*** Update: Anisette is now CLOSED.
Having had three wonderful experiences with Anisette already (despite it being barely 1 month old), I was eager to return after a few weeks to see how things have been developing (and I had friends in town this weekend - 2 of them from France - and wanted to take them somewhere that was fun, upbeat and with good food :).
The last dinner visit had a full house, but tonight (July 3, pre-holiday evening out) was a madhouse with the bar seats all taken, and another row of people behind them milling about and drinking while waiting for their tables; I guess the good reviews and word-of-mouth got around. (^_~) I was expecting a wait, but surprisingly we were seated 10 minutes *before* our reservation time, with our table ready, which was nice.
Looking over the menu, my companions were impressed with the selection of items, and surprised that some of the items were offered in an L.A. Brasserie. We started with the Royal Plateaux de Fruits de Mer, which included 1 Poached Lobster, 8 Shrimp, 16 Oysters, King Crab Legs, 8 Clams, 8 Carlsbad Mussels. It arrived in impressive fashion, and was served with a nice variety of sauces: Mignonette, Cocktail, Marie Rose, Garlic Aioli Mayonnaise.
We started with the Oysters, the Malpeques were wonderful, so fresh and perfect. Same for the Kumamoto Oysters as well. The Clams were fresh as well, but a couple of the Clams had a piece of sand / grit in them. The Shrimp were nicely cooked, nothing standout, but nothing bad. And the Carlsbad Mussels were decent, but nowhere near the amazing Mussels we had at Comme Ca. The King Crab Legs were nice and sweet, and the Poached Lobster was perfectly cooked, better than the version I had at Comme Ca.
I let my friend from Paris order the wine to pair with this Plateaux: A wonderful bottle - 2005 Riesling, Reserve Personelle, Domaine Weinbach, Alsace. I'm not a wine aficionado, but this was one of the better Rieslings I've had, nice and crisp, and pairing nicely with all the seafood.
My appetizer came next, the classic Onion Soup with Cave-Aged Gruyere. My other companions ordered either the Onion Soup as well, or the Provencal Fish Soup that I had last time. The Onion Soup was pure decadence! The melted Cave-Aged Gruyere had a wonderful aroma, and the gooey goodness combining with the bread and Onion Soup itself was perfection. This was probably the best Onion Soup I've had in L.A., and pretty close to some of my favorites in Paris.
It should be noted that my two guests from Paris and Provence, respectively, were blown away by the Provencal Fish Soup. They said it was "very authentic" and rivaled some of their favorite interpretations of this soup back in France.
Our Entrees arrived next, starting with the Entrecote Frites (Rib-Eye Steak and Fries). I was able to sample a bit of this dish from my friend and it was a good, nicely executed Rib-Eye Steak, cooked perfectly Medium (which is how she ordered it).
My other companions ordered two dishes I've had previously (reviewed in my earlier writeup): the Duck Confit and Provencal Beef Daube. The two guests that had the Duck Confit both agreed that it was "a good version" of this classic dish, and I sampled it to see how it stood up to my last visit: It was still as good as before, but still not as good as my favorite version of this dish in Paris. But the Potatoes Lyonnaises was, again, to die for! (^_^)/ Just as amazing as I had it the first time, it was light and airy, simply cooked, but so delicious. My friend from Paris couldn't stop eating the Potatoes Lyonnaises and finished it before he was halfway done with the Duck Confit. :)
There were similar reactions with the Provencal Beef Daube, with the guest who ordered it gushing at how tender and fragrant it was (this was my favorite dish from my first dinner visit).
For my entree, I was anxious to try the famous Brasserie Burger that hrhboo, brandygirl and whatsfordinner had been praising, but sadly, it wasn't on the Dinner menu (only for Brunch and Lunch) (Oh well, that's just one more excuse to come back soon (^_~)).
Instead, I ordered their Plats Du Jour for that evening: Blanquette de Veau Printaniere (Veal Stew with Spring Vegetables). The Veal Ribs were definitely slow-cooked, and so tender you could break off pieces with a spoon. The white wine and fresh herbs were a very nice accent to the Veal itself, and what I loved about it most was that it had this wonderful savory flavor from the tender meat, delicately balanced by the extremely fresh vegetables (that Chef Giraud sources from the local Farmer's Market). I let my guests from France sample this dish, and they said it was "very good, very authentic!" Then my friend insisted I grab a piece of bread and sop up the wonderful stew with the bread like how he grew up eating this in Paris. :) This was a complex, heart-warming dish that I would definitely order again.
Finally we saved just barely enough room for dessert :), and we decided to split three of them. First up was the Vacherin Glace (Lavender Ice Cream, Strawberries) which I had last time, and it was just as fragrant and wonderful as before: The beautiful Lavender scent with the Ice Cream and Berries... delicious!
Next up was the classic Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce. The Profiteroles were a little too hard for my preference, with the Puffs being a bit too dense. The Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce, though, were delightful. :)
The final dessert was their Foret Noire (Black Forest Cake) with Griottes Cherries, Cherry Coulis. WOW! The beautiful, beautiful Chocolate pervaded every bite, perfectly complemented by the Cream and Cherry Coulis and the wine-infused bits of Cherry! Excellent!
The Service was excellent last night. Our server, Jeana, was almost as good as Yannick who took care of me the first time I went for dinner. She was professional and always refilled our Wine Glasses and Water without us having to ask. Later, during Dessert, she also refilled our Tea whenever our cups got low. Their service isn't up to say, a fine dining, Michelin 3 Star restaurant, but for a traditional Brasserie (and even in general), I thought it was excellent and far better than some of the recent nicer restaurants I've been to. Our total came out to be ~$90 per person (including the excellent wine, tax and tip already).
Anisette Brasserie continues to excel with standout food and a great atmosphere. My guests were constantly commenting on how much the ambiance and decor reminded them of brasseries in Paris (albeit Anisette was much bigger). Chef Alain Giraud came out to greet us during the dinner, and spent some time talking to my guests in French, waxing poetic about making sure he had the right fresh Fish for the Provencal Fish Soup (after they had complimented him about it). He also apologized to us for not having the Daurade Royale available that night: He wasn't happy with the quality of the fish, so he wasn't offering the Daurade for that evening.
With a fun, relaxed, and energetic atmosphere, great food and ambiance, Anisette Brasserie continues to be my current favorite new restaurant in L.A., for Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch or Dinner (^_^). Highly recommended (still)!
Rating: 9.1 (out of 10.0)
225 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: (310) 395-3200
Hours: [Brunch] Sat - Sun, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
[Lunch] Mon - Fri, 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
[Dinner] 7 Days A Week, 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday, July 4, 2008
*** Update: Anisette is now CLOSED.