Tables for Two
by Kelly Snowden, New York Observer contributor, 02/05/2009
13 Barrow St. • 212-741-6699
Annisa means "women" in Arabic, so it's probably no surprise that this restaurant overflows with nods to the fairer sex. Wineries with female winemakers or owners fill the wine list. Sensual dishes, with startling colors and contrasting textures, are prepared with painstaking French technique by chef Anita Lo, who draws inspiration from her travels around the world. A sparse but inviting dining room, with beige and salmon tones and dramatically simple floral presentations, sets off an array of interconnected booths and tables. The menu is a melting pot, referencing everything from Greece to Japan, but a thoughtful and well-orchestrated one that defies strict description. Spicy grilled eggplant with pistachios refers back to the Middle East, while miso-marinated sable over crispy-skinned, divinely slinky tofu references the Far East. Other standouts in the international list include the quail "maki" and a Korean-influenced skate. This isn't fusion for fusion's sake, but a deft mingling of preparations and ingredients. Plates can be as comforting as your mother's best efforts, like braised short ribs, while the sable and tofu combination conveys all the heat of your first kiss. The volume of business diners here is always unexpected, as this is a meal to share with someone you want to cozy up to.
Table for Two
The neutral-toned room has large circular booths and lots of nooks, the most intimate of which is Table 8. A banquette that squeezes diners in side by side, it might leave first dates short on personal space, but it's perfect for couples on a roll.
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