An FP and his wife meet their Iron Chef idol
Where to eat in NYC
My wife and I are both huge fans of the Food Network. One of the chefs that stands out is Chef Anita Lo: the first challenger to win Iron Chef America and place fourth in Top Chef Masters. One of her inspirations was her mother who was a doctor; she worked 12-hour shifts and then cooked a six-course meal for the family.
Last January, we took a weekend trip to New York City and ate at Lo’s Annisa restaurant in Greenwich Village. The word “annisa” means “women” in Arabic. The restaurant interior was decorated in a contemporary fashion with warm tones. The dim lighting made the dining experience intimate and romantic. The restaurant was full and had a dynamic energy. Our waitress was attentive and went over the menu with us.
Our amuse bouche was a tart filled with a grilled red pepper puree and topped with anchovies and chives. Its shell was so thin that when we tried to lift it, it fell apart and the puree leaked out.
My wife Carolyn’s appetizer was a dumpling filled with soup and a slice of apple, and topped with foie gras. It was served with chopsticks and a spoon. The contrast between the creaminess of the soup, crispiness of the apple and richness of the foie gras was exceptional.
I had the braised wild boar belly with unagi (freshwater eel) for my appetizer. It came with a spoon filled with a jelly sphere containing braising liquid and sliced apples. The server recommended that I start with the jelly and then proceed to the rest of the plate. The fried unagi was oily and a bit soggy. It was a bit too heavy even with the apple slices to cut the greasiness.
My wife continued with the sautéed filet of black sea bass, which was a delightful surprise. The fish was seared to perfection: crispy on the outside, moist and fluffy inside. The salsify tasted like butter-roasted potatoes, while the pomelo and pistachio sauce accented the dish nicely.
I ordered the veal and it was cooked medium rare just to my liking. The sweetbread was crispy and the oysters were small, but packed with flavour. I'm usually not a fan of foam because it’s overused by many chefs, but this foam was creamy and just the right consistency. There was a good interplay of texture, temperature and taste.
Then, out of the corner of my wife’s eye, she saw Lo talking to the hostess and going to check on a table. We couldn’t miss the opportunity so we asked the hostess if we could get a picture. A few minutes later, Chef Lo came to our table and we took a photo with our culinary idol. Afterwards, dessert was waiting for us on our table.
My wife ordered the chilled pink grapefruit, elderflower and fennel soup with almond milk jelly. She doesn’t usually order soup for dessert, but this was something she wanted to try. There were pieces of grapefruit and fennel in it and a chunk of almond-milk jelly in the middle. It tasted like grapefruit juice with a subtle hint of elderflower and fennel; I was disappointed that I couldn’t taste any almond in the milk. The citrus might have overwhelmed my taste buds.
Then we tried a tasting of chocolate and malted desserts. It consisted of chocolate lava cake, chocolate balls on top of a graham cracker, chocolate mousse and a shot of liquid chocolate. The lava cake was moist and nicely baked. The graham-cracker crumbs were hard to pick up with a spoon or fork. The chocolate mousse was rich and smooth. The shot had a chocolate-covered cereal treat in it. I had a difficult time drinking it from a straw.
Our meal ended with a trio of sweets: a refreshing mini pineapple popsicle that was a good palate cleanser, candied ginger and, finally, a piece of mint.
Overall, we felt that while the Asian-inspired appetizers were worth a try, the true stars were the entrées; they really showcased Chef Lo’s talent and creativity. The dinner was, nonetheless, a great opening act to our New York City exploration and restaurant adventures.
13 Barrow Street
New York, NY
Dinner for two about $125.
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