Over a year ago, while wandering around the Santa Monica Farmers Market, I noticed a lovely lady with small baskets of tiny croissants and pain au chocolat – not one to pass out on anything that pairs butter and chocolate in copious amounts, I bought a couple. They were heavenly, in the way French croissants are, so laden with butter but as light as a feather. It turned out that the adorable mini viennoiseries were a ploy to advertise a new French Brasserie that had opened on Santa Monica Boulevard, just one block from the beach. Anisette, from the anise scented liquor of the same name, is the brainchild of the French chef Alain Giraud, of Bastide’s fame and every time I happened to walk by, I made a mental note to try it. Recently remembering the croissant experience and the good reviews I had read, I finally had lunch there a few days ago.
For reasons known only to my unconscious, as I entered the restaurant I thought about this group of people I read about who eat less that the normal daily caloric intake in the certainty that is the way to prolong their lives to 100 and more. From the photos in the NY Times article, they all looked thin and extremely pale but I try to practice non judgment – although I eat in moderation (and some people might argue I eat very little) I could not go without the pleasure of food. But I am beginning to suspect my palate has entered a quite extended sabbatical and these days it is hardly ever happy, of that ecstatic joy that I many times felt in putting certain foods into my mouth. I just can’t remember the last time I ate somewhere and thought “I must come back here – I must have this again”. How is that possible?
Anisette was nice, our server was friendly and the place, at lunch, had the feel of an old French brasserie (minus the smoke), with the sun shut out by the frosted glasses and the dark furniture that really does conjure Paris. It was a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Promenade and there were no tourists to boot. Some ladies who had clearly been shopping and a bunch of business people.The lunch special menu is a steal for $16 and it includes a salad, a main entrée and a dessert – that day they happened to be a tomato salad, boeuf bourguignon and a blueberry soup with vanilla ice cream.The Pacific Salmon was perfectly cooked – flaky, slightly pink in the center with a crisp skin, it tasted terribly fresh. It was served on a bed of not so baby spinach salad with lovely, ripe and sweet grape tomatoes but the vinaigrette was a bit too pungent, marring the delicate fish flavor.The thin fries were wonderful and the bread basket lived up to expectations with a house made brioche that was beyond delicious: airy, not too sweet with a shiny top – slightly toasted and paired with the saltiness of the lox as an appetizer, it was a perfect combination.
So all was good, right? I suppose so. Just not wowed. But it might be my fault and my palate’s who seems to have taken a holiday and is just not enjoying life these days. On second thoughts, if that loaf of brioche happened to be in my kitchen right now….
225 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica Tel 310 395 3200