Experience Diverse Dining at Anise Global Gastrobar
Global: pertaining to the whole world; universal
Gastronomy: the art and science of good eating
Fun fact about me: I really love food trucks. Going to food truck rallies, even if it means having to sweat it out in the Florida heat for food from each four-wheeled automotive, is usually the highlight of my week. In fact, my husband surprised me by coordinating for a food truck to come to our wedding for late night eats. I’m seriously about it, I tell ya! I can’t stand having to wait in a long line outside for a ride at Disney, but you make me wait in the same line length, in the same heat, for food from a food truck, and I don’t have any complaints.
I’ve experienced many a food truck, but one that I have neglected to visit and give my foodie heart to is Stinky Bunz, for which I am ashamed. I don’t have to feel too bad anymore because the owners of Stinky Bunz has opened Anise Global Gastrobar and I’ve decided to make up for lost time and become a regular. You hear that, Anise? I love you already and we’ve only just met. As the name implies, Anise takes their customers on an international journey to experience food that is a delight to eat. How can anything go wrong? It just can’t.
Not only is the food impressive, but the decor and ambiance of this place is something new altogether. It’s simple, yet complex. Elegant, yet comfortable. Dark, yet light. It’s all of these things and so much more. I do love being in downtown Tampa and so far I’ve been impressed with the restaurants I’ve visited, but being right on Ashley Drive I felt certain that Anise wouldn’t have the same cozy feel as some of my favorite haunts.
However, walking into Anise really was like I had been transported away from the bustle of one of the busiest downtown streets and into a serene locale that would bring me innovation in a glass and sophistication on a plate.
Anise has a rocking happy hour every Monday-Friday from 2:30pm-7:00pm where one can enjoy a hefty discount on select cocktails and wine. On this visit, I arrived at Anise with only a couple of minutes to spare and as my eyes grew big at every delicious booze offering, I landed squarely on the Hibiscus Margarita.
Tequila does not make my clothes come off, and therefore, I don’t shy away from spending some quality time with this liquor. Sipping this margarita, I instantly knew how crafted it was. Made with 100% agave tequila, fresh lime, and softened with hibiscus nectar, I could’ve indulged in this drink all night. Balanced, unique, and smooth, I’d recommend the Hibiscus Margarita to anyone.
You’ll gasp at this, but I don’t love the truffle flavor. I know, I know- how can this be? Well, friends, I have had one too many dishes where the truffle flavor is overpowering and it’s not fun. When you can create a dish that features a very strong flavor, yet remains balanced, you’ve done it right by me. The Truffled Tator Tots at Anise did just that. (By the way, I invariably order truffled anything when I go out to eat despite my reservations.) The truffle essence was there, but light, allowing the typical tator taste to shine through as well.
Paired with the creme fraiche with lemon and parsley, I was a goner. Light, airy, brilliant dish for something that’s usually so simple.
Anise frequently changes up their specials and on this visit, my dining companion and I opted for the Peach Caprese to share. Local fresh mozzarella, peaches, prosciutto, basil, and an anise balsamic drizzle made up this dish, and it was spectacular.
Appetizers were great, but when you can dive into the food that Anise was known for before Anise was even born, it’s a beautiful thing. Finally, after years of eating from food trucks, I can experience and pay homage to the food truck I never knew I was missing. Enter: Stinky Bunz. It’s just not right that my stomach can’t possibly fit all of this in one sitting so I had the unfortunate experience of having to leave half of my Chinese BBQ option on my plate. The horror.
For these Stinky Bunz, it’s not just that the main ingredients are wonderful and flavorful and something to remember, but the sauces and accompanying items dancing in this steamed bun are necessary for the full experience of amazing. The Chinese BBQ Pork option comes with pickled radish, the Fried Zucchini comes with crispy garlic, and the Beer Battered Shrimp was dressed with ginger aioli and papaya slaw.
The shrimp Stinky Bun was my favorite because I just couldn’t get over the batter on the shrimp and the aioli was creamy and sharp.
For my final taste of the evening, I went with the Duck Confit Tacos. If I’m going to be honest, I eyed the menu days before and had already long decided on these. Just a year ago I would never have eaten duck. I would have made some face that is not unlike when one goes to spit out a bad piece of food, I would have said “ew”, and I would have questioned the decision of my more experienced and adventurous friend who opted for this meat. I would also hang my head in shame for being a sorry excuse for a foodie, knowing all the while that it was only a matter of time before I just had to try it.
Now, it’s a wonder there are any ducks left in this world. From duck nachos to duck drummettes and now duck tacos, I am both surprised and happy that I was wrong about duck all along.
The duck tacos at Anise have pickled daikon radish, jalapenos and hoisin BBQ sauce. If you want, you can choose to order the tacos with lettuce wraps instead of shell, but when they use such a crispy shell that soaks up the juice from the duck, you can’t go wrong.
To savor the meal and the atmosphere comes easy at Anise. It’s a place you want to forego other favorites for and it’s a place where you want to make friends with the bartenders because to make drinks like that, you are just too cool for school and I want in to your circle.