- scene: Chic and lucky locals dining for a special occasion or business dinner
- sip: Wine and Sake list, along with a full bar and some inspired cocktails
- savor: You cannot go here without getting the Miso Marinated Sable or the Foie Gras Soup Dumplings, but everything on the menu is pretty fab
- sit: It's a teeny tiny dining room, so you can't really go wrong!
- spend: $$$$
- address: 13 Barrow Street
- phone number: (212) 741-6699
- website: www.annisarestaurant.com
When you talk about the best restaurants in Manhattan, it’s rare to find someone who would say Annisa right off the bat. I would say that this is unfortunate, but at the same time, if someone did mention it, it would thoroughly impress me – which doesn’t happen too often! Hiding in a small space on sleepy Barrow Street, Annisa possesses what the Pants feel are some of the best qualities in any restaurant, let alone a NYC staple: an unpretentious menu, friendly service, and extraordinary food bundled up in a more casual, cool atmosphere.
Annisa is definitely a special occasion place, and The Pants came for a romantic dinner date all dressed up, but there’s really no reason for that. Most of the other diners, who looked more like West Village foodies than tourists, were fashionable in jeans and more comfortable (but chic) apparel. Given the size of the space, only a handful of diners can be seated at one time, which lends itself to a more intimate dining experience – and an unspoken feeling of exclusivity because landing a reservation here is still difficult after all these years!
The meal began with an amuse, and I honestly do not remember what it was, but I was definitely amused. Since all of the appetizers sounded great and my date had been here before, we went a little crazy… which at Annisa, is definitely a treat! We started with the fluke crudo, chawanmushi with morels and uni, and chef Anita Lo’s famous foie gras soup dumplings. The crudo was good, the chawanmushi fabulous, and the soup dumplings were decadent little gifts from god. The blend between modern and traditional cuisine stood out in each of these dishes, as they were seemingly traditional but packed that extra punch of deliciousness.
While still in shock that it took me so many years to get to Annisa and taste the dishes that were just in front of me, I was presented with the best fish dish I have ever eaten (Sorry Eric Ripert, I love Le Bernadin but I can only choose just one). Anyone who knows me can vouch that this is a bold statement, but I have yet to experience the shock, awe, and adoration with any other dish that I did with the Miso Marinated Sable with Crispy Silken Tofu in a Bonito Broth. The fish melts in your mouth with a subtle crisp of tofu, while the broth has little pieces of roe that pop with each bite, adding a bit of crunch and salt, and rounds off the most perfect bite of fish. Climax aside, you need to try this dish before you die.
The other entree was a grilled waygu, which I was told was perfect as well, but I couldn’t even pretend to care given the amazingness that was in front of me. I honestly don’t think you could go wrong with anything on the menu, but I will tell you to save your time and don’t order the crudo as it definitely didn’t stand out among the rest of the dishes. The desserts were also unique, with a mix of savory and sweet bites, which is always a great end to a meal – especially for someone that lacks a sweet tooth!
Lil Jon once instructed us to “Get Low,” and I couldn’t agree more – get Lo, Anita Lo, and hit up Annisa for a reservation immediately – you will thank me (and Lil Jon for being in your head the entire meal)!