PROFILE: Midtown Lunch’er “Michael Psilakis” PLUS a Lamb Cookbook Giveaway

Every Tuesday I turn over the site to a different Midtown Lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Midtown. In addition to being a long time fan of Kefi (on the Upper West Side), it’s no secret that I’m also a huge fan of the lamb burger at Anthos on 52nd btw. 5+6th. So I’m incredibly honored to welcome this week’s Profiled Midtown Lunch’er, Chef Michael Psilakis… PLUS we have a copy of his new cookbook “How To Roast a Lamb” to give away at the end of the profile.

Name: Michael

Age: 41

Occupation: Chef/Owner of Anthos, Kefi, Gus & Gabriel and Eos in Miami, FL.

Where in Midtown do you Work?: I float around to all of my restaurants constantly, but am mostly on the Upper West Side at Kefi in our offices up there.

Favorite Kind of Food: I appreciate any and all types of food, but if I had to pick one it would definitely have to be Greek food… or pizza.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: That’s impossible! I do not have one, does not exist.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Midtown: I love the cheeseburger at the Burger Joint (on 56th btw. 6+7th.) That place is like an oasis with neon signage. Another place I really enjoy, that is out of ML’s price range but worth a splurge, is Esca (on 43rd and 9th) for the whole grilled fish. It doesn’t matter what type of fish, you know when you go there it’s always fresh and doused with really, really good olive oil.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? The basket of hot bread waiting to be taken out by our waiters for bread service. What? We’re busy!

Place(s) you discovered thanks to Midtown Lunch? I can’t say that I have, unfortunately. I am always keeping an eye on Greek spots though and think I might check out this Uncle Nick’s and Poseidon Bakery over on 9th Avenue.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Greece, no question. The produce that is grown under that sun is just superb. I would sauté up some vegetables in a little extra virgin olive oil from Crete with some roasted whole fish or lamb. That’s heaven.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Midtown Lunch readers? Wow man that’s a great question. Thank you. I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that before. I think I am most curious about your readers’ mentality when it comes to their own definition of value in these tough times. Is value a casual meal from a Michelin-starred chef for $50 as opposed to $250? Or is it spending $2.50 on a souvlaki from a street vendor? And are they willing to travel that extra five or ten blocks, or take that subway ride for something cheaper than what’s around the corner, or are they traveling for the higher quality meal at the same price point? I’m really looking forward to reading what you all have to say.

All of the above as far as I’m concerned. This site is all about value! And traveling distances to find the best meal, as long as it’s under $10. I feel like nobody should have to pay more for a decent lunch (dinner is a different story!)

Alright on to business… want to win a copy of Michael’s new cookbook “How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking”? Just make a comment below and you’re entered to win. Either answer Michael’s question about what your idea of value is, or comment about something else (say, your favorite Greek dish in New York City) and you’re automatically entered to win. A winner will be drawn a week from today at Noon (on 11/30.)

And as always if you would like to be next week’s Profiled: Midtown Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at


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    Value is getting something that you like/want, for less than you would be willing to pay. If you are comfortable paying $20 for a pizza, and one day that same pie costs $15, that’s value.

  • Value for me is a little of both. A good deal from a place that would normally be out of the budget (though i’m leaning at the $30 range rather than the $50 range right now)…or a higher quality meal than what i’ve been getting at the same price point. And a freebie never hurts. I’m a sucker for the “dine here and get a free glass of wine / dessert / appetizer” routine ;-)

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    I’ll travel if I hear of something thats higher quality then what Im used to for the same price… And I most certainly value a cheaper meal from a michelin star chef… It can be hard to spend almost $200 on a meal.

  • You put an establishment in midtown east that serves good souvlaki, I will pay SEVEN dollars for it! However, it has to be within 5 blocks of me.

    On a side note (and this might make you die a little on the inside), the best souvlaki I’ve ever had was from the food court in the Fairview Mall near Toronto, from a place called Jimmy the Greek.

