The Annex opened last fall in the one-time theater on Herrin’s Park Street. Look under the old movie marquis for the silver doors to enter the restaurant. The room pops with color, as most of the furniture and decor is retro diner, all purple, green and chrome. Black and white posters adorn the expansive walls up to the high ceiling, but the entryway is cozy with a crackling fireplace (in the winter) and plush sofas for reading the paper or browsing on your laptop.
They have a self-serve selection of coffees to choose from, a large pastry case, a menu of wraps, paninis, sandwiches, flat bread pizzas, cold salads, hot pastas and even gelato. A breakfast menu is available from 7am – 11pm. Order at the counter and they hand you your coffee mug and pastry. Any menu item prepared to order will be brought to your table.
I ordered a Half Sandwich/Salad combo with half of a Cappellone Panini and a generous helping of a Mediterranean style grain salad of rice, orzo and feta among other tasty ingredients. The Cappellone Panini comes with roasted portabella mushrooms artichokes, greens, red peppers, onions and cheese. My date chose the Italian Antipasto Wrap which came LOADED with salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, capicola and provolone. Complimenting all of that Italian meat and cheese goodness were sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, artichokes and Italian dressing.
While the atmosphere at The Annex is contemporary diner, the bulk of the menu is in keeping with Herrin’s Italian roots. From the selection Italian meats, cheeses and side pastas to the offering of gelato instead of ice cream for dessert, the influence is obvious. By going with lighter fare, and focusing on the breakfast and lunch crowd, The Annex has set themselves apart from the other Italian restaurants in town. Remember their breakfast-brunch-lunch hours of 7am – 3pm (8am – 3pm on the weekends), and be sure to get there early enough to enjoy your second cup of coffee or a cup of gelato after your meal.
In fact, my only complaint about The Annex is its early closing time of 3:00pm. There have been many an evening I would have loved to pop in for a gelato or a quick panini for dinner. However, I fully understand their motives for focusing on the early crowd, and keeping their operating hours shorter. Perhaps with continued success they will expand with a dinner menu and later hours in the future. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Featured: Restaurant Report Card, May 7, 2012
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