Brunch Out @ Annabel's

Mount Lookout is quickly becoming one of our go-to locations for food in Cincinnati. If you already knew, bare with us, we don't end up going that far east too often unless we have a special destination. But, the bevy of excellent restaurants are (or is it is?) putting the neighborhood on the map. Annabel's is next door to Nectar, and with all the accolades the latter has received, and how much smaller Annabel's space is, I could imagine them developing a bit of an inferiority complex. Yet, based on the menu we saw and the food we tasted, that shouldn't be happening any time soon.

The Food: We'd glanced at the menu of Annabel's on the way out of Nectar the last time, and knew it looked good. Really studying it at brunch last Sunday, we were happy from the top to bottom. Salivation started the moment we sat down - they had a couple beautiful tarts sitting out on the counter right next to us, and the place smells fabulous.

We ordered the breakfast croissant and scrambled eggs with lump crab. The croissant for the sandwich was fantastic (it was a bummer to learn they weren't to be found in Cincinnati - they said they thought they came from Wisconsin) - flaky and buttery. With scrambled eggs, bacon, spinach, onions, tomato sauce, parsley, and romano, the sandwich has a great mix of unique and familiar flavors.

You don't even have to get the crab eggs in your mouth to taste the meat, they are so aromatic. With light, fluffy eggs, and plenty of butter (creme fraiche and dill too) there was some savory goodness on our plate. We added just a bit of salt and the flavors really popped. Annabel's doesn't skimp on the crab - sometimes its a mystery when you order something with crab trying to figure out whether or not there really is any in there. But back to the eggs - they were so juicy and creamy, and with a croissant on the side perfect for sopping up the juices.

Sarah kept "mmm"ing throughout the meal. It was very good. The server said that I probably had the cleanest plate ever. They're not very big portions, but every bite was delectable.

The Ingredients: There's nothing on the menu about local or organic ingredients, but we asked and got some more information. The server said the eggs are from a local farmer, and that local ingredients are a "big part of our restaurant." It would be great if they'd put that info on the menu too. We were also told that when the farmers market opens, basically all produce will come from there, and that they get their bacon from Kroeger and Sons at Findlay.

The Story, Setting, & Service: As I mentioned at the top, Annabel's is next door to Nectar. But, they have very little in common in terms of the decor and set up. Annabel's is cozy, and has lots of sunlight streaming in. There is cool photography (taken by the owner's father) of markets, animals, and other candid shots. They've got a couple tables outside, and if it was a bit warmer, it'd be awfully Parisian feeling to languidly dine on Mount Lookout's square.

There's a sign saying "we have parking meter timers" on the counter, a thoughtful touch that tells you they're paying attention. The accordion music on in the background adds to the French feel. Oh, and the servers are nice, smart, and attentive. All of this adds up so that it's not totally surprising that when I looked at Urbanspoon they had a 100% rating before we went. They've fallen drastically to a 98% since.

We'll definitely be heading back to Annabel's, probably more frequently if we lived in any other neighborhood than Northside. Mount Lookout vs. Northside - a good brunch battle, but it's not really a fair fight since we can walk to one and it takes 20 minutes to get to the other.

Annabel's on Urbanspoon

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