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Restaurants & Bars

Anise Kendall Square -- WOW WOW

yumyum | Dec 13, 200602:59 PM     9

So, some girls needed to blow off some steam (and I really mean gossip) and so we converged on the bar at Anise last night. I had read and heard about the legendary bartender Frank, but had never met him nor tasted his concoctions. We got a good sampling last night, as all told we had:

- negroni(s)-- yep, the best in town
- dark and stormy - made with fresh ginger
- cucumber martini - not seasonal, but I saw the Hendricks and *needed* one
- winter warmer(s)- hot toddy to die for
- pisco sour - incredible
- Nor'easter - something with fresh OJ and passionfruit juice
- (something) branca -- medicinal and yet delicious

Frank is the kind of bartender who asks you what you "love" and then makes a cocktail around it. He has a lot of fun with it, and as a result, so do you at his bar.

For food we had pork dumplings, spare ribs, the "tasting menu" of five dishes -- we had pork belly, aromatic duck, rabbit, green beans with preserved vegetable, and something else. Also ordered chicken hearts, dan dan noodles and a whole fish. While a few things didn't knock my socks off (rabbit), some of the dishes were simply outstanding -- the dumplings are better than Mary Chung's suan la show chow, although I miss her cooling, crispy bed of bean sprouts. The duck is great and the green beans were my favorite (!) of the night -- seared on very high heat so they got blackened in spots and tossed with the pickles. Dan dan noodles are delicate green and topped with plenty of ground pork and scallions.

As always, the place was empty -- maybe two other tables were taken? We took over the bar area and that would always be my preference, as the main dining room is just too big (although they have turned down the lights so it's more pleasant now). I really fear this place wont make it. The chef insists on sticking with very trad Szechuan, which is great for hounds but maybe not accessible enough for people wanting to duck in for a quick bite before a film. But god I hope they make it -- it's really unlike anything else in the area. I will be doing my best by hitting Frank's bar at least once a week all winter long. What will he make me next?

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