Two large doors on the corner of Preston and Cathedral streets manage to both beckon and deter. They’re mirrored so you can see yourself, but you can’t see in. “The Anonymous. Fine Dining & Lounge. Curve your Curiosity” is written on the awning above. We were indeed curious, so we opened them and stepped inside.
What we found was a stylish and surprisingly large space broken into three distinct areas: the main bar and dining room, a hookah bar, and a lounge in the basement that’s usually open on weekends. On the night we visited, it was hosting a painting event. Each offers its own flair and sense of style. The primary space features large red velvet curtains, eye-catching paintings by Cameroonian artist Awassume Mobune Epie Paul, and a faux grass wall with a large neon “The Anonymous” sign.
Neon is a favorite here. Above a line of flowers behind the bar in the hookah section is another such sign, which proclaims “Worth The Wait.” Downstairs in the lounge is a mural of a bird and yet a third neon sign that reads “The Birdcage.” The building seems familiar, perhaps because it once housed the bookstore Red Emma’s.
It all makes for a showy and stimulating atmosphere, which is what co-owner Raissa Batchankwe was going for when she opened The Anonymous in December 2022.
“Every area has its own aspect—its own vibe, its own colors, its own type of service,” she says.
Top-notch cocktails are available in every part of The Anonymous. The Baecation is Hennessey-based, with blue Curaçao, pineapple juice, and peach schnapps. The Anonymous is made with sweet red wine, orange juice, and pineapple juice. We had an excellent blueberry-basil lemonade and the Legend, a strong drink made with bourbon, melon liqueur, pineapple and cranberry juices, and Sprite. The cocktails are stiff in more ways than one; they don’t lack for liquor but they’re not cheap, ranging in price from $18-22.
The menu includes bar staples like wings and tacos (which are available for discounted prices during happy hour), but also dishes like oxtail eggrolls and sautéed crevette, which is marinated shrimp stir-fried with onion, garlic, peppers, and green onions. It’s served with rice and plantains. There are also steaks, a crab cake, fried catfish, and several sandwiches.
“Most of the food is Western or American food, but we use traditional African spices to make it a little more flavorful,” says Batchankwe, who hails from Cameroon. “We play around with the taste of it. Next year we’re looking to add more African dishes. I really want to present some authentic African cuisine.”
Located across from the Meyerhoff, The Anonymous is a much-needed addition to a neighborhood that lacks pre- and post-show food and drink options. We have a feeling it won’t be a secret for long.