Monday, November 2, 2009

Checking In On Prime at Anthe's

The last time I visited Prime at Anthe's, I was absolutely stunned at the difference between that visit and previous visits, when the restaurant was under different ownership. The new owners had revamped the menu and the food so that it was fresh, tasty, and honestly, much more financially accessible to the average diner. I decided that I would return to Prime at Anthe's today for lunch, a mere seven months later, to check in and see if they've been able to keep the momentum alive.

I had tried to preview their lunch menu by downloading it off of their website before I went in order to check out what would be in store for me. Unfortunately, I think their webserver might have been under strain because the website took forever to load and once it did, the rather large PDF file containing the menu just pooped out after only about 4% had downloaded. I guess I was going to have to go into this one blind.

After being seated at a small table for two by the window in the bar area, I quickly began examining the menus that the hostess had left. First, a shot of the Early Bird menu, which was also available during lunch hours:

Here was a shot of the front of the lunch menu:

And the back:

I noticed that many of the available dinner entrees from which I had to choose the last time I ate at Prime were available as lunch-sized portions at a reduced price. It occurred to me that if you are on a budget but still want to try the food, you might just consider coming for lunch instead.

As with all meals at Prime at Anthe's, the bean salad

and the basket of warm sourdough dinner rolls

are both obligatory and complimentary. I noted that the dressing for the bean salad was a little thinner in consistency this time versus last. Before I served myself a portion, I had to "refresh" the beans a bit by scooping them from the bottom of the dish onto the top to redistribute the creamy dressing. I talked about both the rolls and the bean salad in my last post, so I won't belabor you with another description. Suffice it to say that they were both very good.

After hearing my server describe the soups du jour, I decided to try one and went with a cup of the homemade chicken and rice soup:

While I don't normally comment on the crackers that go along with the soup, today they were noteworthy:

Wondering what "All Natural" meant when applied to oyster crackers, I flipped the package over and discovered that the ingredients consisted of unbleached wheat flour, water, canola oil, evaporated cane juice, salt, yeast, and baking soda. I guess that's about as all natural as you can get. I appreciated this small touch to my meal.

The soup itself was brought to the table piping hot and was quite good. Studded with chunks of shredded white and dark meat chicken, carrots, onion, celery and rice, this was a filling soup. I didn't realize how full I was until I finished the entire cup. Had I not been eager to try a sandwich off the lunch menu, I probably could've been happy with my rolls, bean salad, and cup of soup.

That being said, I was overwhelmed when my fried perch poboy platter came out:

Two thoughts popped into my head when my server sat this down on the table in front of me. First, how on earth was I going to be able to eat all that? Second, oh - my - god - the - smell - of - fresh- rosemary - coming - off - those - fries - was - amazing. Despite the Pavlovian response to dig straight into the pile of French Fries, I managed to contain myself and take a few photos first.

A close-up of the perch sandwich:

And a close-up shot of the multitude of layers comprising my quite substantial sandwich:

There was some homemade tartar sauce supplied in a small cup,

but given how moist and juicy the sandwich was already, I didn't even bother with it. I did, however, taste it on its own and the sweetness from the pickles really complimented the flavor of the tartar sauce. Had my sandwich not already come sauced with what appeared to be a chipotle aioli, I would definitely have gone to the trouble to use it.

The sandwich was excellent. It was a bit challenging to get my mouth around it, but once I did, I got juicy, creamy, crispy, tangy, and crunchy all in one bite. The Asian slaw advertised on the menu was of a vinegar, sugar, and salt variety and had more of a sweet than tangy flavor. Everything just worked so well together. I was really bummed that I could only eat half. Had my stomach not already been hurting from the sheer volume of food I had already consumed, I think my brain could've convinced me to take another bite or two.

Not to be outdone, the French Fries tossed in fresh rosemary dust and kosher salt were also outstanding:

As someone who loves ketchup with his fries, especially good fries, the thought never entered my mind even once to touch the bottle my server brought me when she dropped off my lunch. In my mind that would've been like putting A1 brand steak sauce on a perfectly cooked filet mignon. Like I mentioned earlier, I won't go on and on about the flavor of these magnificent potato gems since I already talked about them in my other post. Needless to say, they were absolutely fantastic and continue to be one of my all-time favorite preparations.

After boxing up the remaining half of my sandwich and fries, I asked for my check. Something that caught me by surprise was the inclusion of these post-meal morsels:

This was a throwback to the days of The Brown Derby from my youth. A sweet, chocolate minty way to finish the meal and freshen your breath all at the same time. I'm sure there are plenty of restaurants that still do this, but I'm still tickled when it happens to me.

Finally, I wanted to comment on a cardboard flyer that was on every table that talk about some of Prime at Anthe's ongoing specials:

The one that I think most of my gentle readers out there would be likely to take advantage of would be the "2 for $40" special on Tuesday through Thursday. From my previous post I know that this means you split an appetizer, you each get your own entree and dessert all for only $40. That sounds like a great date night to me.

I am very happy to see that even more than a half a year since my last visit, the bar remains high at Prime at Anthe's. It bothers me when a faithful reader approaches me after I've recommended a restaurant and says that their experience wasn't as good as mine. Given that on two random days six months apart I was served excellent food that also didn't completely empty my wallet, I think it is safe to say that Prime at Anthe's is still highly recommended, now for both lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, the only service I still have to check out is their Sunday brunch. Given my attendance record though, that will be another six months from now before I get back.

Anthe's on Restaurantica


BONNIE K said...

sounds outstanding. You had me hooked when you started describing the fries.

DianeS said...

The Westminster brand of crackers in your post is one of the few brands of saltine (flat or oyster) crackers that I eat.

I always loved saltines, to the point of preferring them over chips as snack when I was a kid.

All of the sudden saltines started tasting bad to me. This was in my early or mid-twenties I would say.

It wasn't until many years later that I think I figured it out.

I was served either the brand of cracker in your post or another brand that made a similar cracker and it was really good, like the saltines of the days before the flavor changed. That got me thinking and wondering and trying other saltines and revisiting the old brands. I figured out that the difference between the good tasting saltines and the bad ones was the use of hydrogenated oil; the bad ones have it while the good ones don't.

So, I'm guessing that explains the change in flavor of the two brands that I used to like but then no longer cared for.

There is another brand of good saltines and oyster crackers, whose name escapes me at the moment, that also does not use HO.

Tino said...

@BONNIE K: I know that restaurants can cycle in their quality, especially one that has been around a long time and has switched hands numerous times, but the new owners have really stepped up their game. The fries really are THAT good.

@DianeS: Isn't it funny how it's the small things, like the kind of crackers or that the butter is from a local purveyor (Sumner's) that takes a good experience and makes it great?

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