George

Family defines and inspires Annabella’s Bakery and Cafe in “downtown” Richmond. Barbara and her daughter, Stacy, are the owners, assisted by Barbara’s two sisters and a cousin and sometimes even her grandsons. Her husband is known to poke around in the place, too.

Lots of people in the Richmond area encouraged us to visit Annabella’s, and we are grateful to them for that advice. This is a truly wonderful place, a place where you might go for breakfast and still be there for lunch. It’s a gathering place for the community, for sure. It’s also a place that serves creative and tasty food.

We were not surprised when our friendly server, Becky, told us she was a long-time friend of Stacy’s and felt like a member of their family.

I did think the mound of pastries (made here by Barbara and her sisters) on the counter as you enter or leave was very unfair. Boy, did those cream puffs look good. Although Linda didn’t allow me to have one, I did talk her into taking home a loaf of their wonderful rosemary bread that we’d enjoyed with our sandwiches.

It’s a small space, but you can sit at a counter or at one of about eight tables. The open kitchen allows guests to visit with the staff. The large cup of soup ($4) that started our meal was tasty. When Stacy gets there early in the morning, she’s known to look around and decide what to cook based entirely on what she sees is available that day.

I absolutely loved my turkey melt sandwich ($9.50) with turkey, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar and apple and cranberries on rosemary bread. The bread was nice and crispy, and the combination of apple, bacon and cheddar was especially flavorful.

I loved it when I heard a man exclaim behind me, “I found my hat!” He’d left it at Annabella’s some time ago and been looking for it ever since. And I was impressed when the chiropractor sitting at the counter gave someone some advice on a shoulder problem. Yup. They don’t just feed you here.

Barbara told us that the zucchini in our soup came from Cathy, a customer who ran home to bring in two zucchini and some summer squash for them.

The decorations here are wonderful from old photos of the building and town to a display of cups to a very colorful bird drawn by a local boy.

Annabella’s isn’t far off Interstate 295, and I know we’ll be taking that Richmond exit to eat here — a lot.

Linda

If you are looking for an eatery that offers food made from the heart, this is your place. Annabella’s is likely to hook you as soon as you enter and get a whiff of the enticing aroma.

There could not be a more welcoming presence than Barbara, who along with her sister produces remarkable baked goods. The cart of a variety of breads was very impressive. The pastry and breads you order at breakfast and lunch are made here daily.

Stacy is the chef who designed the menus and creates all kinds of wonderful dishes. My litmus test of a great cook is a taste of their soup. We asked for a cup of that day’s spinach, carrot and squash creamed soup ($4) to share. Most cream soups are full of cream with an accent of fresh vegetables. This one features the fresh veggies with just enough creamy broth to hold it together. It was really incredible soup with a depth of flavor. I quickly decided the next time I come I would order a cup of soup and the half a sandwich option.

The rosemary bread is held in high esteem here, so I knew I wanted that for my sandwich. One of the customer favorites is the tarragon chicken salad ($9.50), so that is just what I ordered. This housemade salad includes finely chopped chicken and is topped with red grapes, shredded carrots and lettuce. I got mine on plain bread, and you will be asked if you prefer it toasted or not.

The chicken salad was nicely accented with tarragon, and the fresh bread was great. The bread is big, so the sandwich is really big. You certainly get your money’s worth here.

This is a friendly place. Customers come in and exchange hugs with Barbara and chat with all the other workers. I overheard a table getting ready to leave who told the server, “I usually get a scone to take home.” What a good plan.

It’s comfortable enough that customers feel free to sit and visit, and many of them have their own coffee mug hanging on the back wall. There are two tables outside with a nice view of the river across the street. We hear that their breakfasts are extra special, including Stacy’s famous stuffed French toast.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.


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