At any rate, it took a while to find time to go, and the evening did not disappoint. The gracious hostess sat us within a few minutes of our arrival, and apologized for the wait even though we were 10 minutes late for our reservation. She needn't have though, as it turned out to be the best table in the restaurant. More on that later.
As for the food, it was killer. Liz started with a shrimp cocktail that must have totaled over half a pound, with a perfect Marie Rose sauce for dipping. I started with Kumomoto oysters, tiny plump and sweet. We shared a carafe of the house white, which was perfectly adequate and very reasonably priced.
For our main courses, I stuck with the shellfish theme and had the brasserie classic moules frites, which is basically steamed mussels served in their own broth with fries on the side. The broth was a perfect garlicy white wine that was great for dipping the crisp salty fries in.
Liz had another classic, steak frites. Can you guess what it is? The hanger steak was perfectly charred on the outside, perfectly rare on the inside. It was heaven and came with a bordelaise sauce as well as the requisite fries.
After ordering coffee, tea and dessert, our amusing French waiter let us know that the creme caramel we ordered had just run out. Our second choice, the orange meringue tart that the jabbering, irritating, high-maintenance couple next to us seemed to be enjoying, was also 86'd. Damn them, they got the last one! We finally went with the black forest cake, a slice of heaven surrounded by cherry sauce. Three light layers of cake were separated by chocolate ganache, a cream layer with cherries, and a thin crisp chocolate bottom layer, all topped off with three whole cherries. The perfect ending to a delicious meal in an amazing space, for a pretty reasonable price. The chef even came to our table to say hello.
About the only thing more amazing than the food and ambiance were our neighbors. Liz had a better view, but hearing one of the women in the table of four directly next to ours made me glance over. I knew she looked familiar, but... ah, its probably nobody. Then when I turned around to look at the great space we were dining in, I saw the person sitting next to the woman that looked familiar - Tom Hanks. He and Rita Wilson and the couple they were dining with must have arrived just before us, because our courses were timed somewhat similarly, so we got a front row seat the entire meal. We only overheard snippets of their conversation, like Rita being so surprised and excited that a restaurant like Anisette was in Santa Monica. She had mussels like I did, and started with the foie gras, like I wanted. I'm not sure what Tom ate, but he has the loudest laugh I've ever heard and apparently enjoys profiteroles. They all shared a plate for dessert.
After they finished, Rita and friends needed to go to the bathroom and Tom exclaimed "Well, I'm not going to just sit here by myself!" So off they trekked to the bathroom upstairs. They were gone a while, and we suspected they had snuck out the back to avoid paparazzi or something, but neither Rita nor Tom have a drug problem, or trouble with the law, so nobody was waiting for them. They eventually came back down and while they waited for the valet, through the window I noticed Tom has that longish hair - probably for his role in the upcoming Da Vinci Code sequel (prequel?) Angels and Demons. Ick. Then we finished up ourselves, and went home to watch one of the three Netflix movies waiting for us - Charlie Wilson's War.