Friday, September 18, 2009
Anis Cafe & Bistro
2974 Grandview Ave., Atlanta http://www.anisbistro.com/
On Tuesday I joined a group of friends for lunch at Anis. I have been dining at Anis - for lunch only - for at least four years, and this was probably my twentieth meal there. Like Basil's, which I reviewed in July and which resides across the street, Anis has a lovely patio which dinner-goers say is particularly romantic at night. The indoor seating is also attractive, decorated in soft tones, with a very small bar area where French men can often be found sipping pastis.
For this most recent lunch I ordered the farmhouse plate ($11) , my favorite dish of those I have tried. It is an absolutely lovely combination of thinly sliced proscuitto, saucisson, pate, sweet red peppers, cornichons, olives and multiple mustards. The pate is, in my opinion, the best to be found in any restaurant in Atlanta. My friend Eliza is a big fan of the salmon salad Nicoise, which appears to have been replaced with a similar dish called Atlantic Salmon salad. Anis usually offers a quiche as a daily special, and I have found the portions to be generous and the consistency good. The Croque Monsieur ($10) meets the standard. The Roasted Tomato Tartar ($8), which is served with buffalo mozzarella and baby arugula dressed with oil and vinegar, is a good choice if you have a very small appetite. Tasty, just not enough food for me or any other person who regularly cleans his/her plate.
The desserts are also very nice. Anis often serves a pear tart which is subtle and classically French, and on Tuesday my group enjoyed the chocolate tart. While we liked the tart itself, the chocolate chip ice cream that was served alongside it was a definite standout.
Lunch is very reasonably priced, with dishes ranging between $6 for the Salad Mason to $16 for the steak and frites. The steak and frites is a grilled bistro steak sandwich with a side of thick fries. I have ordered this in the past and often find the steak a little on the tough side. Dinner is noticeably more expensive (entrees from $19 to $29), which is why I have never dined there during the evening. With such as nice lunch menu, I'm content to patronize Anis in the afternoons, especially when the weather is nice.
I think that Anis takes it's French theme a little too far in one area, and that's the service. The waitstaff is often aloof and occasionally inattentive. I have found that it is difficult to get full descriptions of any of the dishes out of my servers. Most of the time they just seem to be wishing they were anywhere else but serving you.
Anis takes reservations on opentable.com, which are sometimes unnecessary but are a very good idea in the spring and fall during the weekends. Restaurant.com also offers discount gift certificates for the restaurant.
Verdict: A lovely country French place with sub-standard service. Go for the affordable lunch and atmosphere.