Food Memories of Atlanta: Anis Cafe & Bistro
If you're a regular reader of Taste As You Go (and I hope you are!), then you've probably noticed that things have been relatively quiet on the blog lately. Truth be told, it's been almost two weeks since I've posted anything. I've been enjoying an extended period of time away from work (let's hear it for stockpiling PTO days!), theoretically leaving me with plenty of time to write; however, I went in the opposite direction.
I slowed down.
Rather than pressure myself into filling the publishing queue with post after post, I shied away from blogging in favor of sleeping in, reading, and relaxing. I tackled small projects around the house, spent quality time with family and friends in celebration of the holidays, and started looking ahead to the new year.
I needed to slow down. Especially since I'll be throwing myself into a whirlwind of activity (i.e. business travel and wedding planning at the "little detail" level) come January. With that in mind, I thought it would be an ideal time to look back on a business trip I took to Atlanta this past July. I discovered some lovely restaurants during my stay there, the existence of which I really shouldn't keep to myself.
Coquilles St. Jacques at Anis Cafe & Bistro in Atlanta, GA Tomato Tartare at Anis Cafe & Bistro in Atlanta, GA
Not too far from our Atlanta office, in the heart of Buckhead, is a charming restaurant located in a converted house. Had it not been for the prominent sign and the small congregation of parking valets standing in the driveway, I would have mistaken Anis Cafe & Bistro for a private residence. Despite the complimentary valet service, I parked my rental car on the street and strolled up to the restaurant, taking the time to appreciate the romantic nature of the outdoor patio. Of course, that's where I requested to sit, ignoring the fact that it was still extremely hot outside.
To start, I ordered the Coquilles St. Jacques ($12). Plump roasted Maine scallops are nestled on a bed of sweet corn, Vidalia onions, and porcini mushrooms and then finished with a drizzle of truffle honey. This dish was a treat, as I'd never had truffle honey before. It truly elevated the natural sweetness of the scallops and complimented the earthiness of the mushrooms. I enjoyed the truffle honey so much, I nearly asked my server if I could have a small container of it to take with me back to my hotel.
Now, I wasn't going to order a salad, but the Tartare de Tomato ($9) sounded so good, I changed my mind. Roasted vine-ripe tomatoes comprised the bottom layer, while fresh buffalo mozzarella made up the contrasting creamy middle layer, mellowing the full flavor of the tomatoes. Both were topped with baby arugula, and the salad was dressed with Saba vinegar and basil oil. This sophisticated take on the Caprese salad was delicious, a perfect dish for a hot summer night, though I did find the portion a little big for a second course. If you do order it, I'd recommend paying the $1.50 split-plate charge and sharing it with someone.
For my main course, I ordered the Duck Special ($24) not listed on the regular dinner menu. Here, Executive Chef Jeff Gomez roasted a duck breast that had been flavored with a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, shallots, ginger, and red wine vinegar. Once the duck came out of the oven, it was plated atop a pile of tarragon-roasted eggplant and garnished with fresh apricots. If that sounds like the dish had a lot going on, it did. For me, the fusion of Asian flavors with those of Provence felt too forced. The eggplant did little to complement the other ingredients on the plate. It was as if the components were all competing for top billing rather than working together to create a unified dish. I longed for some type of starch to cut the intensity of flavors.
As you can imagine, I was quite full by this point of the meal and ready to head back to my hotel to unwind for the night. While I was reviewing the bill, my server brought out a surprise dessert, compliments of the chef -- a bowl of their Sorbet of the Day ($6). In this case, a Strawberry Peach Sorbet showcasing local Georgia peaches.
I dug deep, set aside feelings of fullness, grabbed my spoon, and found my way to the bottom of the bowl. Although there were a combination of fruit flavors in the sorbet, the peach flavor dominated over the strawberry. And I was perfectly fine with that.
2974 Grandview Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
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