When you visit Poseidon’s, you will most likely find its owner, Aristos Anastassiades, roaming about. Why? Because Anastassiades believes that the secret to a successful restaurant is having the owner around, doing the cooking himself, and seeing to it that only fresh meats and vegetables are served. It’s this kind of close personal attention, he says, that ensures success. He admits, though, that it’s more than just a matter of quality control; Anastassiades really enjoys meeting new people and making them feel welcome.
He has worked hard to make sure that the rich tradition of Mediterranean hospitality is a fundamental fixture at his restaurant. Eating at Poseidon’s is like going over to Anastassiades’ house for a dinner party. The dining room is typically filled with his friends; he moves from table to table talking, laughing, making sure that everyone is having a good time, and sometimes he hands out complementary appetizers or desserts. It’s just what a good host does, he’d tell you, and it makes no difference that his guests are visiting him in his restaurant instead of his home.
Sure, the food is terrific, but Anastassiades’ gregarious personality and warm hospitality are reason enough to dine at Poseidon’s. In many Mediterranean cultures, a fulfilling dining experience is as much about good company as it is about food—and that’s practically a tenet of faith in Acadiana as well, which is why Poseidon’s has proven to be a good match for this city. Of course, if Anastassiades had his way, he’d bring the traditional three-to-four hour Greek dining experience to Lafayette. Understanding that Americans are on a tighter schedule, however, he squeezes the same amount of socializing into an hour instead.
Anastassiades is comfortable in the restaurant business. He’s worked in this industry since he was fourteen, beginning in his homeland of Cyprus, and later in a few restaurants in Lafayette after his arrival in 1982. Finally, in 1994, Anastassiades felt it was time to venture out on his own, determined to deliver the people of his adopted hometown the most authentic experience of Greek cuisine that he could offer. For this reason, he brought his mother over from Limassal, Cyprus, to help out when he opened. And he also keeps Poseidon’s true to its roots in Mediterranean soil by making a pilgrimage back to his birthplace every year since opening the restaurant. He brings back recipes and lots of photos, both of which he is quick to share with his customers. Thanks to Anastassiades’ last trip, for instance, Lafayette has been introduced to new dishes like a new Greek spaghetti, and shrimp and mushrooms sautéed and topped with a sauce flavored with Ouzo, an anise-based liquor popular in Greece.
In addition to the fixed menu, Poseidson’s cooks up daily lunch and dinner specials. Even among regulars, the specials are often a surprise. It might be a longtime favorite like [Pastitsio], it might be the new Greek spaghetti; it just depends on what Anastassiades is in the mood to eat that day. His true specialty and personal favorite, however, is the melt-in-your-mouth leg of lamb.
If you lean over to the table next to you and ask one of his regular customers, they’ll urge you to order the [Baklava], no matter what. It’s a phyllo dough-layered dessert made with walnut chunks and honey, and some claim that Anastassiades’ is the only baklava in the entire city that’s really made from scratch, just as it is in the Middle East, and it certainly tastes so.
Regardless of what you order, or what Anastassiades feels like cooking for his daily special, you can be sure that it’s made in the traditional way from the freshest meats and vegetables. The other thing you can virtually count on when you come to Poseidon’s is a warm welcome and friendly visit to your table by Anastassiades himself, who’s there to make sure you get a generous helping of genuine Mediterranean (and Acadiana) hospitality along with your meal.
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