It is often said that Annisa is an “adult” restaurant and it is no less true for being a cliché. Annisa quietly asserts its merit with its inventive, contemporary American cuisine in a sophisticated, intimate venue in the West Village. Anita Lo was one of the first chefs in NYC to fuse French and Asian cuisines, to remarkable effect. Her French pedigree is impeccable: First in her class at École Ritz-Escoffier followed by stints at Bouley, Guy Savoy and Chanterelle. When she begins to mix in flavors from her Asian heritage and travels abroad, she creates some truly profound and original dishes, like her foie gras soup dumplings and rabbit with ramps and Japanese curry. There is also a Fluke crudo with black lime and radishes that is so clean and refreshing it can scarcely be believed and a crispy chicken breast stuffed with chanterelles and pig’s trotter.
Much has been made of the expense Lo spent on a feng shui consultant to redesign the restaurant after an electrical fire in the kitchen during the summer of 2009 completely decimated the interior. We are happy to look the other way, as with biodynamique wine making: whatever works, keep on doing it. Such nonsense calls to mind Warren Buffet's 1984 shareholder letter in which he noted that his investment philosophy works in practice, but not in theory.
The dining room is cozy: a bar area in front looking out onto Barrow Street and a cluster of seats arranged on an elevated platform behind. The design is clean, understated and romantic. Annisa is one of those rare birds – a restaurant that has contrived to be upscale without being stuffy, that serves remarkable French-Asian fusion fare without being flashy and that can double as the site for a romantic date, a business meeting or a group dinner with friends. Annisa is a restaurant that is far from unknown or unrecognized – indeed, it has won many awards and is routinely cited as one of the most popular restaurants in NYC – but we nonetheless think it deserves even more recognition.
13 Barrow St.
New York (nr. 4th St.)
212-741-6699 Mon-Sat, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun, 5:30pm-9:30pm
- Anita Lo, Chef