Anthos: Great Wine Service, Among Other Things
The other night I went to Anthos, the new haut-chic-Greek midtown spot from chef Michael Psilakis and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia. As about fifty other bloggers and restaurant reviewers have noted, high-end Greek food seems to be having its flavor-of-the-month moment—witness the arrival of Barbounia, Parea, etc. (I'm still waiting for the cuisine of ancient Babylon to make a comeback—bring on the dried fish and date cakes!—but that's just me.) What's interesting about this Greco-proliferation, though, is that it's one of the few restaurant trends I've found where the wine got there first.
Greek wines have been impressing sommeliers for several years now, and for good reason. If you're curious as to why, Anthos wouldn't be a bad place to start, as it has one of the most comprehensive lists of Greek wines I've run into—I can't think of many other restaurants that would offer seven different vintages of Tsantali's Cabernet-Limnio blend, for instance.
The other thing Anthos has in terms of wine is a hell of a sommelier, Mark du Mez. This is my idea of great wine service: at one point in the evening I asked Mark about a Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru he had on the list. (The list, by the way, is extensive and has a good Burgundy selection, too; our table started with Greece and moved on to France, sort of like the Romans circa 130 B.C.) Regarding my choice Mark said something along the lines of, "Well, it's definitely good. But with what you've ordered, I really think you'd enjoy this more." This was a 2002 E. Giboulot Côte de Beaune La Combe d'Eve—which, outside of the fact that it turned out to be a beautiful, minerally, silky-textured white Burgundy that went perfectly with our meal, cost thirty dollars less on the list than the wine I'd asked about.
Since then I've tried to think of the number of times I've had a sommelier suggest a wine priced that much less than the one I planned to order. The number I've come up with so far is zero. That's not really a surprise; in some sense, Mark's suggestion cost the restaurant's bottom line $30. But what he also did, far more lucrative in the long run (and just plain better service, too), was instantly create a return customer.
Wine service aside, the other thing that will bring me back to Anthos is Psilakis's cooking. Highlights of the meal included the supremely good taramasalata (very garlicky, very un-fishy, completely addictive), a pillowy sheep's milk ricotta dumpling topped with a single, succulent pan-seared Botan Ebi shrimp ("You may suck the head, if you like," stated our waiter—good advice, in fact, if somewhat unfortunately phrased), and a crisp-skinned piece of perfectly seared red mullet atop a luscious, bacony bed of lentils.
Anthos has no website yet, but reservations can be had by calling 212-582-6900.