I had lunch at Anisette today and it was a rare pleasure to find a newly opened place that clearly already has its act together (perhaps the long gestation was worth it after all). The place is a picture perfect brasserie, with high (two-story), pressed-tin ceilings; a long, poured zinc bar (with row after row of bottles behind it, reaching up almost to the ceiling--I worry about the Methuselahs on the top shelves), at one end of which is an array of seafood on ice for the raw bar or for anyone who orders plateau de fruits de mer; tiled floors and big mirrors. Service was spot on--knowledgeable and present. Oddly, the kitchen (and the restrooms) are upstairs. There are a few tables upstairs in front of the kitchen. Seating is at small tables either on comfortable banquettes or chairs, though some of the banquettes angle in odd ways to make getting out more difficult if there is a table next to you.
There are separate menus for breakfast, lunch and (once it starts) dinner. My understanding is that Anisette intends to serve late--a much needed additional option in that area. The wine list, while not extensive, offers a number of good choices and prices by the glass (other than for champagne) were decent. While I was looking over the lunch menu, a very nice cheese roll (not as good as the one at Hatfield's, though) was brought out to keep me company but did not linger very long. Once I ordered, it was replaced by a basket of good olive and country bread with good butter--better had the bread been warmed. Unlike the pastries, which are made in-house, the breads are purchase, though I did not pick up on from where.
Deciding what to eat was not an easy decision--for one thing, the remnants of the breakfasts at the tables on either side of me looked and smelled wonderful; for another, among its many enticements, the lunch menu offered a beef daube (one of my all-time favorite Giraud dishes, and he makes one of the best daube I have ever had) but that ultimately seemed a tad too rich for lunch if I wanted to get any work done this afternoon (just discovery but still....)--I wound up ordering the onion soup and the Bistro burger. The onion soup [$11.50] did not have the crown of browned gruyere but did not lack for cheese in the soup itself, which was dark, rich and soulful not just from the beef stock and slow-cooked onions but the hit of red wine he added to the stock. This was followed by the Bistro burger [$15.75], a massive creation, cooked a point, served on a mini-loaf of what tasted like brioche, and topped with brie, pancetta and avocado--personally, I am not a fan of brie on my burger and would probably ask for its replacement or absence next time I ordered it [This is not your Father's Office, you can even add ketchup if you want!]. The burger is served with good frites, though I would have liked them a bit crisper. Desserts were tempting but, to my chagrin, I found that I had no room left so I kept those for another day. Unlike Robert Frost, I have no doubt that I will come back.
There appeared to be a few tables with restauranteurs and Farmer's Market folk and all seemed quite enthused.
Anisette is now shooting for the start of dinner service on Monday, though (to my regret) it will not be taking reservations for that night.
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