The restaurant Anona, in Paris’s 17th arrondissement, is named in honor of the custard apple (annone in French), a scaly fruit that is scary-looking on the outside but sweet, creamy and vitamin-packed inside.
The analogy does not apply to the restaurant itself, which is highly attractive and inviting at first glance, with a wood-slat bar on the left and, in the main dining room, dark-wood parquet, light-wood tables, comfortable upholstered chairs, designer lighting fixtures and sound-reducing panels on the ceiling.
Chef Thibaut Spiwack, who has worked in restaurants all over the world under some of the top chefs, makes a major point of his environmental commitment on the restaurant’s website and menu, promising “gourmet, responsible and sustainable cuisine,” with local, seasonal products, waste reduction, minimal use of water and electricity, and good treatment of employees. Sounds great in theory, but my lunch-mate commented that the frequent changes of silverware would require the use of extra water to clean them. In their defense, I figured that lots of silverware could probably fit into one dishwasher load.
Our waiter showed off his prodigious memory by reciting all the dishes available on the no-choice fixed-price lunch menu. Very impressive and hard to choose from. I decided to order from the à la carte menu so we wouldn’t have the same thing, but in the end, I would say that the dishes on the lower-priced menu were every bit as good as the more expensive ones
After we were treated to two fantastic amuse-bouches, a rich fish bouillon and a piece of perfect skate with fennel and a big caper, I had a dish simply called “le maïs” (corn), which was like a deconstructed taco – a highly refined taco – with bites of wagyu beef, a crumbly corn tortilla, corn kernels, habanero chili and chimichurri. Separately, none of the ingredients, in particular, stood out, but when put together, they made a flavorful little feast.
Terry had a creamy concoction of cauliflower in various forms, including an emulsion and chips, with a “perfect egg” (cooked to perfection at low temperature) thrown in for good measure.
The only disappointment in the entire meal was the round fillet of pork in my main course, supposedly one of the tenderest parts of the animal, but in this case gnarly and impossible to cut. I struggled mightily with it but could only get a tiny taste of the meat. A shame, because the rest of the dish was lovely, with white beans, pickled mushrooms and a fresh-herb salad. I am sure that this was only some kind of slip-up, but it was a shame. I would have said something, but I was already full from eating so much of the wonderful bread made with three types of organic flour and served with delicious salted butter.
Terry, meanwhile, had no such problem with her perfectly seared rascasse (scorpionfish) with al dente vegetables and a spicy, tangy sauce.
Eating dessert here can be a humanitarian gesture if you choose the “solidaire” option. It costs a little extra (€4), but the money goes to a charity via the association Étoilés et Solidaires, and there is no compromise on quality involved: our millefeuille with figs and fabulous vanilla whipped cream was divine.
This smart restaurant is a great place for business lunches, or any lunches or dinners for that matter (although it gets pricey at dinnertime). The service was lovely and prompt, and the food creative and healthy for both customers and the environment. Go there in good conscience.