Emma Brophy meets the inspiration behind the institution
Situated a stones throw from the river on Thames Road, Lorraine Angliss opened the doors of Annie's Restaurant back in 2003 and, considering her background which spans 25 years in the restaurant trade including opening Bill Wyman's Sticky Fingers, it is clear to see why Annie's has upheld it's reputation amongst Chiswick's finest eateries.
Founder and owner of this local institution adored by residents and celebrities alike, Lorraine Angliss is as seductive and sumptuous as the restaurant she owns. One glance and it is clear to see exactly where the inspiration for Annie's decor came from. An eclectic mix of richly coloured chairs, dark wooden tables, chandeliers, cushions, candles and roses - the overall impression is one of charming shabby chic with emphasis on the chic.
"Before I even started designing the restaurant, I already knew exactly how it was going to look, feel, taste and smell – I had all the senses in my head." says Lorraine "The colours, the feel of it, and what sort of atmosphere I wanted to create. It was already in my heart and in my mind ready to be born."
Brunch, lunch and dinner are served seven days a week from 10.00am with different menus for each. One of Annie’s many claims to fame is that members of the England rugby team come in often to have one of their generous breakfasts. "We are always very generous with our portions; the thought of anyone leaving my restaurant hungry would really upset me."
From eggs benedict to a crispy bacon, oven roast tomato and little gem sandwich, the brunch menu, served between 10.00am – 12.00pm has something for everyone – even the children. The lunch menu offers a choice of delightful dishes including mussels braised with white wine or warmed goat’s cheese to start, followed by Annie’s signature dishes of Shepherd’s pie or cod and chips with batter with a batter so light, it’s almost tempura.
The dinner menu is a concoction of heartwarming fare such as beef, ale and portobello mushroom casserole with mustard mash and, a personal favourite, rib eye steak, fries and béarnaise sauce finished off with Annie’s famous sticky toffee pudding.
Lorraine explained her approach to creating such popular menus "What people really want to eat is the inspiration behind the menu. We serve beautifully cooked and presented food but with an emphasis on comfort, food you would want at home but couldn't be bothered to cook yourself. I've also got lots of healthy dishes on the menu as well as grilled fish, salads and great options for vegetarians.”
With prices averaging £6.00 for a starter and £12 for a main course, dinner at Annie’s needn’t break the bank. “I'm very price sensitive. I wouldn't want customers to pay over the odds for anything we serve. I care desperately about keeping the cost of our dishes reasonable.”
Speaking affectionately of her head chef, as she does about all her staff, Lorraine said “Our head chef is the amazing Timmy Tapper, He’s been with me from the start and is the most amazing chef I’ve worked with, not only is he a great cook, he’s a nice person. He's ex St John, so he has a really good pedigree and I feel very blessed that he is still part of the madness of Annie's.”
Although I have been a devotee of Annie's for quite some time, I still found it difficult to put into words exactly what makes this neighbourhood restaurant so special. So I asked Lorraine what she thought it was “We really do care about or customers. We offer great food in a friendly and informal atmosphere. It really is quite unique, fun and very romantic. I wanted to open somewhere unique where people would be really happy that they had arrived and enjoy the experience.”
“I tried to bring into the neighbourhood, a place for everyone. People can come just for coffee, breakfast or lunch, a couple can have cosy, romantic dinners and families can pop in and enjoy our Sunday roasts. For children we have a toy box and if they eat all their food they get one of Annie's sweeties. The appeal, I think is the home from home feeling it has. I wanted to create a local institution and that’s what I've done.”
The friendly service and atmosphere at Annie's was recently recognised by Harden's who ranked the restaurant 4th in London for service and ambiance.
January 26, 2006