Sorry for the slow posting this week, folks; we had to take a California Driver’s Test yesterday and, based on everything we’d heard, we had to really study for it (a very smart friend, who shall remain nameless, failed the first time he took it). As we went into the written exam, Craig said: “Whoever does better will be the ultimate victor of our relationship forevermore!” Turns out, we each passed with only two wrong. We are both victors, which sounds like an Oscar Wilde play in the making. Needless to say, no time for big, thoughtful posts; but I did post those lamb burgers on Tuesday and here’s something fun you can do with the leftovers, should you make those burgers this weekend.
I knew I was going to love Kefi and I did.
After signing books at Best Cellars on the Upper West Side on Friday night, my dear pal Lisa (who lives up there now) joined me for the two block walk over to Kefi. “This is supposed to be great,” I told her. “Really good Greek food for not very much money.”
A few weeks ago, when the new design arrived to my site, I received a comment from a reader named Eric who couldn’t believe, when perusing my new Restaurant Reviews section that I hadn’t yet been to Queens. Eager to remedy this, I wrote him an e-mail and asked him where I should go. He quickly responded and said: “I have been to a number of Astoria Greek places (S’Agapo and Taverna Kyclades) that are really solid.”
So when Rachel Wharton of The Daily News contacted me to do a story about the book (the story is live today–read it here!) I immediately suggested we meet at S’agapo for lunch and Rachel kindly agreed.
We leave Seattle for a moment to talk about Anthos, where I ate with my parents a few weeks ago. I wasn’t going to write about it–not because I didn’t like it, but because the room was so dark and my pictures didn’t come out so great and I wanted to do the food justice–but then I just discovered this post on The Food Network blog where one of the editors spotted me there eating! Isn’t that strange? Now I know how Lindsay Lohan feels–except she’s rarely caught eating. Since the editor anticipated my post about it, I’ve decided to do a quick one.
The food at Anthos is adventurous and exciting. I remember, in particular, this absolutely bizarre first course I had: a long thin egg noodle topped with (you won’t believe this) sauteed snails and rabbit. Seriously. It’s called Hilopita and it’s described on the menu as: “Egg noodle, braised rabbit, snails, black truffle, manouri cheese.” Strangely enough, it all comes together the way that celebrity faces come together on Conan O’Brian’s “If They Mated.” (Anyone want to attempt an image of a half-rabbit half-snail?)
The rest of the food was pretty dynamite too, but Frank Bruni has a point about the room: it’s a depressing space. I didn’t want to say it, but there you have it. Near the front, natural light comes in through the windows but as you go further and further back you feel like you’re in a very very upscale airport diner. The fact that the kitchen is right near most of the tables makes the evening stressful; and the fact that the bathroom is right there too makes it even worse. But the food conquers all. We actually met the chef, Michael Psilakis, because our waiter detected that we were really enthusiastic about what we ate. Chef Psilakis, like most deeply talented, artistic chefs, is a really down-to-earth guy with no pretense about him. Remarkably, he’s entirely self-taught. We talked about that and about the difficulties of running a restaurant (his last place, Dona, closed after a new building owner forced him out–you can read about that here). After a story like that, you just want to root for Chef Psilakis. Luckily, he has the city’s most powerful critic on his side. (For proof, read Bruni’s Anthos review.) And now he has me on his side too. I may not be a formal food critic, but I was spotted by The Food Network. And that counts for something, right?