outside an Italian restaurant unless there's a really good reason to -- so I'm glad they sent these out because they were fantastic. In some ways the better of the two dishes was the manti: spicy eggplant ravioli with charred vegetables, Graviera (a cheese from Crete), and tomato jus. This dish had a startling interplay of flavors and was a serious vegetable dish -- a vegetarian could easily at this as an entree and not feel deprived. A less risky dish, but delicious, was the hilopita: a single large, flat egg noodle topped with crispy Berkshire pork belly, artichoke and avgolemono.

My main was the shellfish yiouvetsi stew. This is a big dish. If you're a big eater, you'll be happy with this one. It's a teeming bowl of mussels, razor clams, other kinds of clams, cockles and a couple of head-on shrimp, in a saffron-fennel-seafood broth with orzo (also cooked in the broth) mingled throughout. A very satisfying dish, not cheap at $36 but worth it.

I also tried the roasted black bass with veal cheeks, soybeans and chanterelles, and it was also excellent, and much more of an haute-cuisine-type dish. The rectangular piece of bass was nicely crisped and served with one end resting on a pile of deeply flavorful braised veal-cheek meat. (Also $36 -- entrees run $26-$38).

Desserts were in the game with the rest of the meal, a nice surprise. We ordered the bougatza: goat-milk cheesecake with blueberries, goat-milk caramel and kataifi (the Greek pastry that looks like shredded wheat); and also the sesame dessert. The bougatza was a nice, light-textured variant of cheesecake and the blueberries were superb (the fruit changes with the seasons), but the sesame dessert was a showstopper. I don't think I've ever seen so much done with sesame. The plate is quite a composition. There's a thick smear of sesame-and-chocolate ganache leading up to an "encased sesame ice cream," which has a caramel center. There are also various sesame bits and crusts woven throughout the plate. If you're a fan of halva, this is the best restaurant dessert in the category that you'll ever have. If you're not a halva fan, you may or may not like the dessert. Google says that Grub Street says that pastry chef Bill Corbett won the recent Golden Scoop Pastry awards with this dish, beating out Alex Stupak and Will Goldfarb. The third dessert we tried, a comp, was the only one that wasn't impressive: the baklava trio. Sorry, but I've had better baklava at plenty of lesser restaurants. The standard baklava was way out of balance with much too much cinnamon -- beyond any amount that could be justified by preference. The other two variants -- honey custard with brown sugar tuille, and walnut cake with cinnamon ice cream -- were fine, but I think it's a mistake for the restaurant to list this dessert first on the menu, because it's weak.

Nice touches: pretty amuses, three kinds of bread all good, two kinds of butter (cow and goat -- the goat wins), some interesting cocktails, good wine-by-the-glass choices, we liked our server.

I'm sure somebody has explained this somewhere, but Anthos is to Greek cuisine what Tabla is to Indian cuisine. This is a serious haute-cuisine restaurant using Greek accents to make its food unique. It works brilliantly, and casts Greek flavors and ingredients in a whole new light, at least for me it does.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The g/f and I visited Anthos a couple of weeks ago (blog post here). I echo FG's enthusiasm. Frank Bruni missed the boat on this one, putting Anthos into his usual two-star scrum. It's a three-star restaurant.

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In Bruni's defense, he was quite enthusiastic about the restaurant, and has been a champion of Psilakis over the course of a few different reviews. I give him credit for recognizing and giving credit to Psilakis where credit is due. But I agree, when you look at the other three-star restaurants, Anthos is serving food squarely in that group.

