So we went to Annisa last night for my belated birthday dinner.
I'll get straight to it. The service was top notch. Our waiter was possibly the best I've experienced in the city or elsewhere for that matter. Generally sensitive to our needs, not intrusive just perfect.
Everything else was simply good...nothing quite reaching levels of greatness. The food, decor and even the restaurant's website fail to acheive what it is capable of. And had I been thinking clearly, I probably would have passed on a restaurant who hasn't changed its menu on its website for 6 months.
And that's what everything seemed like. Sort of half assed. The entry to the restaurant is promising...the bartender wearing a bright orange and white striped shirt and keeping things animated up front. But beyond that and once up the few stairs to the dining room everything gets bland and outdated.
The lighting is dim and romantic, helped out by some paraffin candles on the tables but I'd argue that they keep it so dim so that you don't see the wine spills on the walls and the unfinished (or was it simply not fixed) nicks in corners of the walls. And the fact that not one piece of artwork was on the barren walls, made me have the continued feeling that they were still figuring out what to do with the place.
The only "wow" factor of the evening was what the maitre d' was wearing -- a backless dress that just seemed completely inappropriate.
The food, as I mentioned earlier, was good...probably even very good (desserts) but nothing earth shattering.
Were served an amuse bouche which was a tiny red pepper and creme fraiche (I think) pastry. Very nice.
For apps, Danna had the Trumpet Mushroon Bread Pudding and I had the lobster broth with sea urchin. The bread pudding was fine...definitely earthy as it should be, and was served with half a grilled porcini mushroom. In the end it was completely eaten and was deemed very good.
The lobster broth was nearly "beefy" and hardly seafoody. The island in the middle of the bowl made of lobster, uni and bay scallops was very tasty with a new love for uni being born as a result. I've had it once before and was revolted by it. I gave it another try this evening and have been converted.
For entrees, Danna had the striped bass and I had the seared scallops. The bass was slightly overcooked and the preparation was, in general, less than exciting -- only being served with some salsify. I would recommend skipping this dish.
The scallops were seared perfectly and was served with evenly diced beets and caviar who's taste and crunch were hidden by the beet sauce it sat in. Yes, the scallops were good. No, for being the second most expensive dish on the menu ($33) was it worth it.
The desserts we chose were the kabocha tower (me) and the Chocolate pudding biscuit with banana ice cream.
The essence of kabocha squash was clearly evident...the first time during the night where the main ingredient actually popped out at you. The same goes for the banana in Danna's ice cream - but the texture of the ice cream was off, unfortunately. My dessert came with a preserved piece of ginger that was tough to eat but worth trying. A real zinger!
Petit Fours included mint chocolates, candied ginger and the cutest petit four either of us have ever had - the lychee lollipops. Excellent and very fun.
We did have a slight wine issue. Earlier in the day (see upcoming review) I had lunch (Restaurant Week) at Brasserie and had two glasses of Avinyo Cava that was delicious. Really, really nice.
Keeping with that, I went for a bottle of the Cava on Annisa's menu for dinner. Both the smell and taste were off and the lack of bubbles scared me off and so had to pass on the bottle. I hate to do this anywhere but I couldn't justify drinking something that, to me, tasted and smelled off.
The backless-dressed maitre d'/sommelier said that, despite the funny smell, it was as it should be. But she was VERY gracious toward my request to pass on it, as was the waiter, who steered me to a bottle of prosecco, which was just fine for our needs.
I'm not a master at sparkling wines, and I hope someone can set me straight on this...but neither the prosecco nor the Cava had many bubbles. I mean severely lacking them. The Cava I had earlier in the day had plenty of tiny bubbles in a long stream throughout the drinking. Is this the result of storing the champagne poorly, I don't know. But the lack of bubbles in their sparkling wines was consistent.
Overall I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. I'd expected more inventive cuisine...or at least the essence of the ingredients to have popped out more - especially for the price. The service was impeccable. And for that alone it might be worth giving it a try. But the bland room and incompleteness of the entire experience will have me look elsewhere next time.