Greece lightning

By Salma Abdelnour Posted March 22, 2007

Michael Psilakis is by no means the first chef in America to jump on the Greek-revival trend, but his take on the cuisine is the most thrilling I’ve come across in a while. The New York City-based Psilakis, a first-generation Greek-American, owns the Upper West Side’s casual Kefi, and he just opened the glossier Anthos in midtown with chic restaurateur Donatella Arpaia. (The pair’s previous restaurant, Dona, was sadly felled by building-lease issues.) Psilakis is a genius at riffing on Greek dishes and ingredients (especially anything seafood-related) without stripping the cuisine of its identity or turning it into yet another vehicle for the latest haute-fusion clichés. I loved his crab-and-shrimp duo: two side-by-side blown-glass bowls, one filled with fresh crab, sea-urchin-spiked tzatziki and trout roe, and the other with milky-sweet shrimp, feta and spicy basil in a tomato consommé. Psilakis’s version of yiouvetsi, a traditional Greek stew cooked in an earthenware casserole, involves a luscious pile of super-juicy shrimp, razor clams, mussels and orzo in a spicy, saffron-tinged broth. And his spin on hilopites (Greek pasta) is to top a wide, translucent egg noodle with rabbit braised in black truffle juice, vermouth-soaked Burgundy snails, and manouri, a salted Greek white cheese. I could go on. But for that I’d have to go back, which I plan to—immediately.

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