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Annisa or Union Square Cafe?

We have reservations at both for next week. I've never been to Anissa, and I haven't been to USC in a long time, but it was one of my favorites. Anyone been recently?

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  1. Haven't been to USC in several years. It's always been reliably good but never exciting. Annisa is a gem and has been consistently wonderful all these years, even improving over that time.

    I really hope you don't mean your intention is to cancel one of your reservations, I have to say, as has been pointed out many times on this board, it is extremely rude and presumptious to make a reservation at a very popular restaurant and hold it until a few days or a week before, preventing others from getting that res. By the time you cancel, those who had missed out will probably have made other plans and will not even be aware of the availability. You should ask your questions and make your plans BEFORE reserving.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      Very well said. Thank you for your comments on a selfish practice.

      1. Annisa is much more special than USC, even though USC is reliable and solid. The food is just better at Annisa and if cost isn't an issue, I'd recommend you go there.

          1. I made the Anissa rez for my birthday, and my husband made the USC one without telling the other. I'm going to go with my choice, Anissa.

            2 Replies
            1. re: roxlet

              You're absolved of sin.
              And Anissa is by far the better restaurant.

              1. re: roxlet

                Great choice. Have a good time.

                1. +1 on Annisa.
                  +1000 on criticism of the practice of holding more than one reservation for the same time (I know, you and your husband didn't communicated on this one and you've canceled USC).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: famdoc

                    He was obviously going for nostalgia, I was going for something we haven't tried. Annisa it will be.

                  2. Anissa. Much more solid an interesting food. More relaxed atmosphere and the price is better.

                    1. Poor Union Square cafe......

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Monica

                        Well, it's like I like Mr. Softee and all, but if it's a choice between Il Laboratorio and Mr. Softee, it's probably going to be Il Laboratorio 9 out of 10 times.

                      2. I think that's a very poor analogy. Mr. Softee is junk food.

                        Union Square Cafe is still an excellent restaurant, if less exciting than Annisa.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: ChefJune

                          I wouldn't cry for Danny Meyer... he is literally printing money at Shake Shack... There was something I read recently about how Shake Shack supported Eleven Madison through the recession.
                          Now, I I happen to like Shake Shack, it is fast food "style" with quality ingredients... but Mr Softeee may just have better profit margins than labortorio de gelato or whatever the gourmet competition is

                          1. re: dyrewolf

                            "he is literally printing money at Shake Shack". Doubtful. I think that's still illegal -- even in Manhattan, even for DM.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              Ha... very good... you are prob right on that.
                              Still, it is a cash cow.

                              1. re: dyrewolf

                                Pretty sure cash cows are illegal as well in Manhattan

                            2. re: dyrewolf

                              dyrewolf, you took the words right out of my mouth. Not only is Shake Shack hugely successful, but scoring a rez at USC is not always that easy. My friend was a walk-in during a week night recently, and had to sit at the bar.

                              1. re: roxlet

                                not to dismiss how utterly evil you are for holding two rezzies... it is summer, the city is FILLED with tourists... a prime table at USq Cafe will be refilled in no time if you gave up the rez earlier in the week (you're still very evil of course)

                                I have eaten at Union Square many times over the years.. I ate at Anissa like 2 weeks after the most recent NY Times review (lucky timing... had the rez before the review came out) and have eaten there several times as well... I think it is a wonderful place... def more special than Union Square but also pricier.. I would assign them similar Price/experience ratios.

                                1. re: dyrewolf

                                  Well, I explained about the rezzies, if you look upthread. I'm not evil; my husband and I just did not coordinate with each other.

                                  I think the price for the tasting menu at Annisa is very reasonable at $85, and the prices for entrees and apps don't look out of line at all.

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    Ummm.. I was being sarcastic... I cancel rezzies all the time.. as long as you do it in time a place that would otherwise be booked solid refills the table. If they were not booked then no one missed a table that they wanted.

                          2. We had our dinner at Annisa last night, and it was lovely. Inventive food that never veered to weird.

                            First of all, the amuse is a thing of beauty. I could have happily eaten a plateful of this delectable morsel. It is a tiny cup-shaped fried crepe batter filled with a perfect liver mousse topped by a single currant. Perfectly delicious.

                            I started with the beef tartare. I was a tiny bit anxious about the cinnamon in the mixture as described on the menu, but it gave the dish a kibbe-like vibe, as did the inclusion of tabouleh in the mixture. What I particularly liked was the bit of very spicy chile oil on the plate which added an additional dimension to the mixture. My husband had the barbecue squid with Thai basil and fresh peanuts. Like my beef, this dish also had an unexpected spicy element, which he loved. I finished my cocktail for the first course, and then switch to a glass of Languedoc for my main, which was the grilled Koji-marinated pork loin with radishes and smoked avocados. The pork was very tender, juicy and flavorful. I loved the radishes and the smoked avocado. There was also a bit of fried brown rice on the plate, which added an unexpected textural contrast. My husband went for the pan roasted chicken with pig's feet and white truffle with a glass of Chablis. That, too, was perfectly cooked and very flavorful, although he thought that mentioning pig's feet when they pretty much dissolved into the stuffing of the chicken was a case of over-sell, but he did say it was delicious.

                            We shared the fabulous beignets with pecans and salted butterscotch served with bourbon iced milk. This was also completely delicious.

                            We have read elsewhere about the noise level in the restaurant, which we did not find to be notable at all.

                            In every way, it was a beautiful meal, and I will happily return.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: roxlet

                              Thanks for the report. So glad you enjoyed it. Annisa is one of my all-time favorites.

                              1. re: rrems

                                I can understand why it would be anyone's favorite!

                              2. re: roxlet

                                Nice reporting. Your husband's dishes plus the beignets are some dishes I'd like to experience again. Throw in the bread pudding for good measure.

                                Here's to a stable rent for this one