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French, with an L.A. accent

June 19, 2008|S. Irene Virbila | Times Restaurant Critic

FORMER Bastide chef Alain Giraud's leisurely mornings at the Santa Monica Farmers Market are a thing of the past now that Anisette, the French brasserie he's launched with Mike Garrett and Tommy Stoilkovich, is finally open.

Not to worry; his many market friends are now coming to him. The brasserie named for the anise-flavored liqueur flings open its doors at a wide awake 7:30 a.m. on weekdays for petit dejeuner. On its first market day, Anisette served 160 breakfasts, says a bemused Giraud.

How civilized to think that before or after le marche, you can amble over to this restaurant in the 1920s historic clock tower building on Santa Monica Boulevard for a French press coffee and a croissant au beurre that practically oozes butter. Or go ahead and splurge by ordering an entire basket of viennoiseries (morning pastries). Though be forewarned, they're very much on the sweet side.

If your morning routine includes a walk or run along the beach first, you might want to indulge in a big -- make that grand -- American or English breakfast. The American arrives with hash browns baked in a small cast-iron skillet with eggs any which way, thick-cut bacon and pork sausage piled on top and a fleet of buttermilk pancakes (which could be more tender) on the side. The English breakfast includes grilled tomatoes, fried bread and black pudding.

But even if you've only stopped in to pick up a take-out croissant and an American coffee, it's a distinct pleasure spending a moment or more in this former 1920s bank building. Ceiling fans twirl beneath a high pressed-tin ceiling. Bar stools are lined up along the zinc bar shipped from France. Red banquettes and distressed mirrors line the walls and the name "anisette" is spelled out in a shimmery mosaic on the floor.

Lunch starts by 11:30 a.m. with a menu of brasserie classics: beef tartar, frisee salad with lardons, pate and charcuterie, moules frites, Toulouse sausage with ragout of pole beans, entrecote with maitre d'hotel butter. Dinner, served from 5 p.m. on, expands on that theme.

Santa Monica just got a new French stage set. And while it may not be appropriate to break out that beret you bought in Paris, by all means, dress for the part. And reserve ahead. Dinner just started on Monday, but with all the interest in Giraud actually getting behind the stoves again, it may not be easy to get a table on the spur of the moment.




WHERE: 225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica

WHEN: Open for petit dejeuner Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 8 a.m.-9 a.m. Brunch: Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Lunch: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Gouter (snacks, beginning next week): Mon.-Fri., 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Dinner: daily 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Late-night supper: Sun.-Thu., 11 p.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-1 a.m.

PRICE: Breakfast items, $5.75 to $15.75; lunch appetizers, $12 to $16.75; lunch entrees, $16.50 to $22.75; dinner appetizers, $11 to $19.50; dinner entrees, $18 to $28.

INFO: (310) 395-3200;

ON THE WEB: For more photos of Anisette, go to

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