Anisette Brasserie - Santa Monica Resaurant Review

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Santa Monica has an ever changing and abundant mix of restaurants suited to satisfy every craving. There are a handful of landmark restaurants that have been serving the community for decades…and then there are those who pop up and then fizzle out soon after opening their doors.

In between those two extremes are the new and hip establishments with solid chefs who’ve set out to conquer the eclectic tastes of Santa Monica locals and visitors alike.

We were recently invited to Anisette Brasserie, a new-ish French restaurant in the heart of Santa Monica. Anisette opened its doors in 2008 with renowned chef Alain Giraud and top notch sommelier to offer high end French cuisine in authentic yet convenient fashion.

Upon arriving, we were greeted and promptly seated at a comfortable table near the front of the restaurant. After pleasant introductions with our server our seven course ‘tasting menu’ began.

I will start by saying that I am not big on seafood, but Mariah is and for the Insider…I will always give it a try.

To start with, Anisette has an exceptional wine selection and a great grouping of beer from different parts of the world...to suit any palate (if you are anything like me with wines make sure to flag down their renown sommelier for some help with the wine pairings.)  I started with a Stella and Mariah sipped and swirled a robust glass of Cabernet Franc.

While taking in the exceptional interior architecture and authentic atmosphere, our first course of bread was delivered to the table. There were two very nice sliced table breads along with some extremely good...cheesy puff pastry balls that we could not help but to devour. A few moments later our waitress arrived with a large, iced, platter of oysters, king crab legs and shrimp. There were 6 oysters, two from each of three different regions. Mariah was ‘all about’ the slightly smaller ones from Prince Edward Island. There were four large king crab legs that (once we were able to pry them open) were quite good – even for someone who does not really like seafood. The shrimp, though large, were …shrimp. The platter was served with an extremely good Marie Rose (French vinaigrette sauce) along with the American traditional cocktail sauce.

After doing our best to clean up the first platter we had a short break before having two large proportioned plates of steak tartar set out before us. As Mariah had never had steak tartar before, and the concept was not one that appealed to her, it took me having a big bite and saying just how good it was before she attempted her first bite. We both really enjoyed this course. The steak was chopped and mixed with a delicious fusion of oil, vinegar, dijon, capers and spicy chopped pickles. As good as it was, the portions were a bit too big, in our opinion.

The next course was…yes, back to seafood….scallops. The pan seared scallops were very large and were served with a nice accompaniment of squash and a sherry au jus.

Once through most of the scallops, we moved on to the next course of roasted Idaho trout almondine. As someone who does not really like fish…I devoured this whole plate. The trout was delicious and now may be one of my favorite meats.

Before desert, we were served one last course…prime rib eye and potatoes. (A smile came to my face when I saw this beautiful plate of meat and potatoes coming.) The steak had a great taste to it, though I found it to be a bit fatty for my palate.

By the time desert came, we were both pretty much out of room. I had no intention of eating another ounce of anything that night. Then I saw the desert platter that our waitress presented to us. Without hesitation I plunged my spoon into the, incredibly good, vanilla bean custard and topped the night off with lemon madelines and a cup of espresso.

On top of the amazing food, it was nice to see (and hear) French people filling the tables around us and enjoying their meals as well. Anisette has an intimate yet friendly ambiance.

The quality of service and culinary perfection here convinced me to try five or six foods that I had never tried and never thought I would try.

I see Anisette being a Santa Monica culinary hot spot for years to come. If you have not been or are planning to visit our little community, make sure Anisette is on your list of places to eat. I’d rate the pricing as expensive…but well worth the expense.

Anisette online

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