This weekend, the TS team dropped the kids with the grandparents, and decided to try a restaurant on our long wish-list of eateries without a kids’ menu. However, after a long work-week, we also wanted something more on the casual side, so we opted to try Anvil Bar & Grill.
We arrived at Anvil fairly early in the evening, and opted to sit at a booth in the bar area. Overall, the décor was nice, but somewhat confusing. The entire restaurant reminded us of an upscale Italian eatery (music included), but the bar area contains a few sports posters that seemed very out of place. We noticed that Anvil also includes a smaller menu of bar food for patrons who just want to pop in for a drink and a snack, so we assume they are going for diverse appeal in the competitive Pierremont/Line Ave. area.
We immediately snatched up a drink menu, and though the wine and specialty drink list was quite limited, all the choices were definitely better quality. N ordered a Sazerac, while S tried the Chardonnay. Both were delicious, and since it was happy hour, S’s wine was offered at a very nice discount.
For our appetizer, we were torn between the Abita onion rings and the Firecracker Shrimp but opted to try the special of the day, fresh crab claws, upon the recommendation of our server. These over-sized, steamed and chilled claws were both fresh and impressive, and were served with an aioli that complemented them well. S noted that the freshness of these claws allowed the true flavor of the crab to shine, and the usual overpowering fishy taste of frozen, processed crab was blessedly absent from this dish. Anvil provided all the implements we needed, including lemon and moist towels to clean our hands afterward. Overall, the dish was beautiful, yet simple, and we appreciated both the quality of the crab and the overall experience.
The entrée menu at Anvil is comprised mostly of Italian basics (fettuccini Alfredo, spaghetti with meatballs and a few veal dishes), seafood and steaks. However, our server also informed us of at least three specials for that particular evening. These included a couple of fish dishes, as well as veal pasta bolognaise. S. opted for a filet steak, with au gratin potatoes, while N. ordered the special fish of the day, snapper with a Beurre Blanc sauce (though Anvil also offered a crabmeat topping if we were so inclined).
S. liked her steak, though she wished that she had ordered it medium-rare instead of medium. Anvil clearly states in the menu how they prefer to cook their steaks (medium-rare being a warm, pink center), but after so many undercooked steaks at other places, both N. and S. tend to order their steaks a shade above what we really want. S. advises that, if you get a steak at Anvil, order it a level down from what you usually order….you can always send it back if it’s undercooked. S. also loved her au gratin potatoes, and was satisfied her entire meal. She ordered a glass of Merlot to go with her entrée, and was pleased with the wine as well.
N. found his snapper to be substantial, fresh, quality and it certainly surpassed his expectations. The snapper fillets were clearly of a good quality, and the simple Beurre Blanc completed both the flavor and texture of the fish. As with the earlier crab appetizer, the snapper’s freshness allowed us to appreciate the dish as it was intended to be, rather than trying to sift through soggy, fishy fillets for flavor. S. tasted the dish and liked it as well, even though she is not at all a fan of fish dishes. N. also opted for the au gratin potatoes, and he enjoyed them as much as S. did.
Anvil offered an interesting dessert menu, but we were so full at this point, we passed on their offerings. Our lack of dessert selection was not out of preference, but simply out of deference to our full bellies. However, we may try the house-made chocolate cake on our next visit.
As for service, we were more than pleased with what we received. Our server was certainly knowledgeable of both the menu and the ingredients, and she was attentive without being over-bearing. We acknowledge that the restaurant was not at all busy, so we hope that this quality extends to the atmosphere of a packed house.
The prices at Anvil are higher, so be prepared for that if you go. On average, entrees will run about $15 to $30, depending on what you order. The bar food runs about $10 to $15, so if you are inclined to drop in for drinks and a snack, the prices are average of what you will pay in the area.
Overall, we enjoyed our rare night out at Anvil. While the prices are somewhat higher than our initial expectations, we were still very pleasantly surprised by both the quality of our meal and our service.
Moral of the story? TS suggests that Anvil is worth a visit, but be discerning about what you order, keep an eye on your price point, and be sure to quiz your server on the specials.
By following these guidelines, we had a great time, sampled great food, and we plan on stopping by again soon.