When you're on the prowl for reasonably priced takeout lunch options in Aspen and weary of the usual lunch rotation -Big Wrap, Johnny McGuire's, Cheese Shop, CP- check out this little sliver of a storefront next to Escobar that is as much a take-out sandwich shop as it is a bakery.
Annette's Bake Shop is a tiny space with big ambitions. At first glance, Annette's is a typical bakeshop, with neat little plates of excellent cookies, muffins, breads and bagels, but don't let that fool you; it is also a lunch spot and a good one at that.
Consult the mini chalkboard when you first walk in for a lengthy list of daily specials. The most intriguing option is what Annette calls The Secret Sandwich. It's a hold over from Annette's days as proprietor of The Popcorn Wagon. Who can resist a menu item called The Secret Sandwich? Turns out it's a New Orleans muffuletta, a sophisticated alternative to the ubiquitous Italian sub. This one is served on fresh ciabatta with olive tapenade and cured Italian meats. Deliciously salty and lightly grilled on Annette's panini press, it's a real standout.
There's also a mean Cubano sandwich, but keep in mind that Annette's spin on a Cubano is seriously spicy. Also served on her signature ciabatta, the Cubano is a medley of ham, cheese, pulled pork, crunchy pickles and a peppery pink sauce that packs a punch. Ask for the sauce on the side if spice isn't your thing. Equally satisfying is the roast beef sandwich on an excellent baguette served with zingy roasted peppers and grilled on the panini press.
On my last stop off at Annette's I ordered the Caesar salad, which was a meal by itself, even without the suggested toppings of turkey or roast beef. It is an old- fashioned Caesar that doesn't stint on the garlic or the parmesan. In the overcrowded Caesar salad arena in Aspen, this one is special.
For a bite-sized kitchen, Annette's offers a surprising number of substantial menu options: a daily soup special, a variety of big salads a surprisingly good beef and pork empanada, a departure from the Italian theme. Everything is handmade and homemade on site right before your eyes, and so much better than your mother's kitchen. It's fun being served by Annette, who is friendly and chatty and makes good suggestions when you're stumped by the menu.
The baked goods are quite tasty. Annette explained that she does a brisk cookie business in the evenings. The shop stays open until 9pm each night as she and her staff do their baking for the next morning. Watch out Paradise Bakery.
Don't go to Annette's expecting a full-service restaurant. There's barely enough room in the shop for a proper cookie display. Fortunately, there is plenty of outdoor seating and lots of fine opportunities for people watching on the mall. Make sure to stop for a snack or a secret sandwich-- and introduce yourself to Annette.
Read more reviews by William