Compared with other glamorous Donatella Arpaia productions (Dona, davidburke & donatella), there is a flatness to the proceedings at Anthos, a curious dearth of fabulousness to the room. With its wan lighting and undistinguished design, the space feels transitory and slapped together, as if the proprietors were biding their time while they figure out how to recapture the magic they had at Dona. But we’re in the gray canyons of 52nd Street, after all, and if you’re looking for glamour, you’ll find a measure of it in the desserts. Yogurt, that old Greek staple, comes in little tasting portions (topped with fennel and candied lemons, with mint gelée on the side) laid out sideways in what looks like a large, slightly deformed glass bong. I liked the shiny chocolate torta, and an intricate riff on the gourmet possibilities of baklava called “Baklava Trio.” But best of all is “Sesame,” a wild, textural mixture of sesame flavors surrounding a wheel of gourmet halvah filled with caramel. Break the wheel with your spoon, and the whole thing blends together in an agreeable, slightly mysterious way, like some imaginative Hellenic version of crème brûlée.
Address: 36 W. 52nd St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-582-6900
Hours: Lunch, Monday through Friday noon to 2:45 p.m. Dinner, Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, $15 to $18; entrées, $28 to $46.
Ideal Meal: Raw meze, hilopites, or skordalia; grilled swordfish; Sesame dessert.
Note: The Greek white wines are well-chosen, particularly those from Santoríni.
Scratchpad: As he showed at Dona, Psilakis is a bona fide multi-star chef. His imaginative cooking here rates three stars, but we’ll subtract half a star for the narrowness of the menu, and another half for the bland décor.