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Anise-Mediterranean From The Ouzo's Folks...

Miami Danny Nov 17, 2008 08:23 PM

Anise, off Biscayne Boulevard at 78th St (620 NE 78th Street-1 block east of Biscayne Blvd) , opens Wednesday 11/19 with an Opening Night Party from 6-10PM. Complimentary Hors d'oeuvres & Champagne, from the people who brought you Ouzo's.
RSVP to anisetaverna@yahoo.com
(For photos go to http://www.examiner.com/x-853-Miami-R...
)This is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood; and another Little River waterfront restaurant to join Red Light across the street.

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  1. Frodnesor RE: Miami Danny Nov 19, 2008 07:30 PM

    I drove by on the way home tonight and there was a nice big crowd there, cars filling the parking lot and down the street. Regretted not being able to stop in but glad to see they're back.

    1. d
      decorgal RE: Miami Danny Nov 20, 2008 05:56 PM

      Just had dinner at Anise this evening. Great dinner and nice atmosphere. So happy to have them in the neighborhood!!!

      1. Frodnesor RE: Miami Danny Nov 24, 2008 08:30 PM

        We paid our first visit to Anise over the weekend. It's nice to see our former North Beach neighbors from Ouzo's back a little closer to home (for us) after the ill-fated South Beach expedition.

        The space (which used to be Renaisa, then briefly Taj Mahal, then even more briefly, Monarch Bay) has been cleaned up, though to say it's been "refurbished" beyond a good scrubbing and a nice coat of paint would be a stretch. It does look a little more civilized than the prior incarnations, and the seating out on the Little River is pretty relaxing (though it was chilly the night we were there, so we elected to sit inside by the windows instead).

        The menu includes many items from the Ouzo's menu - greek salad, several dips, stuffed grape leaves, cheese saganaki, grilled octopus, keftedes; several grilled fish and other items incl. chicken souvlaki, lamp chops. Other items have been updated or jazzed up with broader "Mediterranean" (or more ambiguous) twists - butter lettuce salad w/ pancetta, cilantro & lime; citrus marinated mushrooms; sauteed chicken livers w/ sage; burger w/ blue cheese & arugula; NY strip w/ truffled mashed potatoes.

        We ordered a bunch of meze to try a variety of things - hummus, tzatziki, taramasalata, cheese saganaki, grilled octopus, fried calamari, an assortment of grilled sausages (Greek loukaniko, French saucisse de toulouse, French/North African merguez). The standout was probably the grilled octopus (which was a standout at Ouzo's as well), remarkably tender, a little smoky from the grill, and flavored with just a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of oregano, though everything was good. A little bowl of olives brought out as a starter is nice, though I was disappointed the olives were all pitted (texture is always better if you leave the pit in - please, trust us not to choke on it!). The fresh fish looked good (they brought around a bronzino and a dorada in an iced hotel pan for you to size up) but we'll have to save that for another day.

        The wine list is short but has a reasonably nice selection from around the world, though not much of a focus on Greece (only one white that I saw). It should be noted that they do not have a full liquor license, only beer and wine, thus no ouzo (and, perhaps, thus no "Ouzo's"), though the hostess generously brought around a sample of a Greek dessert wine after we'd finished, a Mavrodaphne.

        The food was good, I'm glad to have the Ouzo's folks back, and I'm happy to see this space - which does have a lot of appeal, on the water and all - being used well. Also excited to hear they're planning to eventually do some "event" lunches and dinners, i.e. pig roasts and lamb roasts, once they get rolling.

        But I will say that I'm not yet sold on the "pan-Mediterranean" approach. In fairness I've got to try a few things before I write it off, but I just don't see that this place is going to win a bigger audience by adding a "blue cheese & arugula burger" or truffled mashed potatoes to the menu. I don't think I'm some kind of rigid purist, but just on the food, I get more excited by Ariston's approach of embracing its heritage, doing things like writing all the menu items in Greek as well as English and stocking their wine list with lots of Greek wines (which, let me say, have made quantum leaps in quality), rather than trying to water it down.

        Putting such quibbles aside, this will be a nice addition to the neighborhood.

        -----
        Anise Waterfront Taverna
        620 NE 78th Street, Miami, FL

        7 Replies
        1. re: Frodnesor
          g
          going nowhere RE: Frodnesor Jul 3, 2009 10:38 AM

          We made our first visit last night and it appears the menu has reverted to Greek-only. No more burgers or similar fare, and the olives have pits now. The menu is kinda short now though.

          To start, we got the flaming cheese, which was fabulous. Let me repeat: fabulous. My companion had the rosemary stuffed dorade and loved it. It was perfectly cooked. I had the prawns with yogurt and fennel, which was really quite good. For $12, I was disappointed with only 2 prawns but they were reasonably sized. The Mediterranean sampler platter was good, not great. We couldn't tell much difference in the roe and hummus except for salt content. I'm not a dill fan, so I could have done without dill in the tzatziki, but that's just me. I bit into a whole clove of garlic in the baba ganoush. The pita bread was very good and plentiful. For dessert, tasty baklava. Yummy.

          The food was very good, but the highlight of the evening was the service. Our server was delightful, knowledgeable, and attentive to a level that you rarely see in Miami. She even packed up the remaining sauces from the sampler platter to-go, even going to the much-appreciated trouble of individually packing them into little containers so they wouldn't mix together in transit.

          We'll definitely be going back.

          1. re: going nowhere
            Miami Danny RE: going nowhere Aug 17, 2009 12:16 PM

            Anise now has what I consider the best mousaka in Miami. Very creamy, cheesy topping over thinly sliced layers of eggplant, etc. Waterfront dining, just downriver from Red Light.

            1. re: Miami Danny
              Frodnesor RE: Miami Danny Aug 17, 2009 01:36 PM

              Is there a lot of competition for "best moussaka in Miami"? I don't recall being wowed by Ariston's, I've never tried Maria's, and Mykonos is crappy all around. Are there potential candidates I'm not thinking of?

              Edited to add - by the way, I've really enjoyed the whole fish stuffed with rosemary, pine nuts and raisins w a drizzle of balsamic at Anise. Mrs. F also insists that their basics - the dips and so on - are better than at Ariston, though I still like the breadth of Ariston's Greek wine offerings.

              1. re: Frodnesor
                m
                mialebven RE: Frodnesor Aug 17, 2009 03:28 PM

                I haven't had moussaka in many places - but I must admit I'm pretty satisfied with the tasty version at Stoupy's in downtown. And by the way, when I drove by Coral Way two days ago, I think I noticed Maria's closed (as in out of business.) But I just saw it in a blink of an eye.

                1. re: mialebven
                  Miami Danny RE: mialebven Aug 17, 2009 05:29 PM

                  There is not a lot of competition from 'Greek' restaurants, but that's what makes it so interesting. I can think of at least a dozen diners in South Fla. that have it on the menu, some as "specials". Greek diners. There's still tons. And I love Stoupsy's. Best Greek food downtown.

                  1. re: Miami Danny
                    Frodnesor RE: Miami Danny Aug 17, 2009 06:13 PM

                    I forgot about both Stoupsy's (which is just about the only thing I miss about having my office downtown) and diner versions.

                    1. re: Frodnesor
                      m
                      mialebven RE: Frodnesor Aug 17, 2009 06:50 PM

                      Well... there's a new Greek place that may be coming up soon, in the 800 Biscayne Building. But it might be just a Greek pizza place - something I didn't realize Miami was missing until I saw a sign up on the window by the valet station "Ziggy's" with the backdrop being some Greek isles.

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