Let's start with Annie and Eric. Annie and Eric, who smuggled fourteen cheese -- fourteen cheeses -- in their suitcase back from Paris.
Annie, whose tearful dreams of avocados and tacos lead her from New York to the Motherstate (her term) like the scent of a pie cooling on a cartoon windowsill, and who'd hop in her car at any time of night and drive to Glendora if it's strawberry shortcake season at Donut Man. Eric, who has brought home an entire half-pig (warning you, click at your own risk, graphic pig photography, pretty gross), and from the pig has created porchetta, sausage, bacon, and (again, gnarly photos ahead) headcheese. Annie and Eric, who took me to 'inoteca for dinner when I visited them in NY, then proceeded to order salads, paninis, bottles of red, one after another, then of course the decadent truffle egg toast, something like twelve cheeses, and a bottle of prosecco, all after a day spent at the Feast of San Gennaro, which, for those uniniated into the guido-ish world of Mulberry Street, is a street fair through Manhattan's Little Italy devoted entirely to stuffing your fat face until it's twice as fat. Annie and Eric are not messing around.
So, they're in town for Christmas, Annie's called on me for brunch (along with our dear friend Samantha, herself known for some late night Donut Man outings), I know we had to do it up.
Anisette. It's French, it's fancy, it did not disappoint.
Brunch at Anisette just felt great. You walk in and immediately feel the the sliver of a restaurant's sparkly ambiance. Gorgeous Frenchy details, worn red leather banquettes, a wall lined with absinthe bottles and magnums of Veuve all the way up to the lofted kitchen. Waiters rush by with trays filled with every shape of glassware -- stems, bowls, and tiny carafes. The staff were notably smiley, as were the clientele, a fact that I must say was a little disconcerting at first, considering how much we were all paying for a casual weekend brunch. But, what the hell, it's vacation. And we have New Yorkers in our midst. We went large.
I don't remember much of what we talked about, (well, other than that we had to curb the swearing, what with the adorable child next to us playing with her croque monsieur), but my goodness, we ate. With the first round of bloody Marys, mimosas, and coffee, we ordered a small basket of flaky pastries. The croissant is the only one worth mentioning, but the basket came with jams and a perfectly piped squiggle of vanilla bean butter! Heaven! Eric, being Eric ordered himself 3 oysters, and they too were well-trimmed: served on a bed of crushed ice with a tiny bowl of mignonette. The bloody Marys were notable too, for more than just their potency -- one was all sorts of savory, with mustard, horseradish, more mignonette, and giant blue-cheese-stuffed olives, and the other, called the Farmer's Market, was a cool refreshment, with muddled cucumbers and fresh dill.
But then came food, along with another round of drinks, natch. The broth accompanying Eric's mussels was velvety with a bit of cream and lots of fresh tarragon, and Samantha's eggs benedict looked fine, but the duck confit hash was the thing. Bits of dark shredded duck had the texture of the richest jerky you've ever tried: the smallest bites were slightly chewy, bigger chunks were like butter. A 'melting' duck egg sat over top, its creamy yolk seeping through the hash as soon as I broke it open. Swoony.
Oh wait, just remembered what we talked about. We were absolutely redundant trying to get Annie and Eric to move to Los Angeles. We really need to do this more often. The Motherstate needs Annie and Eric, though I'm not sure if we can afford them.
Anisette is at 225 Santa Monica Blvd., between 2nd and 3rd st. Call for a reservation: (310) 395-3200. In addition to brunch, they're open for lunch and dinner, and have a full bar.