Omnivore - Discovering morels at Anis

Patio dining is well under way in our city (which, believe it or not, once made it nearly impossible for restaurants to serve diners outside). It's been about 13 years since one of my favorite restaurants-cum-patio, Anis Cafe & Bistro, opened in Buckhead (2974 Grandview Ave., 404-233-9889). For years I lunched there every Friday with friends.

I've been returning recently and was lucky enough to hit the restaurant last week when it was serving a creamy morel soup. Morels are wild mushrooms — don't eat them raw or undercooked — with a honeycomb cap whose flavor is distinctively nutty. They grow in the Pacific Northwest and in the Great Lakes region.

The soup at Anis featured the expensive 'shrooms ground up in the soup, with the occasional chunk surfacing. Since they are in season, I wish a restaurant would build a three-course meal around them, the way a restaurant in Santa Barbara, Calif., used to do.

Lunch at Anis was as good as ever. After the soup, I ate three-cheese ravioli with tomato fondue and other varieties of wild mushrooms. My friend, Chandelier, ordered a sandwich made with smoked salmon. He'd never been to Anis before and, like every other friend I've taken there, raved about the food and the pleasantly ramshackle patio, a glimpse of which you get in the accompanying photograph.

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