Ainsette, Alain Giraud’s new bistro, is generating a huge amount of press. Most reviews rave and compare it to a small bit of Paris in Los Angeles. When a restaurant gets this much buzz, the question that hangs in the air is can they handle it?
First, let me mention they have no GM – they are looking, but …. They have a consultant and a lot of managers on the floor, but no one who is ultimately in charge of the front of the house. Does this hurt? Absolutely.
Second, I question why the open kitchen was put on the second floor. The first time we were there, granted only 3 days after opening, my eggs benedict were so cold and overcooked, I might as well as ordered two hard boiled eggs with a side of hollandaise.
Given the above, we still wanted to try Anisette for dinner and made an early reservation for 6:30. I chose a table that most people would consider Siberia – we were on the second floor, near the kitchen, overlooking the “scene” below. I also figured that since we were close to the kitchen and our food didn’t have to travel a culinary mile from its source; our dishes would arrive hot. Byran, our server, was knowledgeable, efficient, competent and handled all service issues perfectly. From watching the first floor madhouse, I can only assume that things were not running that smoothly. As an aside, Alain was not there Saturday night.
We ordered a dozen oysters to start – Kumamoto (perfect), Hood canal (good, but very briny), Malpeque and New Zealand Oysters – excellent.
Our next courses were all splits – one for two.
Beef Tartar, Egg Yolk, Country Bread. My husband had raved about this dish and I was really looking forward to this dish done the traditional way with cornichons, capers and onions. This wasn’t even a close second to Bistro Jeanty’s. For some reason, there was extra “sauce” that had never been incorporated into the tartar – an absolute first for us. Also, chopped onions were missing in action and someone decided to add extra Tabasco.
The extra “sauce”
Provencal Fish Soup, Pearl Pasta, Rouille – We remembered Alain’s fish soup when he was at Lavande and loved it. This didn’t disappoint – absolutely perfect with a wonderful depth of flavor and served at the perfect temperature – second floor dining is a definite plus.
Saucisee with Haricot Beans – another winner with the nod going to the beans. Many years ago, Alain made a cassoulet for us at Citrus and other than Jean Louis Palladin’s version, it won the second best version we have ever had. The beans in this dish was so reminiscent of the cassoulet beans and the sausage was delcious.
Over-all – Anisette has some definite issues to resolve. It is not cheap – $90.00 for 2 without drinks and tip. Consistency in the kitchen is definitely an issue and service is haphazard – thankfully with Bryan, not for us.