Steph Siegle discovers that while Annie’s may be an institution on the Barnes food scene, it’s the smart twists on classics that keeps customers returning
I admit to being a first-time customer at Annie’s, the Barnes- based restaurant that has been serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner for 15 years. Yet I had heard so much about it, I was intrigued as to what has made it such a well-loved fixture in the area.
Walk into any restaurant and it’s the décor that creates the first impression, and Annie’s is certainly appealingly decorated – bohemian in nature, the colourful scatter cushions, mish-mash of chair designs, exposed brickwork and chandeliers dotted throughout radiate charm. The effect is of a cosy front room decorated by someone who has a good design eye and the al fresco dining area in the garden has a similar feel. The service matches this amiable feeling too, like a host welcoming you into their home. As we visited on a summer’s evening my guest and I were invited to enjoy an aperitif on the outside terrace.
What struck me most about Annie’s menu is that it features British and Mediterranean favourites, such as fish and chips, salmon fillets and pork belly, but they have taken the concept of home cooking one step further. The pork belly? Slow-cooked and maple-glazed. The salmon? Blackened and served with citrus couscous, carrot salad and harissa yoghurt.
My dinner guest and I shared two starters. There are some great vegetarian options, one of which is the arancini, served with a tangy lemon and tomato fondant that offset its mozzarella cheesiness perfectly. We also chose the jumbo prawns – big beauties cooked in lemon, chilli, garlic and olive oil (tip – pop a napkin on before digging in, as you’ll be mopping up that zesty sauce with the sourdough bread served on the side).
I opted for Annie’s famous fish pie for my main course – and to say the portion was generous is an understatement. Crammed with cod, salmon and prawns, it was the gorgeously cheesy mash that took it up a level. My dinner guest loved her choice of succulent lamb brochettes served with a lightly-toasted Mediterranean flatbread and accompanying Greek salad, declaring it on a par with the one she’d enjoyed on a recent holiday in Greece.
Tempted as we were by the classic sticky toffee pudding on the dessert menu, we were won over by the crème brûlée with its daily changing flavour – this one was amaretto, which seemed to be the right choice for a summer’s evening.
Everything about Annie’s – from the décor to the menu to the colourfully-drawn pictures by children on a wall – show this is very much a restaurant for everyone, whether that’s couples, groups of friends or families. My first impression that this restaurant is a crowd pleaser turned into a lasting impression, that’s why it’s stood the test of time.
Annie’s Barnes, 36-38 White Hart Lane, SW13 0PZ