Last night my honey and I went to Annisa for our Valentine's Day special dinner. The atmosphere was wonderful -- I had seen the restaurant and thought the minimalist decor might seem cold, but the dim lighting, brightened with oil lamps on each table really created an intimate atmosphere (though neither of us had any problem reading the menu.) When we arrived, we were seated promptly.
Our waitress was very friendly -- some may have found her overly familiar -- and clearly well-versed in both the menu and the wine list. Although she was very chatty, she wasn't intrusive -- we weren't badgered by her. We decided to go with the $68 5 course tasting menu, which was a good idea. (MY SO ordered a couple of different wines by the glass which complemented the menu beautifully).
The food was really wonderful -- inventive and interesting, exactly what I expect from a good restaurant. I am a good enough cook that the new trend in "comfort food" bothers me -- if I could make a dish easily, more cheaply and better at home, I don't want to eat it in a restaurant. I want the chef to show some originality as well as technical skill. Anita Lo did not disappoint. Our first course was a tangy salad of pomelo and crab meat, with slices of monkfish liver. The sharpness and sweetness of the citrus was a perfect foil to the richness of the monkfish and the crab. The salad was simple but by no means straightforward -- there were several unidentifiable flavor elements that really made each bite surprising.
Second, we were treated to the restaurant's signature foie gras soup dumplings. We each received one dumpling -- similar flavors to Char Siu in the dumplings, topped witha piece of wonderfully crispy foie gras. It's rare to find foie gras that can get crispy without melting it away. My dining companion, having less experience with soup dumplings than I did, complained that they were somewhat difficult to eat, and his soup spilled on his plate. I would return tot he restaurant just for this dish.
Our third course was John Dory, a fish I don't see very often, with a citrus reduction. The fish was again crispy, and the reduction was not straightforwardly acidic, but deepened and intensified. There was definite sweetness, but it was balanced by the fish and the savory elements in the sauce.
Our fourth course was a beef filet with truffle sauce and bone marrow. This was probably the most "typical" dish on the menu, and the least original. The execution was so perfect, however, that I was not at all disappointed. (this was my SO's favorite dish, and my second favorite). The beef was melt in your mouth tender, with excellent beef flavor. The truffle sauce had bits of black truffles that had that wonderful, stay in your mouth flavor.
We were allowed to choose our dessert. My SO had yogurt panna cotta, with dates and sherry, which was absolutely wonderful. The yogurt was creamy and light and went perfectly with the molasses flavors of the dates and sherry. I had quince crumble with frozen souffle and sweet vouvray, which had a beautiful presentation (a small dish of quince, a small dish of the souffle, and a small glass of wine) and was very good, but could have used something to cut the sweetness of the quince and souffle.
All in all, Annisa was wonderful, and I hope to go back soon.