Anise is a modern Asian eatery with a menu designed to change with the seasons and crafted for sharing, offering an array of snacks, entrées, mains, and desserts.
The new space is about to open for diners from February 2, 2024.
“Am I crazy? Maybe,” said Sid Sahrawat of adding another eatery to he and Chand’s stable of sought-after dining locations that also includes modern Indian restaurant Cassia at SkyCity and a tandoor inspired bar and restaurant, KOL, in Ponsonby.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be able to get The French Cafe experience you know and love,” says Sid of the changes.
The main restaurant will revert to its former name, The French Café, and will move its premium dining offering from the building’s main dining room to the 35-seat private dining room currently known as The French Kitchen, located across the courtyard.
The main dining area now houses Anise, a modern pan Asian eatery with a menu curated with an artful style inspired by restaurants such as Momofuku in New York and Supernormal in Melbourne.
The menu includes a selection of five snacks: Thai green curry beef short rib pies and Sid’s favourite, the black pepper crab croustade with dashi and egg yolk sauce – an ode to Singapore’s ubiquitous chilli crab dish which Sid says he enjoys every time he is in the country.
Five entrées include sweet baby corn with yuzu kosho, miso brown butter and finger lime, and buttermilk masala fried chicken sliders with ghost chilli mayo and pickle.
There are six mains on offer, including a perennial favourite in the Sahrawat household that Sid has been refining for almost two decades, Masterstock pork belly caramelised with green apple, ginger and savoy cabbage. Other large dishes include roasted shiitake mushrooms, kombu butter, sour buttermilk with a sticky soy glaze; tiger prawns with fermented pepper, yellow curry and XO; and sticky braised beef galbi (Korean short rib) with kimchi, carrot and puffed rice.
The final act features four sweet options, including a modern spin on a popular street dessert – a Thai Black sticky rice pudding. Anise’s version features puffed black rice, chewy mango, jasmine rice ice cream and burnt pavlova as a clean and cooling conclusion to the main event.
A vibrant cocktail list by bar manager Rob Chacon also features fresh, tropical, and Asian-inspired ingredients. It sits alongside a considered wine collection, designed to take guests on a journey through the modern wine movement, highlighting gems from Japan, Syria, Lebanon, China, and beyond.
The name Anise pays homage to Sid’s first cheffing job in Wellington, the name of the restaurant located where the popular Floriditas cafe and restaurant now resides.
“I’ve always been a massive fan of contemporary Asian flavours, I just love the complexity and depth in Asian cuisine,” says Sid, who has created the menu with head chef Tommy Hope.
“While I have always incorporated Asian influences in the fine dining context, I am now looking forward to diving back into the robust flavours of this region and sharing them with our diners.”
The aclaimed chef says Anise gives him the opportunity to dive into and showcase bold flavours of Asian cuisines from Indonesian to Cantonese, Thai to Japanese.
“Our kitchen team has always been diverse, and the Anise menu will be a true collaboration of different cultures.”
He says they are keeping The French Café at the heart of their offering, but know diners are looking for more diverse dining options.
“We’re so ready for this new challenge, and we’re pumped to bring more diversity to the Auckland food scene. We believe New Zealanders deserve great food and great dining experiences, and this belief drives everything we do.”
The new restaurant will add to what will become a mini dining precinct, housing a reception and bar area, the two dining areas, the private dining room, and a private dining wine cellar, all wrapped around a courtyard complete with a fireplace, herb garden and al fresco dining.
The multiple menu options currently available at Sid at the French Café will all remain as part of the new venture.
Sid at the French Café was recently named number 309 in the world and lead the New Zealand listings in the La Liste Top 1000 restaurants.