Thanks to all the posters who responded to my request for a birthday dinner. We wound up going to Anisette and enjoyed the experience.
We asked for a table upstairs to minimize the noise, and they did try an accomodate us, but it would have been a longer wait, so we instead took a table downstairs. We shared the banquette, sitting side-by-side, so that we never had to shout to hear each other. Still, as others have noted, it's a loud space.
To start, we had a sampling of four different cheeses. We weren't told what *kind* of cheeses they were, but they provided a fairly good sampling of different varieties--two soft cheeses (perhaps Camembert and a kind of Brie?), a bleu cheese, and an aged cheese, which the hubs liked the best. It came with slices of olive bread, pistachios and halved fresh figs.
Hubs got the weekly lamb special (the specials are listed by day on the menu), which came with white beans. The flavor was terrific, but he confessed the lamb was slightly overdone. Being half-Greek, he takes his lamb seriously. I had the duck confit, which was accompanied by young carrots and a potato gratin. Slivers of cornichons dotted the top of the duck, which was a nice, briny contrast to the richness of the meat. Normally, I can't finish restaurant portions because they are too big, but I was able to eat my entire entree, which gives you a small idea of the size, more akin to European sized dishes than the traditional big ol' honkin' plates here in the US of A.
For dessert, we split the Foret Noir, i.e. the Black Forest Cake. I'm a dessert maven, so this is where most meals either win or triumph for me. This night was a success. Moist, chocolatey layers of cake with a chocolate-brandied cherry buttercream between one layer, and some variety of whipped cream/creme fraiche layers, one plain, one with cherries. A drizzle of a cherry sauce around the edge of the plate, and three fresh dark cherries (where the heck did they come from this time of year?). The people at the table next to us ordered it after exclaiming in delight at its appearance.
To drink, we shared a carafe of a house red, and it was good wine at an excellent value ($14 for the carafe, versus $9/glass for the least expensive red).
Total came to somewhere a little over $100 for the both of us, not including tip. Our waiter was a very Gallic gentleman who was friendly without being unctuous.
So, again, thanks to the 'Hounds who chimed in with their suggestions. I had a lovely birthday dinner.
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