But in general, yes, if talking to my various friends and acquaintances is any indication, this is a restaurant where the foodie buzz has been more enthusiastic than the critical buzz. In most cases, when that happens, the people are out of whack and are just reacting to atmospherics or whatever. But once in awhile you get a restaurant where the public gets it better than the critical community. Not that the critical community has been down on Anthos. But it's a much more important restaurant than you'd realize from reading stories like "Fit for the gods: New York's Greek scene is getting a fancy-pants makeover." I've been to several of the so-called "haute Greek" restaurants and Anthos is in a whole different category.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Our captain (or whatever you call it in an haute Greek restaurant) was great. He was engaging, upbeat and eager to discuss the menu, and was just opinionated enough to be real without being at all overbearing or annoying. I think he steered us towards several good ordering choices. In fact, he steered us away from the baklava trio and towards the goat-cheesecake, and then the kitchen sent out the baklava trio as a comp -- and it was the worst dish we had all night! So that guy was a real pro. Our waiter (the guy who handled a lot of the backup tasks like bread, water, cocktails and other maintenance) was very professional if a bit stiff. The manager who seemed to be in charge of the room was a woman who was also very smooth, and she seemed to have the mother lode of wine knowledge (at some point she told us she used to work at Felidia). The food runners had the standard New York problem of being relatively incomprehensible and not really being able to answer any questions. When we arrived at the restaurant it was fairly empty, so there was a lot of service focused on the handful of tables there. Later, when the place got full, it wasn't as seamless -- we had to do some looking around to get a check and such -- but it was still a strong team, at least it seemed that way to me, on this one visit.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Dinner at Anthos this past Wednesday night left me and my two companions speechless, it was that good. We could only laugh helplessly at what an amazing meal we'd had (the chef's tasting menu, 7 courses with wine pairings, with slight variations for individual tastes). I don't remember every course or ingredient: after the fourth glass of wine you just lean back and enjoy the ride, and what a ride it is. My friends were both of the firm opinion that Anthos equals, if not surpasses, Per Se, which they found fantastic if somewhat ethereal and overly precious, whereas Anthos was considered just a little more down-to-earth. Service was impeccable, top to bottom, and the space is lovely.

The lack of the three stars for Anthos is a crime, though given Bruni's general preferences none of us was terribly surprised (but that's another thread). Gulleters should make this a must-go destination. Not to be missed.


Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

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How timely that this thread was bumped. I'm back in town for the holiday weekend, and I just returned from Anthos where I, too, enjoyed the chef's tasting menu. To say that it surpasses Per Se is perhaps overly high praise, but a case for three stars can certainly be made. I'll report shortly.

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Anthos is at once familiar and unique. It's familiar in that this is a midtown fine-dining restaurant; one that, on the surface, looks like many others. Think of the room as a more posh Insieme. It's unique in that it presents what is most definitely fine-dining cuisine using a repetoire of ingredients that skews toward Greece. Although I'd be hard-pressed to call Anthos an authentic Greek restaurant--just as many would feel uneasy calling Tabla an Indian one--the culinary experience is quite unlike any other NYC restaurant I've been to. I'll qualify that statement by admitting that my experience with Greek cuisine, on all levels, is significantly less than my experience with other European and Asian cuisines. I will also write the report in more detail than I would otherwise because of what I deem a lack of content on what is a worthy and exciting restaurant.

There was brief debate over whether Bruni should have awarded Anthos three stars. Although a case for three stars can most certainly be made--Anthos is significantly better than many other three-NYT-star restaurants in the city--given Bruni's track record this rating is entirely defendable. If a three-star restaurant is one where effectively every dish is at least very good and a couple reach excellence--Picholine and, even more so, EMP come to mind for me--then I think Anthos is right on the cusp. Every dish was very good, at least one eye-opening and excellent, but small quirks kept surfacing and could not be kept at bay.

As I mentioned above, my family enjoyed the chef's tasting menu, priced at an entirely fair $95. Although we made it clear that one diner would prefer to stay away from heavy dishes and the rest would eat anything, the kitchen chose to send out the same dishes throughout the evening, save for the final dessert. This wasn't so much a problem--the meal flowed very sensibly--but I would've preferred the kitchen rise to the challenge of sending out a couple different dishes, at least for the main course where some meat would've been welcome. The tasting menu is not printed and the captain takes the order for the said menu with an open ear for guidance, so with this much flexibility afforded to us I was expecting perhaps a bit more range.

Nevertheless, I can't technically fault any dish that we were served. The main quirk that kept surfacing, however, was the repetition of various ingredients, even those that weren't necessary to a dish's success. Yogurt sauces, chanterelles, celery and celery leaves, and baby pickled onions appeared in various instances, likely pulled from the same mise pan. In a vacuum, each dish was not made worse for some of these additions, but as a whole seeing the same thing more than once seemed to be an oversight or lack of creativity.

