At Tampa’s newest Greek restaurant Psomi, everything is appealing

So, when are you gonna be open for dinner, gang?

click to enlarge At Tampa’s newest Greek restaurant Psomi, everything is appealing
Meliss Santell
Psomi
3.5 out of 5 stars
701 N. Howard Ave., Tampa
813-733-0890; eatpsomi.com
Appetizers $5-$12; entrees: $13-$22; desserts: $3-$6; beer/wine/cocktails: $6-$12


Preconceived notions are a funny thing. A quick glance at Psomi’s hours and menu has me thinking I’m going for lunch at a Greek diner. In the morning, it’s a bakery with breakfast, and at lunch it brings out the souvlaki and gyros. I expect a storefront in a strip mall.

Then I drive down Howard Avenue looking for 701 N. and, lo and behold, there’s a corner lot with a modern angled A-frame. The center is a stone chimney reaching to the apex of the roof, which is held up by stone pillars connected by warm wood siding. Walking underneath, you enter a comfortable patio with blue sofas piled high with striped pillows before a glass fireplace. It’s there that patrons look through the flames to an exterior waterfall—a great effect mingling elemental motifs.

Above the fireplace mantle is a bas relief that could be torn from a Greek temple entablature on the Acropolis. A classical quartet displaying undulating drapery from their chitons (that’s Greek for toga) and literal chiseled abs. The classical design theme continues on the front patio deck with an embedded circular mosaic including traditional wave and meander (key) patterns. My expectations are completely upended.

click to enlarge A visit to Psomi far exceeds what I expected. I certainly hope they’re planning to expand their hours to allow for dinner service in the near future. - Melissa Santell
Melissa Santell
A visit to Psomi far exceeds what I expected. I certainly hope they’re planning to expand their hours to allow for dinner service in the near future.


Entering from the patio, you’re confronted with a drool-worthy display of stunning Greek pastries. To the left is a glassed walled dining room, which opens to a rear patio (complete with giant urns) when the weather cooperates. The huge ceiling beams running the length of the room support giant hanging alabaster lights. A Yelper gushes that it’s “ultra modern, totally playful and to be honest just kind of fancy.”

One of my posse eyes an enticing herb biscuit through the glass, so we begin there. It’s got a scone-like crumb and is elevated by yummy Greek thyme honey. Greek honey is also drizzled over a scrumptious slab of fried cheese with sesame. Saganaki is typically flamed and doused with fresh squeezed lemon. Sadly, there are no flames at the table, but the kitchen delivers the cheese warm and oozing and the honey is just right.

The keftedes are flat beef “meatballs” under a blanket of peppery arugula and a grilled lemon half which provides bracing acidity to balance the lush fat of the beef. It’s a great combo that gets the juices flowing as you await the main events.

click to enlarge Psomi's burger is terrific. A short rib-sirloin mix with some Greek spices sits on crisp butter lettuce atop a brioche bun. It’s bathed in piquant kefalograviera cheese béchamel which drips down the sides onto the plate. - Melissa Santell
Melissa Santell
Psomi's burger is terrific. A short rib-sirloin mix with some Greek spices sits on crisp butter lettuce atop a brioche bun. It’s bathed in piquant kefalograviera cheese béchamel which drips down the sides onto the plate.


The burger is terrific. A short rib-sirloin mix with some Greek spices sits on crisp butter lettuce atop a brioche bun. It’s bathed in piquant kefalograviera cheese béchamel which drips down the sides onto the plate. With tomato, caramelized onion and garlicky skordalia aïoli—all finished off by a knotted bamboo pick skewering an olive and a crisp pickle garnish—it’s a real treat.

The gyro hand-stacks thin-sliced pork on a puffy, thick warm pita topped with tzatziki, tomato, and red onion. It’s wrapped in foil to hold its shape and topped with a few crisp fries just for kicks. The chicken souvlaki is not a kebab, but served with the same pita and accoutrements as the gyro. The pork is a bit bland, but the pitas are superb.

The wine list smartly features Greek wines. One companion jumps on the “roseus” which is, as it sounds, a rosé made with natural yeast and minimal filtration. It’s dry, but aromatic. They also have two lesser known grapes that I love: assyrtiko (crisp white) and agiorgitiko (velvety red). It’s a splendid opportunity to expand your knowledge. The cocktail list is varied and inventive. Our refreshing “Páthos” combines waterloo gin and St. Germain with Three Cents pink grapefruit soda. There’s one giant ice cube to avoid quick dilution and a garnish of three fresh blueberries plus a sprig of rosemary. It’s appealing to the palate and the eye.

click to enlarge The cocktail list is varied and inventive. The refreshing “Páthos” combines waterloo gin and St. Germain with Three Cents pink grapefruit soda. - Melissa Santell
Melissa Santell
The cocktail list is varied and inventive. The refreshing “Páthos” combines waterloo gin and St. Germain with Three Cents pink grapefruit soda.


The pastry array to finish is delightful. After much discussion we revel in mama’s baklava (a family recipe with distinct clove notes) that’s sweet and luscious. Then, the bougatsa, a decadent triangular Greek custard layered in crisp pastry dusted with powdered sugar. Finally, all the delicious notes of the “big AF” white chocolate cranberry cookie are in balance; it’s scrumptious and never cloying.

A visit to Psomi far exceeds what I expected. I certainly hope they’re planning to expand their hours to allow for dinner service in the near future.

CL Food Critic Jon Palmer Claridge dines anonymously when reviewing. See Tampa Bay’s 50 best restaurants of 2019, according to the area’s longest running food critic Jon Palmer Claridge. Check out the explanation of his rating system. His recent published book, 'Drink.More.Wine!', can be found here.

click to enlarge Psomi's bougatsa, a decadent triangular Greek custard layered in crisp pastry dusted with powdered sugar - Melissa Santell
Melissa Santell
Psomi's bougatsa, a decadent triangular Greek custard layered in crisp pastry dusted with powdered sugar


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About The Author

Jon Palmer Claridge

Jon Palmer Claridge—Tampa Bay's longest running, and perhaps last anonymous, food critic—has spent his life following two enduring passions, theatre and fine dining. He trained as a theatre professional (BFA/Acting; MFA/Directing) while Mastering the Art of French Cooking from Julia Child as an avocation. He acted...
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