oops, annisa was fancier than we were dressed
annisa was our plan b last night, but that is an absolutely ridiculous way to get to such an amazing place.
my husband and i are both very stylish, but we were casually dressed and felt it seated at the lovely bar. i'm pretty sure the bartender thought we were tourists from the land of nontippington, but he was kind and attentive throughout our gigantic meal despite his fears. (i say this with some degreee of certainty because when we'd finished, we told him we'd not expected such a lovely meal and after he counted his tip, our standard 30ish percent he actually told me he was quite surprised, as well.)
i could have gone home satisfied after the foie gras soup dumplings, so good i could seriously consider having them again tonight. the chicken liver amuse, presented as a "gift" was fantastic. didn't get to try my husbands mackerel, for which they substituted another fish. they told us upfront, but nothing nothing replaces mackerel, so i didn't even bother to take a taste.
my chicken with pig foot gravy peas and asparagus was amazing. i wish the skin would have been a bit crisper, but it just kept on giving, lovely spring veggies, amazing stuffing under the skin and, oh, that gravy.
on the way to the restroom, i ran into our bartender with plates of bread in his hand and he said, "oh." i realized he was about to serve our cheese plate dessert. i love a restaurant refined enough to hold the food if one of the diners is absent from the table and this place was just that; we were not served until i returned. nice touch. the cheese place had eight or ten selections arranged in order of sharpness. it was a lovely presentation and i loved the raisins on the vine served with.
the drinks were tasty,including one of the best negronis i've had in a while. ii liked that the service was a bit casual--it took the edge off such a grown up room. the bartender must have been the som, too as he was often off serving wine to tables in the dining room. however, the host looked bored most of the evening and i wondered why he wasn't helping out more.
i put annisa in the same category as aldea, elegant restaurants priced well under the quality of their food and service. you could get engaged here just as easily as you could have a lovely business dinner. just don't wear sneakers, even fashionable ones, without socks as you'll wish you were better dressed.
we've been twice in the last two years - once to celebrate an engagement (ours) and once for a birthday(family). Both times, as a couple and in a larger group, we had a great time with fantastic food. the soup dumpling and black cod w tofu in the broth with tobiko - on both visits - and a lamb with "australian flavors" from our first visit are still vividly accessible on my memory palate as some of the best food ive eaten.
its not a room that screams neighborhood or casual, but its far from stuffy and we've seen people dressed pretty casually (not the SF casual of my youth - i mean, no hoodies and t-shirts, shorts or ripped pants, but id not hesitate to wear jeans and a dressier shirt). on our second visit there were a couple of "creative types" (i hate that term but id be absolutely shocked if these guys werent in the music industry/some entertainment field) having some sort of meeting or celebration, once with what appeared to be a bored 10 year old in tow (glued to her ipad). you'd be fine dressed casually, and i actually liked the chilled out-unpretentious service, but im not picky about settings - id eat the food standing over the dumpster in the alley. go.
We've never been but, as they say, timing is everything and, as it turns out, we have reservations for Fri 5/10 to celebrate my wife's birthday with some friends who've always loved Chef Lo's food. Drinks at One If By Land first, then dinner at Annisa. Glad to see this thread reinforcing the decision. Thanks.