I was tasked with finding the right place for a party of six, only one of whom I knew. Four artists, two from LA, one from Santa Fe, one from NE Mass. were reuniting after many years. All had worked on Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party 20+ years ago, which is at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and was being feted this week. Thrown into the equation was the birthday of the woman who was the central figure on this occasion.
After sifting and discarding restaurants, I settled on Annisa due entirely to experiences related on Chowhound, and it was a perfect evening from start to finish. The complicated and staggered arrivals of members of our party were handled charmingly by the staff, the delay of more than half an hour in one case on a busy Saturday night didn't raise an eyebrow. We all loved the ameuses sent from the kitchen, mackerel and red pepper in tiny pastry shells. Three of us had starters, two enthused over the scallop ceviche and I just loved the much-recommended seared foie gras with soup dumplings. My first soup dumplings, I faced them with some concern knowing there was a trick to eating them but not knowing what that was. I invented my own technique, though, treating them like crawfish--you know, 'bite the heads'...but I omitted the 'suck the tails' part. They were lovely, clear flavors mingling with a little crispness of jicama.
My tablemates gave high marks to the spanish mackerel, loving the tang of arugula beneath. The skate was appreciated and I had roast chicken stuffed with pigs' foot. Odd-sounding, it was wonderful, the pigs' foot lending a gelatinous, lip-sealing quality to the chicken. My only reservation was that the sauce was too salty for my taste, although it did not spoil the dish.
This restaurant is a jewel box, cozy, with pretty lighting. Small, it doesn't feel cramped, and the service was exemplary. Our reservation was for 6 and we lingered until nine, and I started to feel a little restless knowing that our table had another booking. Still, there was no hint of pressure by the staff to move us along. It seemed a great value for the quality of the food and service, and I am glad for the good information that led us there. And Ann, the birthday girl, said it was the best birthday she ever had, so mission accomplished.