I had a really great date the other night. It was so easy to just start up a conversation, we laughed all night, ate wonderful food in a beautiful restaurant…it honestly made me fall in love with the city all over again! I was in Sex and the City!
Mostly because, just like Sex and the City, this was a gal date. Not the kind of date where you spend hours getting your smoky eye just right, buy a new push up bra so you can rest your chin on your boobs, and order a tiny salad so you look like a dainty eater.
That girl is a liar.
No, this was a date where i slapped on some lip gloss, threw on some super comfortable leggings, and knew that I would be in for a totally gluttonous dining experience!
I met up with Grace of Gracenotesnyc.com for dinner at Anissa. She is doing this totally kick ass thing of touring all the Michelin starred restaurants in NYC…basically, the eating equivalent of the tour de France. So meeting her was kinda like meeting Lance Armstrong…except i can do what she does 🙂
Anissa is the rebirth of Anita Lo’s Chinese influenced restaurants-the first location burned down. This time around, Lo hired a feng shui expert to ensure the restaurant’s luck and prosperity. The room is small-it only seats about 50 diners-with a bar in front overlooking Barrow Street. The room itself is done in tans and creams-very soothing, and with the candles, very romantic.
As Grace and I sat down , we got bread and butter. The bread was sadly-eh. Not warm, and though the texture was good-very doughy and crusty-the taste was kinda blah. The butter-now THAT was good stuff! unsalted, room temperature, just reminding me how much I loooove dairy!
Our amuse bouche was an escargot in a pastry shell. This was my FIRST TIME eating escargots! Yep…I was a snail virgin…touched for the very first tiiiiiime…
This was FAB! I was scared that it might be rubbery or bland, but it was totally tender, and reminded me of a clam. It was very mild tasting and just blended perfectly with the lightly garlicky butter and the crisp, flaky pastry shell. It was delish! Next time I am in Paris-I am TOTALLY ordering a whole plate of these suckas and a big ole baguette to mop up the sauce!!
Grace and I ordered a la carte because we both wanted to try this dish:
Seared Foie Gras with soup dumplings and jicama
Upon arrival, this dish looked like a little piece of seared foie on top of regular old dumplings, filled with pork or veggies or whatever. Not that insanely impressive.
Then I put a dumpling in my mouth.
HOLY HEAVEN AND EARTH!
Thin and stretchy skin broke, giving way to an explosion of the most insanely foie-gras-y sensation I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. It was fatty in a not unpleasant way, and a little bit sweet and deeply meaty. I really didn’t taste the jicama, but the fact that the foie gras taste was not overpowering must have been due to the use of the light and somewhat bland jicama. The balsamic sauce decorating the plate and the perfectly seared foie on top (crusty outside, meltingly tender within) completed this dish. Was it a soup dumpling? No-not really brothy enough. Was it amazing? Um YES! GET THIS!!!
We also split the Barbecued Squid with Thai Basil and Fresh Peanuts.
The first thing I popped into my mouth was a brown thing that looked like edamame. There was edamame on the plate, so I figured this was just a different breed or something. But no, this was sweet and meaty, and salty, and…soft! Grace assured me that these were boiled peanuts!! PEANUTS?! They were so delicious and salty but in no way tasted like peanuts. Whatevs. They were gently spicy and fragrant with the Thai basil…Grace just decided to let me have these. She didn’t want to gt into a fight. Smart girl 😉
The squid was delish but kinda lukewarm. At a Michelin restaurant, there really shouldnt’ be any mistakes like temperature, right? The squid was very tender, tasted of the sea and the bbq, and was really nice with those light, fresh edamame. The touches of hoisin and sriracha really elevated the dish. This was a great preparation of squid!
While we waited for our mains, we discussed Mad Men, sample sales, and people who overshare on facebook. Yeah, I was definitely having an AWESOME first date!
Our first main course was the Veal Tenderloin and Sweetbread with Artichokes, Oyster and Black Truffle Sauces.
This was outstanding. The veal was cooked perfectly, and was tender, mild, and rich. The sweetbread was crisp and iron-y in the way only offal is. The artichokes and black truffle were so perfectly matched-light and dark tastes, bright and deep. The oysters were not particularly noticeable, but he whole dish was so buttery and well salted, that they must have figured in there. This was a totally wonderful dish. The meat and mushrooms were so wonderfully mated-the truffle scent just hung in the air as we ate the dish. Grace and I both loved this dish and I would DEF order it again.
We also split the scallops with sea urchin sauce, cucumber, and loofah.
Delish. cooked just until done, with a salty, crispy crust and a sweet, soft center. They were so sweet, and the urchin was buttery and tasted freshly of the sea. Some peopleomg cream of the sea…I think I just became sea urchin’s press agent…
Though the scallops and urchin were excellent, this was not my favorite dish of the night. It had some squid ink that I found sort of offputtingly bitter, and the cooked cucumbers were mushy and distracting from the scallops’ lovely texture. The loofah did not look like a sponge at all-it looked and tasted like glass noodles! For my enjoyment of the scallops, the price was a bit high. I definitely thought the veal was a better thought out dish.
For dessert…cause ANY great date ends with dessert…we got the Pecan and Salted Butterscotch Beignets with Bourbon Milk Ice
these were so great. Warm, dense little bombs of sugar coated, lightly salted, pecan filled goodness. The bourbon milk ice had the texture of a rock and the alcohol content of Lindsay Lohan…
I was not feeling it.
But those doughnuts…so incredibly comforting and Delicious. Like dinner at Grandma’s…if your grandma were a top rated chef with a Michelin star.
Grace wasn’t too keen on these, so you know what I say…MORE FOR ME!
We finished with these mignardises from the chef:
from right to left we have a
guava popsicle (naturally sweet, guava licious, could have eaten about 15 of these)
candied ginger(WAAAY too strong)
mint chocolate truffle(like a very decadent thin mint cookie…i liked it real good, yessiree i did)
The bill was about 120, which was a little bit pricey given the ingredients-while foie and veal are expensive, squid and sweetbreads are certainly not. There were a few missteps in the meal (bourbon ice milk, candied ginger, cooked cucumber), but far more hits (veal, doughnuts, squid, foie gras DUMPLINGS!!!) This place seems to have gone a little markup happy, but you know what? The food really was wonderful. Refined, well portioned, beautifully plated, with sophisticated Asian flavors melding with classical techniques. It was a great first date place, which is why even though Grace and I went home separately after dinner…I definitely felt like I got lucky 😉