Chef Michael Psilakis has a video tour of his new restaurant, MP Taverna in Irvington:
I suppose this is as good a time as any, then, to post photos of my recent lunch there. I had the lamb burger. Yes, it’s all that—and more.
I love the tang and the extra juiciness that the lamb brings to the table.
There were a bunch of us for lunch, and it was hard to really concentrate and taste everyone’s dish, but I will say we didn’t have a clunker in the bunch. The shared appetizers, were, clockwise from top right, fried calamari with cauliflower and chickpeas, crab croquettes with lemon-garlic remoulade, and the trio of dips (yogurt, eggplant and chickpea):
We adored the cauliflower and the chickpeas, hidden like little pearls within the tangle of calamari. The croquettes were crispy and fresh and the dips were all very flavorful, but the eggplant was our favorite.
After the jump, a few more dishes, plus Bill Cary’s Restaurants We Love article on MP Taverna from a few weeks back.
Two of my dining companions got the paccheri pasta.
With eggplant, capers, olives, pepper and tomato, it was reminiscent of a puttanesca, but with a Greek twist.
Another got the branzino with fingerling potatos, cherry tomatoes, olives and garlic.
The skin was ever-so-crispy and the fish moist and flaky. Very good.
Our last friend got the souvlaki.
I barely got a taste, but remember liking it quite a bit.
And here’s another photo of my lamb burger:
Lunch, check. Dinner? Definitely on the list.
Here’s what Bill Cary had to say about his experience, with beautiful photos by Xavier Mascarenas.
Restaurants We Love: MP Taverna
What a treat to have Michael Psilakis, the celebrated Greek chef who has created several culinary hits in Manhattan, making his first foray into Westchester.
He opened MP Taverna in Irvington in May, and he’s clearly found a crowd eager to sample his accessible, pared down Greek fare. At 8 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, every table at the stylish waterfront taverna was taken.
In the airy Bridge Street warehouse space most recently occupied by Day Boat Cafe, Psilakis has created a warm, inviting and kind of swank take on a traditional Greek taverna. It’s a big comfortable room, with a separate bar area that’s also quite roomy.
We settled into one of the many booths and got things going with the Angouri cocktail, a refreshing concoction of house-infused cucumber vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and lime juice. We’re not usually fans of specialty cocktails — just bring us a no-fuss, straight-up vodka martini, please, or a Maker’s Mark Manhattan, depending on the weather. But this one really hit the spot on a muggy, steamy weeknight.
We love the menu. It’s very reasonably priced and full of different ways to go — dips and appetizers, a burger or a sandwich, tapas-style small plates, a summer salad perhaps, or maybe you’re in the mood for a standard meat-and-potatoes entree. As far as prices, most of the dinner entrees come in at under $20, with appetizers in the $10 range. You could come for an expansive evening or just stop by for a nice bite for not much money. Do save room for dessert, though — they are delicious here, an unexpected surprise.
My dining companion and I decided to share three appetizers — scallops, meatballs and grilled octopus — and then move on to separate entrees, an intriguing sounding Greek paella (with orzo, not rice) and grilled branzino (though a sea bass special sounded like a winner, too).
The generous portion of meatballs was served with fresh tomatoes, olives and whole cloves of garlic that were remarkably tender and mellow. Once we cut into the three big meatballs, a blast of salt really perked them up.
Bingo — the scallops are a total winner, perfectly cooked and served atop a bed of warm spinach that was studded with dried cherries and roasted cauliflower. Just delicious. We also liked the octopus — very tender and served with a tasty, lemony chickpea salad.
We like the wine list, too, just as simple and accessible as the menu. You’ll find 50 bottles available by the glass (3 or 6 ounces) as well as by the half or full bottle. We wanted a bottle of something white and Greek, and prices on that list ranged from $35 to $55. We opted for the middle, a 2010 Argyros Assyrtiko from Santorini priced at $45. Its mineral, citrusy notes paired well with our seafood.
The paella was a tad too soupy and its very tomatoey sauce made it feel more Italian than Greek. But we loved all the fresh seafood, especially the very summery head-on shrimp. Lots of flavorful mussels and clams, too, and tasty chunks of lamb sausage.
The traditional branzino was wonderful — a perfectly cooked and generous portion of flaky white fish served with fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes and black and green olives. Very Greek, right out of an Athens taverna.
And would you like to see the dessert menu? Well sure, why not, we thought, having learned to have rather low expectations in Greek restaurants. No thanks, not another plate of gooey, overhoneyed pastry.
Well, we’re happy to report that the two desserts we tried — a spiced walnut and parsnip cake and an apple “baklava” Napoleon — were simply wonderful, kind of the highlight of an already very good meal.
The cake was an adult riff on a traditional carrot cake, served with a smear of cream cheese frosting and homemade maple walnut ice cream. The Napoleon featured sheets of flaky phyllo dough, sauteed warm apples, homemade Amaretto crunch ice cream and drizzles of honey. Just divine — and two very good cups of coffee sent us on our way.
Psilakis, by the way, was very much in the house the night we dined at MP Taverna, busing tables, carrying drinks, overseeing service and quietly chatting up his customers to offer menu suggestions and answer questions. We got just the right advice as we debated between the branzino and the dourade. Welcome to Westchester, Michael, and it’s nice to see a busy chef-owner taking such a hands-on approach to getting his new restaurant off to just the right start.
If You Go
1 Bridge St., Irvington, 914-231-7854, www.michaelpsilakis.com
Hours: Open daily for lunch, noon to 3 p.m. Dinner: 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, till 11 p.m. Fridays to Sundays. Brunch: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Dinner for two (minus tax, tip and alcohol): $93
Good to know: There’s a happy hour from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, with reduced prices on beer, wine and cocktails and $1.50 oysters and Gyro Beef Sliders.