By Art Huckabee
Bonjour, mes amis! I’m dining at this quaint and charming café and bistro called Anis. Wish you were here! But… don’t buy an airline ticket because I’m speaking French, this place is closer than you might think.
Anis Café and Bistro occupies a converted house on a side street in the Garden Hills neighborhood of Buckhead, not the south of France. It’s full of personality and busting at the seams after enjoying over 20 years of award-winning success.
Anis does both “Café” and “Bistro” quite well. Sit outside under the covered patio and have a glass of Gousseaume Sauvignon Blanc and a plate of Mussels Marinieres, with white wine, garlic, parsley and cream. The mussels are tender and you’ll want to sop up the garlicky broth with a hunk of crusty French bread. Or order a Kronenbourg beer and a plate of Calamari Frit, nicely cooked and corn-meal dusted, with a Harissa remoulade providing a spicy kick. Yes, close your eyes and be transported to Provence. C’est si bon!
The popularity of Anis has not only caused it to physically expand to its limits with a variety of inside and outside dining options, along with a funky little bar, but also to expand its menu to dishes and price points that stretch the casualness and more forgiving atmosphere of a Café/Bistro.
Several of the dishes we tried were underdone and under seasoned not befitting of a kitchen whose dinner menu “Plats Principaux” range from $21-$33 an entrée. The service, while also suited for a casual environ, stumbled with the finer points. Orders were served in “roll call” style fashion; “Alright who had the chicken and who had the fish?” and additional glasses of wine, refills on water and additional utensils took repeated queries.
The Boeuf au Poivre, ordered by two at our table, was a fine piece of beef but both servings were undercooked, medium rare being rare and medium being medium rare. The accompanying cognac peppercorn sauce added a peppery heat but otherwise had little flavor. The Lyonnaise potatoes, roasted portabello mushrooms and sweet onions were a nice accompaniment but a meager portion for a dinner entree. The Poulet Roti, thyme roasted free-range chicken, was moist but needed seasoning and lacked a nicely browned and well-rendered skin.
The kitchen actually prepares “poisson” quite well and it was the highlight of our meal. The Truite Meuniere, a pan roasted trout with wilted greens, marinated artichokes and capers in a lemon brown butter was perfectly done, the fish flakey and firm. The Loup de Mer, the literal translation being “Wolf of the Sea”, but really a European version of sea bass, was nicely cooked and perched atop a concoction of leeks, potatoes and a saffron nage, a poaching liquid thickened with flour and butter. It was a comforting dish but light enough to still enjoy in the warmer weather.
The dessert offerings were the usual French suspects. We opted for the profiteroles and the crème brûlée; both were faithful “exemples” of each. Several of our diner’s preferences would have been that the caramel on the brulee be torch-fired just prior to serving so that it was not only crispy but warm as well.
A quick check of a favorite local airline produced round-trip ticket prices from Atlanta to France of over $2000. So save your Euros and visit Anis Café and Bistro. You’ll have a “bon moment” if you let it show you its more casual roots.
Anis Café and Bistro is located at 2974 Grandview Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30305, (404) 233-9889 It can be found online at anisbistro.com.
Art Huckabee is one of Yelp’s Elite Reviewers, as well as a pilot, gourmet cook and food lover. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.