To harp on this issue misses out on how tasty the food was, however. We were served the following dishes:

Hot meze - Three warm bites; served to all diners

Raw meze - the Greek take on crudi. I was a fan but may have preferred Chef Pasternack's work at Esca.

Matsutake mushroom salad - One of fundamentally tastiest dishes of the evening. Piney and unctuous.

Octopus - One of the better pieces I've had in memory. This was lightly smoked to great benefit.

Scallop - A dish not unlike something I would make, this had braised potato, fig, and perhaps one other component I'm forgetting. A dot of vinocotto reduction added acidity.

Rice - This dish was not only the highlight of the night but one of the most striking and memorable dishes I've had in recent memory. An egg yolk sits in a small pool of white Greek yogurt, looking like a fried egg (cue memories of wd~50--always a good thing for me). To the side is an artfully arranged melange of dill and other fresh herbs. At 12 o'clock a perfect quenelle of sturgeon caviar. Our server then spoons over something like Greek risotto, chock full of lobster and crab. Mixed all together this dish was pretty out of control.

Dourade/Veal - A pretty typical but tasty combo of seared fish with perfectly crispy skin and braised veal cheek. The dish was somewhat disjointed but very tasty all the same.

Whipped feta mousse and tomato water sorbet- The surprise hit of the evening, this pre-dessert was totally delicious. The cheese mousse was faintly salty, the sorbet faintly sweet. It all worked in a totally unexpected way. I wouldn't be surprised to see this dish served in any of the country's best modern restaurants. I suppose I would've liked to see a bit more of the creativity shown in this dish and the rice dish throughout.

Dessert - Here, we were served an assortment of dishes. I most enjoyed the apricot custard tart with saffron. The beignet-type things with bergamot and honey were nice but very simple. The baklava trio was too sweet for my tastes. I heard that the pastry chef who opened the spot left recently? These desserts seemed to be a slight step down from the savories. Considering the weather I'm surprised not a single fruit-centric plate was offered.

With the dessert we were comped a couple glasses of dessert wine for no apparent reason. I'm not complaining; it was good, kind of like a sherry, I suppose. With the petits fours came the check and all was well. This was a very, very strong meal. With just a bit more emphasis on variety the experience would be a strong three stars. Still, I think this restaurant should have a lot more buzz than it does.

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We went last Friday, and I have to say we were pretty happy over all with the experience. I was a little surprised that we got an 8pm reservation for 4 people last minute and that the place was not 100% on a Friday night.

We had the 4 course tasting menu for $65pp (four courses not including dessert), which I thought was very fairly priced. And for the most part the food was pretty solid. The only negative I have to say (not that the following is in any way insignificant), is that in one of our main courses there was a decent-sized piece of dirty steel-wool fiber (as in brillo pad) which she didn't notice until she had chewed a couple of times.

As expected they were incredibly apologetic, they comped dessert and a bottle of wine. It was a little surprising that it happened to begin with in a place of this caliber.

In spite of that, I would totally see myself going back.


Arley Sasson

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Was disappointed with Anthos tonight. Had heard good things, and like gourmet Greek (soft spot for Milos in Montreal). Concept is solid, menu is interesting/intriguing, HOWEVER:

I ordered the Octopus Appetizer, and only that. My companion had the small tasting menu, for $65. They held my octopus until her main dish came, which is OK but would've preferred them asking me when I wanted it. When it came, it was cool. Not even lukewarm. And I couldn't find my waiter for the life of me. Finally asked a busboy for the manager, who basically said it was because they were busy.

Twit waitress then came by because she saw me complaining to the manager. She says, "I hope everything was OK." I let her have it, firstly for serving cold food, and secondly for being completely absent all night. Her answer? Not "I'm so sorry, I should've come over sooner," or anything approaching an apology. Just "We are very busy tonight."

End result, ruined the meal. Manager did comp my Octopus though. Won't be back. Wouldn't want them to be busy on my account.


