After reading many nice things about Anisette, we finally went there for dinner last evening and were extremely disappointed with everything except our server who was very nice and capable.
First...with regard to the ambiance. I have been to France and Paris many times (10-15x), and have eaten in many bistros. I cannot recall any that was as cold and lacking in ambiance as Anisette. It is so large and the overall lack of warmth made it seem, to me and my dining companion at least, very unattractive. Sure, Parisian bistros often have small tables, especially those that attract primarily guests who may want only a glass of wine, or a coffee and a croque, a few oysters, or other snack. However, the minute tables at Anisette are a bit ridiculous for persons who want a full meal and feel reasonably comfortable. Most bistros in France are much more comfortable than Anisette, especially if they are the least bit serious about their food and want to attract a dinner crowd.
With regard the food...it was also very disappointing. We started with cocktails which were fine. Also the bread was pretty good, but certainly not memorable.
I had the pate maison and my friend had an heirloom tomato salad to start with. The pate was extraordinarily (overly) rich and creamy and not especially flavorful. Admittedly, I was expecting something more rustic and coarse, or perhaps a terrine, so I was disappointed. Nevertheless, the pate was very mediocre at best. My friends salad was likewise ok, but certainly nothing special.
For entrees, I had the moules frites and my friend had the steak frites, both of which were also just ok. True, I have recently been to Prince Edward Island in Canada, where I had freshly harvested mussels at least once a day (sometimes twice) and they were spectacular. Nevertheless, those served at Anisette were just ok. I have had much better mussels elsewhere in southern CA, most recently at Marche Moderne in Costa Mesa, and the Brussels Bistro in Laguna Beach. Similarly, my friend's steak frites was just ok...certainly nothing special.
Perhaps after reading many positive reviews on chow, and in the local press, we expected too much. In our opinion, Anisette is very mediocre and would never succeed in Paris, or even New York. We wondered if it will last in LA. For a simple bistro meal, we really prefer Mimosa in LA, and for something much more upscale, but still bistro food, Marche Moderne is way better.
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