Located in the West Village, Annisa is one of the more upscale restaurants in this low key neighbourhood, but still a longtime destination for gourmands and fancy enough for a special occasion.
The chef/owner is Anita Lo, who famously defeated Mario Batali in an Iron Chef America showdown on the Food Network. The place is petite, elegant in its simplicity, with a small bar area at the entry and the dining room a few steps above and back. The staff correctly straddles the line between neighbourhood friendly and formal.
One can order a la carte or opt for a chef's surprise 5 or 7 course tasting menu. I chose the 7 course menu, but requested the famous Shanghai style soup dumpling topped with seared foie gras as an appetizer, since foie gras is now illegal in my home state of CA. My request was thankfully granted, and the dish proved to be worthy of its accolades, as was the equally regarded miso marinated sable with bonito broth and crispy silken tofu. The meal ended with some lovely pecan beignets with butterscotch filling and bourbon milk ice. The evening stroll back to our hotel (the Standard High Line) was pleasant.
This restaurant successfully combines upscale formality with a neighbourhood feel, at price points well below many "fancy" NYC restaurants. What a delight it must be for West Villagers to have such a place just a stroll away.
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