  • oh wow, a question about value. Personally it’s all about value for the situation. Like you said, sometimes all you want is a skewer on the street for really cheap. Sometimes I’m feeling adventurous and want to venture out to a place like Flushing for cheap AND authentic. That part feels very important to many people I think. That the authenticity happens to exist outside of the central hub of any city, and if the real estate prices are lower, I expect the food to cost less too. There’s always that question of high priced authentic good… how many Midtown Lunchers have eaten at Masa? I haven’t, but that’s fish flown from Japan and supposed to be super duper authentic. That’s nice… but you know… And sometimes you have a special occasion and you want that three or four star place. You wanna see if the restaurant makes an effort at value if they say it’s a priority. I always think it’s stupid when restaurants want to offer some restaurant week type of deals that’s even worse than RW, just hoping to rope in some dopey tourists. That makes me forget about the restaurant even faster. And lastly I think value in tough times is the same as value is good times.

  • For me, value is getting great food from establishments I’ve never tried before at a great price–hello little morrocco and kwik meal. If it means walking a mile back and forth to do so at 9 pm at night to hit up a new street cart with your dog, then so be it…I’m not one to hit up fancy places often, so the whole michelin thing is out of my knowledge base.

    As to best greek food, after the Delphi closed downtown 2 yrs. ago, I have gone to Greek Kitchen on the west side. It is ok.

    Oh, and FRED OF THE WEEK….

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    It’s all about the price/quality combination. It’s like supply and demand – there’s a level at which it optimizes, regardless of initial starting price. There are places that cost $40 for lunch but are great value (i.e. Jean George) and there are places that cost $3 for lunch and are terrible value (most midtown pizza joints).

  • wait, does he live in ny?

  • ^^Pretty much what he said. Sums it up pretty much right there.

  • “Is value a casual meal from a Michelin-starred chef for $50 as opposed to $250?”

    This. I’ve been frequenting the ‘high-end’ restaurants that get creative, such as Tom’s Tuesday Dinners at Craft, or the 1980′s throwback menu at Gotham Bar & Grill. And even at $89, the 4 course prix fixe at Marea is simply worth the trip and the $$$$.

    Also, huge props to Scott Bryan for continuing the $35 3-course dinner at Apiary, which combined with the no-corkage Monday deal, makes it the absolute best bargain dinner in the city.

  • Value to me is good food at a good price….those metrics however are debatable.

  • if a $250 meal was going for $50 and it is a chef i am interested in.

    for workday lunch, i stick to to around a 5 block radius.

  • Standing in line in the cold rain for 30 minutes yesterday with about 40 other lunchers to get the fried chicken/pork chop at Cravings for $5 instead of $7.

  • The cover of that cookbook makes me hungry… er.

    I am very much of the belief that a walk or a subway ride for something really delicious is alwasy worth it. That said, these days a $50 meal is a special occasion.

  • I had lamb on rice for lunch yesterday and had grilled lamb chops for sunday night meal. Don’t I qualify to get the book? hehe

  • “Value” is a big word.

    - For “daily” value, most people here do stick to the “$10″ limit for lunch, and we probably have a similar limit for dinner. If it’s an average weeknight and we don’t want to cook, I’d probably only drop $35 bucks on dinner.
    - For “it’s an occasion”, I don’t mind spending $50-$100 on dinner.
    - For a “just to say I’ve done it” value, that can be within someone’s financial threshold. Yvo had something on this recently:

    I’m sure I just rephrased your original question, but that should help demonstrate; value is in the eye (or the wallet) of the beholder.

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    Gotta try out Uncle Nicks

  • Wait. There’s a cookbook giveaway?! NOW THAT’S VALUE!!!


    One year I need to go to one of those greek restaurants for the greek orthodox easter dinner celebration.

  • I’ma let you finish, but Pylos in the East Village has some of the best Greek in NYC.

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