Anise proves to us that size doesn’t matter. This intimate, hidden restaurant on busy Brunswick Street serves some of the best French inspired dishes in town and has an intriguing wine list to match. It was, by far, one of the best meals I have had in Brisbane.
You would be excused for not having noted Anise before. It is cosily nestled between Gertie’s and what used to be Bellaggio – one blink and you might miss the entrance. Seating only 21 people you will be treated to some very special personalised service.
Most of the seats (17) are placed around the bar with the remaining 4 at the couch by the window. Although you have strangers on either side of you most people were quite contained and we never felt uncomfortable or disturbed. This setting really makes Anise a great place for a date or romantic evening.
It was my ‘better half’s’ birthday so there were no limits – my only condition was order whatever you want! Luckily for me, ‘better half’ is quite restrained. So we started off with two glasses of wine, a sparkling shiraz and a pinot.
Anise is as much about the food as it is about the wine – or maybe slightly more about the wine. As soon as you are seated you will be introduced to the various wine options whether it is their long by the glass list, full bottles or wine flight (where you get around 5 tastes from a particular grape or theme). The two guys behind the bar were fantastic, very keen to share their wine knowledge and to get you tasting bottles you might not usually come across.
Right, wine in place, time to look at the food menu. There are plenty of fantastic options and my only regret here was that I did not try many more of them or perhaps the degustation menu. The à la carte leads in from Amuse Bouches, through to Entrees, Mains and Desserts.
We opted to skip the entrees and head straight for the mains with dessert in sight. To be honest, the mains did take a while to prepare but neither of us really minded or paid much attention. We were comfortable, chatting and drinking away (currently on a second glass).
As soon as the mains were served my jaw dropped slightly – presentation was superb and better still the portions were quite generous (which is not always to be assumed). I ordered the lamb medallions with velvet polenta, confit onion puree and roast baby vegetables. The lamb was cooked to perfection with a soft pink centre and the polenta and onion confit not only complemented each other but happily supported the lamb.
‘Better half’ opted for the duck a l’orange, anise style, with opal chaucroute, pumpkin and bigerade sauce. I was only allowed one bite – it was that good. The duck simply melted on my tongue leaving a delicate orange aftertaste. We also ordered a side of roasted duck fat potatoes with truffle salt – it is amazing how a simple vegetable like a potato can taste this good in the right hands.
We were stuffed – really. So we waited for a while before ordering dessert. Another great thing about Anise is that we never felt rushed. No one was waiting at the door trying to take our seat. No waiter was shoving a bill on our table. We spent three hours there. When was the last time you spent three enjoyable hours in a restaurant?
Although we normally share dessert we couldn’t do that today as we were both adamant that we wanted different plates! So two desserts it was. The first was the vanilla bean crème brulee with burnt caramel ice cream and toasted almond tuille – again, simply heavenly. The second (mine, all mine) was the mulled wine poached pear with gold leaf, puff pastry and cinnamon ice cream. The profiteroles seemed quite popular with other diners and they looked amazing too, especially if you were planning on sharing.
A glass of sticky Riesling and an espresso later we were ready to roll home. I was debating whether a good enough kick down Annie Str would be enough to get me home (clearly not an option). All up, the meal with drinks costs $180, not something to do every week but fantastic for a special occasion.
If you haven’t been to Anise yet then I suggest you head there when possible. But remember to book as far in advance as you can as seating is really limited. They also do a more relaxed Sunday dinner from 5pm which might make a great option too.
Bare Essentials: European/French
A: 697 Brunswick Str, New Farm
T: 07 3358 1558