Last night we had our first date night in almost a year. We went to a French brasserie called Anisette in Santa Monica, just a few blocks from the beach. It’s a relatively new place — been open about a year. I had no idea it existed. Not surprising, as I rarely get to go out to restaurants these days.
Despite the reviews on Yelp, I booked a reservation anyway — I had a good feeling about it. People on Yelp write that it is a “theme park version of a French brasserie” and “Disney does brasserie”. Of course, these same people, bizarrely, whine about the price of the food. I didn’t find it to be too expensive — the prices seemed quite reasonable. Perhaps these people are used to eating at Denny’s and that is what they are using as a comparison?
About the Disney comments — whatever! I loved the atmosphere. Similar to Balthazar in New York City. Very authentic. We felt like we were in Paris. And isn’t that what you want on a date night? To feel like you are in Paris, sipping Ricard and nibbling on a cheese plate while waiters in black ties scurry about on tiled floors?
Speaking of waiters, Yelpers also complained about the service. Our service was phenomenal. Five stars. And I don’t say that often, ya’ll. I’m pretty dang picky about service (ask anyone who has ever eaten at a restaurant with me). Pretty much every waiter’s nightmare.
But last night we had a rock star bartender who actually knew how to make a perfect Sazerac (Seth’s new favorite cocktail), and a waiter with bionic hearing who tended to our every need — almost before we knew we had a need. He knew his wines, knew his food, and was utterly charming. He even brought out glasses of Sauternes to go with the foie gras — which we didn’t even ask for.
Most Yelpers say they liked the food. That’s the one thing we agree on. The food was outstanding. We started with the trio of melt-in-your-mouth appetizers: tuna tartare, Hudson Valley foie gras, and cuttlefish ceviche. Seth, his mood elevated by the Sazerac, raved about all three (he normally doesn’t get too excited about the food) and he called the latter, “A celebration of summer.” Ha! Aptly put.
For our main course, we both got the ribeye steak with Dauphinoise potatoes and a side order of foie gras. That’s right, more foie gras, served on top of our steaks. The waiter said that for $10 extra, you can add foie gras to anything on the menu. Isn’t that marvelous? Any restaurant with a policy like this earns a gold star in my book.
In fact, I think I’ll be going back fairly often just for the foie gras. What a lovely way to get in my weekly ration of liver. Especiailly with a glass of kir. You see, since I’m planning on having another baby in the next year, I need to make sure I eat plenty of liver. We want a healthy baby with good bone structure — a wide face and high cheekbones. Ah, the sacrifices a mother must make for her offspring. 😉
For dessert, I got a cheese plate (but of course) and Seth ordered the lavender ice cream. Both were delicious.
I give Anisette four and a half stars out of five. The ambiance and the service both garnered five stars. The food was near perfect. Everything I had was delicious with one exception: I cannot recommend the gougères. If you go, don’t order them. They did not taste freshly made. Tasted like they’d been in a freezer and reheated. Disappointing. But that was the only flaw in an otherwise exceptional experience.
Oh, and one last thing about Anisette. Every Wednesday and Saturday — farmer’s market days — they open early for breakfast. I can tell you where Kate and I will be this Saturday. A little Eggs Benedict, perhaps, or, if we’re short on time, we’ll just swing by for a pain au chocolat. Or perhaps a little foie gras.