Edited by BDR (log)

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What a curious restaurant this is. The room is bland and not at all welcoming and shows some signs of wear, the wine program is limited, pricey, and surprisingly unimaginative for such an ambitious restaurant, and the service was friendly but distinctly amateurish (including uneven pacing - entrees delivered immediately after first courses were cleared - and at least one lukewarm main course).

Fortunately, what they put on the plate more than makes up for all that. Appetizers of raw meze and pastitsio and mains of arctic char and swordfish were all superb, featuring thought-provoking combinations of ingredients with contrasting flavors and textures that made for some really interesting eating. I haven't been this stimulated by restaurant food in quite some time.

It's unusual for us to consider a repeat visit to a restaurant with such a lousy wine program, but we will definitely be back to Anthos. As was stated earlier, it's odd that food this good (and unique) is so far off everyone's radar screen.

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I wouldn't say the restaurant is "so far off everyone's radar screen." If anything it lies just outside the fringes of popularity. Whether this it's due to the location/decor, atypical take on Greek cuisine as fine-dining, or the somewhat spotty service, the restaurant is one that always comes in up in discussions about good restaurants but goes disproportionately unvisited.

With that said, I'm going tomorrow for a pre-theater meal. Three courses for $38 sounds about right to me.

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In some sense Anthos is off the radar screen, or at least at the very edge. Despite its quality it seems to defy categorization. When a Greek wine was part of the pairings during a recent meal at Alinea I told the wine guy that he should really check out the Greek wine selection at Anthos. He was not familiar with the restaurant, which really surprised me, though I believe he was going to immediately check it out.

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victornet is right, and I should've been more clear. Rather than being "so far off" the radar, Anthos is perhaps just outside of it. As I wrote the other day, I did in fact return to Anthos for my second meal and came away with mixed impressions.

First of all, it should be noted that when on, these folks can cook. Our mains were not only very good but a good value given the $38 prix fixe pre-theater menu we ordered. Appetizers were good to very good, but desserts were a definite step down.

The meal started with the standard assortment of hot mezze, olives, and few fritter/croquette-type items. Then a passable amuse of tuna tartare. So far, so good, but nothing all that special.

Appetizers were a sheep's milk dumpling dish with celery (that somehow reminded me, in a good way, of the bastardized dish chop suey) and the raw fish meze. The fish preparations are tasty but a bit too small to be fully enjoyed. Each of the three fish are served in a portion about the size of silver dollar, perhaps a bit larger. Again, I think overall I like the simpler but bolder preparations at Esca more.

The aforementioned mains were the highlight. A simple whole grilled branzino was perfect. Moist, meaty, well-butchered. This was served with a melange of vegetables in a pot off to the side. The veg included various forms of cauliflower and the like in a pleasing sheath of melted butter jus. The other main was a milk-fed chicken dish. The chicken had been marinated in vinegar, likely cooked sous vide, then crisped. The butchery here wasn't as precise--I had a sizeable chunk of cartilage in a piece that should've been boneless--but the flavors were spot on. I really enjoyed this deceptively simple dish.

One of the desserts seemed to be some kind of dense granola-like cake, cut with a nut butter. This was tasty but wayyyy too hard to eat easily. The other was a cake with a berry topping and too salty feta condiment both on top of the cake and across the bottom of the plate. It was interesting, but not necessarily in good way.

What left me feeling most lukewarm was the service. Our captain was absent for much of the evening and we had the most interaction with a young backwaitress who I'm not even sure was assigned to our section. It was kind of bizzare actually, where I kept prefacing all of my requests to her with, "I'm not sure if you can take care of this for us but..."

On the whole, the service was timely but rather cold. The room too, struck me as more corporate, more midtown than I recalled. I suppose because I was dining earlier this time, I walked into a room that was rather empty rather than nearing full. This initial impression may have colored the whole meal. Of course, I feel as though the rest of the service helped solidify this somewhat cold feeling I got. They go through all the motions, sure, but it felt more turn-and-burn than a truly hospitable experience.

So this begs the question, how in the name of the Michelin Man does this place have a star and EMP not have one? I'm not trying to take anything away from Anthos. I believe it's a star-worthy restaurant. But, seriously, my recent lunch at EMP was orders of magnitude better, culinarily, service-wise, decor-wise, wine-wise, serviceware-wise.


