Nor could we fault, except on the salt issue, a scallop dinner ($17.95), broiled or baked (ours broiled). There were six portions, with a nice crust added by the broiling, served with a great side of broccolini and asparagus. But don't expect too much from the pizzas, at least judging from the basic cheese ($8.95). Ours had a little char at the bottom of the thin crust, but the rim didn't cook through, and the gooey topping didn't have a lot of flavor. It's okay grub for a night of watching sports, if our team is winning.
Annabelle's own label draft ($5) is a lawnmower pilsner (Rolling Rock is a good comparison) without a perfectly clean aftertaste, despite ice-cold temperatures. My first taste of Shock Top ($5) actually had some ice on top. This is supposed to be Anheuser-Busch InBev's answer to Blue Moon, Coors's version of a Belgian witbier flavored with orange peel and coriander. Since InBev was a Belgian company before picking up that little outfit in St. Louis, I was optimistic about this beer, but at least on a not-perfectly clean draft line, I am going back to Blue Moon (also sold at Annabelle's), which has more exaggerated citrus flavors. The wine list is familiar but relatively inexpensive. It doesn't list vintage years, and at this level doesn't really have to. An old friend, Bosca malbec ($8.50/glass; $33/bottle), showed a little bare alcohol, as cheap malbecs will do, but offered decent aroma in a good-size wine glass. A glass of milk is $2.50. Decaf coffee ($2.25) is pretty weak.
Desserts were surprisingly successful, most remarkably the "" ($5.95). Something has a name like that, you order it on a dare, but it all sort of worked (with the help of high-quality vanilla ice cream on all desserts). It's hot, the cookies are underdone like cookie dough, the peanut butter and chocolate are here and there, and terrific puff pastry goes into the mix. (Chicken pot pie lovers, take note.)
Strawberry waffle sundae ($5.95) was almost as good and novel, since the strawberries are mixed into the waffle batter. (Fried-chicken-and-waffle fans, take note.) And honey bread pudding ($5.95) was perhaps the best of the lot. It comes as homogenized wedges rather than the bread-chunk/custard style I came up on, but the flavor and richness were outstanding, and the portion would take care of four normal folks.
Service was good on two weeknight visits, one early, one late. The kitchen is faster into the dining room at dinnertime than into the bar late. The renovation is fine stone and woodwork, with windows that look out onto the street and unfortunately catch the setting sun at a mean angle around the summer solstice. Annabelle's is still finding its niche, with gestures in a lot of directions. (Cinco de Mayo? Really?) What they have is useful — anyone can find something pretty good to eat there — but only if you already are near Cleary Square, which most of us aren't very often.
Annabelle's Restaurant, located at 1300 Hyde Park Avenue in Hyde Park, is open Monday-Saturday, 4-10 pm, and Sunday, 10 am-10 pm. Call 617.910.9254.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.