Celeb chef Michael Psilakis puts the power in power lunch

 

bistro e at The Viceroy has a sort of rock-and-roll feel.

Michael Psilakis
Michael Psilakis' new Brickell restaurant, bistro e, packs a punch.
 

By Madeleine Marr

Brickellistas, you’ve got a new place for lunch: bistro e at The Viceroy.

At the helm is chef Michael Psilakis, who was the toast of Manhattan with his Michelin-starred restaurant Anthos

Psilakis -- along with business partner Donatella Arpaia -- has shifted his culinary focus to Miami, bringing a hip, fast and affordable lunch to downtowners.

The concept at bistro e, which shares space with the Kelly Wearstler-designed Eos on the 15th floor, is innovative and edgy: Fine china is mixed with cast iron and wooden plates. Sleek green sand-filled hourglasses sit on the table to symbolize a rush. Servers wear Chuck Taylor sneakers and John Varvatos T’s, their order pads hanging from biker chain wallets. 

‘‘There’s sort of this rock ’n’ roll feel here,’’ says Psilakis, who grew up in Long Island, N.Y. ‘‘But there is also an idea of being playful.’’

And the food? American with a twist of South Florida (Latin) and Greece, where his family is from.

‘‘Of course I’m influenced by America,’’ says the married father of one with a baby on the way. ‘‘If I make something like tostones, they won’t be traditional -- it’s this version I have in my head.’’

His version is crispy and light, accompanied by a medley of dipping sauces like house-made chipotle crema and a kicking salsa verde. 

‘‘Miami has been an education for me,’’ says Psilakis, 42. ‘‘In terms of spice, the barometer is way higher. You guys really like the heat. If I served [these sauces] in New York, I would get letters.’’

Here’s a tasty tidbit: Every last bit of food is made on premises -- except the bread.

 ‘‘We don’t buy anything,’’ the chef known as the Greek-American Mario Batali points out. ‘‘If I make a hot dog, it’s made here. If I make a hamburger, we cure the meat, we grind the meat.’’

They even make the potato chips -- which are thinly sliced and pickled, then served with sour cream, garlic and caramelized onions.

Another high point on the menu should be part of any liquid lunch. The super fresh iced tea gets amped up with hibiscus, cinnamon and ginger and poured into Mason jars.

 ‘‘Our restaurant has a very specific identity -- farm to table,’’ says Psilakis, who was invited by President Obama to cook at the White House for Greek Independence Day last March. ‘‘Nothing from a can, nothing preserved, nothing frozen.

 ‘‘Our main focus was to have fun with the dining experience to allow the guest to think about emotional interaction that I have with my environment,’’ he says. ‘‘It allows people to listen to what I have to say.’’

 

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