On Thursday, I had my last Restaurant Week meal at Anthos with Ariel. This pretty much sums up my international food trek of sorts since I started with Indian, French, and now Greek (all nouveau style). I did have hopes of being captivated by Chef Psilakis’ food since Ariel went to Kefi, Psilakis’ other Greek restaurant, numerous times and been blown away by his food. Did Anthos make me happy or just left me feeling disgusted? If you want to find out, just read on…
As you can see, the restaurant’s packed with Midtowners on a business lunch meeting or the similar vein of what I’m doing – having lunch here for the sake of Restaurant Week. At several occasions when I’m having a conversation with Ariel or when I’m trying to listen to the waiter, I had a hard time listening. I don’t know if it has to do with the acoustics there or plainly, it’s just too many people there that it’s a bit annoying not to be able to hear someone.
Moving on to the food, we were a bit perplexed in terms of which menu to order off of. Strangely, they offer the Anthos Winter RW 2008 menu, the regular prix-fixe menu and the a la carte. For the budgeted gourmands like us, we had a hard time deciding whether or not to order from the RW menu or their normal prix-fixe. What the waiter told us, the difference between the two were that the normal had a few different options that normally wouldn’t show up on the menu, only for dinner (and a $4 difference). The only thing that broke the tie, per se, was that Ariel was interested in the “Sesame” dessert that was in the regular menu. Hence we defeated the purpose of eating out at Restaurant Week; we didn’t order from the Restaurant Week menu.
The bread was pretty good since it was warm and it’s somehow a bit sweeter than what I would associate a seven-grain roll. The goat’s milk butter was tangy with a salty punch and the best part was that it’s served at room temperature.
As we noshed on our bread and chatted away for a while, we noticed for a long time (say ten minutes or so) that our appetizers hasn’t arrived yet. About the time Ariel was trying to call the waiter over about our whereabouts of our food, the waiter immediately apologized and said that the kitchen was backed up on the food and will bring out a complimentary dish to us – which turned out to be the meze course.
The mezes were overall very good. I was kind of expecting thinly cut pieces of fish (think of sashimi style) but they’re not. They’re cut quite thickly like a quarter-inch thick that makes it more meaty and chewier than what I would want for fresh fish like this. Anyways, the best overall in flavor was the snapper since it’s quite complex ranging from tart to sweet. From the cobia meze, we both liked the Greek yogurt, just because Greek yogurt’s awesomely rich and creamy.
Finally came our appetizers arrived…
Ariel’s sheep milk ricotta dumplings were pretty good. It’s light, slightly chewy with subtle tang from the sheep’s milk ricotta. The sauce that accompanied it was quite buttery and the kale (I think?) was a nice green to give it some bitterness to cut the richness of the dumplings.
My pot of escargots was cooked perfectly that it’s soft and chewy. But the sauce was extremely creamy. What I really mean, it’s purely cooked in heavy cream with a touch of butter and herbs and it’s emphasized with more butter with buttered, toasted croûtons. Jeebus, I was dying with fat overload with this dish. Of course it tasted good but then my stomach isn’t used to this delicious decadence.
As for our main course, Ariel had the highly touted lamb burger (according to Gael Greene and Frank Bruni) came to be a bit disappointing in terms of flavor since he was expecting something more Greek influenced. What he got was a large, coarsely ground burger that exudes its juices down his fingers from the first two bites. It definitely stuffed him but he’s underwhelmed from his expectations. But he added his own touch of decadence by smearing goat butter on top of his burger.
My roasted chicken dish was fine. It’s perfectly cooked and well seasoned but the flavors weren’t exciting to me. The chicken was slightly dressed with a swash of broccoli puree and a few florets, as well as a few spears of the delicately sweet leek. It’s nice but I don’t love it.
Then finally, dessert…
Ariel’s sesame ice cream was intensely sesame flavored and somewhat gritty from the toasted, ground sesame seeds. The finely ground bits of stuff (I don’t remember what it was) added on a crunchy, toothsome texture. This wasn’t what Ariel had in mind since he was thinking about this Sesame dessert that he read from NY Magazine.
This particular dessert was another gratis dish for making us wait. It’s rice pudding encased in a phyllo dough dusted with cinnamon-sugar. The interesting elements were the quenelle of smooth, tart and savory-like pomegranate-oregano sorbet and jam that is streaked across the plate. It played well in terms of temperature differences of warm and cold.
My dessert of choice was the bougatza, which is really a goat cheesecake rolled in katafi. It’s accompanied with a goat’s milk caramel (I didn’t really taste goat’s milk here) and a lovely apple compote. The cheesecake itself tasted like a sweet form of chevre with crispy bits of phyllo dough, sweetened even further with the caramel sauce and apples.
So, that’s pretty much our meal – pretty bad service since they’re overwhelmed with the amount of diners for Restaurant Week with subpar food. Would I come back here on a normal day? Probably not.
Now, the announcements…
For some reason, someone nominated me for this food blogging contest: Culinate’s Death by Chocolate. I don’t know how am I notable for chocolate exactly…but I’m flattered that someone did nominate me. So thank you, whoever you are for nominating me. But now, I have to ask you my readers for your support and VOTE FOR ME! Not like I’m going to win, since most of the other candidates are much better writers than I am. But hey, it doesn’t hurt trying…and thank you if you do vote (it ends on Friday, Feb. 8th).
In case I don’t write by Wednesday, which I doubt anyways, Happy Lunar New Year!
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New York, NY 10019