We're at a French bistro. Bentwood chairs, pressed-tin ceilings, old-fashioned tile. Waiters in white shirts and black ties, with long black aprons.
I'm having a classic French onion soup, topped with a toasted croute and some gruyere cheese, browned and melted. It's hot, intense, and delicious. A glass of St. Veran alongside is perfect.
A memory of last summer in Paris?
No, it's Santa Monica, California. We're cruising the Third Street Promenade, and checking out the new Santa Monica Place.
Anisette Brasserie occupies the ground floor of one of Santa Monica's most prominent landmarks. Designed by architects Albert R. Walker and Perry A. Eisen, it was built in 1929 for the Bay Cities Guaranty Company, and is a fantastic example of Art Deco style. At 12 stories, it towered over the smaller scale buildings in this beach city for many years. Even though taller buildings have since risen, it's still a landmark in town today.
You wouldn't think that there would be a natural connection between a Southern California beach town and a classic Parisian bistro. But despite the incongruity, it works. The Art Deco movement had its origins in Paris. And the style blossomed in Los Angeles.
So a classic French bistro works beneath the palm trees in Santa Monica. Don't you think so?
And the clock still works.