Edited by BryanZ (log)

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So this begs the question, how in the name of the Michelin Man does this place have a star and EMP not have one?  I'm not trying to take anything away from Anthos.  I believe it's a star-worthy restaurant.  But, seriously, my recent lunch at EMP was orders of magnitude better, culinarily, service-wise, decor-wise, wine-wise, serviceware-wise.

According to Michelin, one star means "very good cuisine in its category." If the inspectors considered Anthos and EMP to be in different "categories," then the star for Anthos may have nothing whatsoever to do with the lack of one for EMP. I suppose a more obvious example is the starred Spotted Pig vs. the unstarred EMP.

The fuller list of Michelin critiera includes: "product quality, preparation and flavors, the cuisine's personality, value for money and consistency." There have certainly been reports of inconsistency at EMP, while at the same time it is clearly the more expensive restaurant. It is also arguable that, since there are not so many high-end Greek places, the excellence of Anthos in relation to its competition is more apparent.

I am not necessarily saying that the Michelin inspectors got it right, only that if you take their stated criteria at face value, it is possible to arrive at a rational explanation for what they did.

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I agree with you, and I'm certainly not as big a Michelin detractor as others here. Still perhaps I put the two restaurants, most broadly, in the fine-dining "category" and here EMP is, in my opinion, the much, much, much better restaurant.

I actually don't have too much of a problem, philosophically speaking, with the Spotted Pig having a star if it is in fact far and away the best gastropub/casual dining spot in the city. (The fact that I think that star might be better suited at somewhere like Ssam is neither here nor there in the context of this discussion.)

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We had the pre-theatre AND restaurant week menu all in one go tonight (5:30 resy). Without going into the food too much, the restaurant week menu had a side-note saying that we could add one of several special starter courses being offered that night to our meal (no mention of price). After asking our waitress about them, she said the extras could either be made into an extra course, or could be thrown into the middle of the table while we ate our first course. We had them served as an extra course, after the raw meze we chose for first courses off the two menus.

The three choices today for extras were an arctic char meze, charred octopus or olive hilopita pasta with chicken livers and bacon. We picked the last two and basically added an extra course to our already cheap menu's ($35 & $38 respectively) and here's the kicker: were only charged an extra $9 per dish. For a couple looking to try as much of the chef's food as we could before running over to cort theatre, this was incredibly well thought out and felt like a nice gift in the proper spirit of what restaurant week should, but rarely is about - just wanted to share.

And I would definitely recommend the octopus :-)

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So this begs the question, how in the name of the Michelin Man does this place have a star and EMP not have one?

Probably because EMP is garbage, plain and simple. I had one of the worst meals of my life there. It's as if there isn't any salt or pepper in the entire restaurant, and that's just the top of the list. I'd rather eat at Chile's.

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Had an amazing first meal here on Valentine's Day. We were seated downstairs, which I did not find the decor to be anywhere near the level of the food. I didn't go upstairs to see if its any nicer.

It has been awhile since I've had so many surprises and unique flavors at a restaurant. I look forward to a return visit in the future.

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Just a quick note to say that if you were thinking about having the lunch prix fixe at Anthos, just go to Kefi, instead. I was part of a party of two at lunch at Anthos today. The food was fine but just OK, not memorable. I think I may have even had some better meals at Kefi, for less money. So while it's very possible that there is truly great food to be had at Anthos - I wouldn't know - I guess you may have to pay a lot of money for it. For the record, my first course was the chicken livers with smoked bacon, capers, etc; his was the green salad with feta and fennel. We both had hake at a $5 supplement for our second course; he sent his back for additional cooking because it was cold in the middle. It came with couscous and a very nice lemon sauce. My dessert was the yogurt mousse with a nice oaten crust; his was the chocolate pudding cake with olive ice cream (which he found weird but I liked).

Like I said, the meal was fine, but it wasn't a bargain, and I don't plan on coming back but surely do plan on going to Kefi again. By the way, the hostess was very nice and the waiters were OK, so I have no complaints there, though my dining partner observed that our service was slow at times.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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