If restaurateur Donatella Arpaia is teaming up with chef Michael Psilakis, it's at least worth checking out. And if I get to dine with my friend Katherine Bryant, all the better.
Katherine's a publicist now, but she used to work at a foodservice trade publication, and we bonded at a variety of press events, most notably several years ago at the National Pork Producers' Council's Taste of Elegance in D.C., at which we ended up doing shots with the wine sponsors. Oh, happy days.
Katherine's also a sketch comedienne. Her troupe is worth checking out.
My favorite thing about Michael Psilakis is that he started his foodservice career at a Long Island TGI Friday's, but he's also a nice guy - very earnest - and a creative chef.
If Donatella's involved, the décor is going to be striking.
Also at dinner was Katherine's colleague, Suzanne Baldwin, and I decided that she's all right, too.
The evening started with me being a guinea pig for sommelier Heather Branch, who gave me her version of a Manhattan, with a skewer of feta-stuffed dried cherries. I suggested she swap the feta for some kind of grana - Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, whatever.
What I ate (the food is loosely inspired by the foods of the Mediterranean, primarily Italy and Greece):
sea urchin with burrata, caviar, fava bean puree & leek oil
Kumamoto oyster with pink grapefruit, crystallized ginger and pink shallot vinaigrette
razor clam with fennel, green apple & mint
bay scallop with cured olives, preserved lemon & salt flowers
ahi tuna with preserved orange, tsakistes olives
tiger shrimp with blood orange, red onion & feta
yellowtail with sun-dried tomato, artichoke & basil
orange marlin topped with mozzarella & basil
cumin spiced Hawaiian tuna with cracked bulgur wheat & thassos olive salad in a creamy feta vinaigrette
grilled calamari & pignoli salad with chunky English pea puree and garlic bread crumbs
crispy bacalla and bufalà ricotta with skordalia, tomato & basil
veal cannelloni with porcini mushrooms, fontina, hard boiled egg, mâche & black truffle vinaigrette
two preparations of lamb:
grilled loin with a baby dandelion, fava bean & farro salad
poached lamb shank with artichokes & avgolemono
olive oil & blood orange panna cotta
zucchini-chocolate cake, walnut thyme gelato
torrone semifreddo, raspberry-rose sorbet
bittersweet chocolate mousse, sea salt caramel
lemon soufflé, lemon hazelnut gelato