Along the waterfront in St. Petersburg lies the Museum of Fine Arts. MG & I were going to check out the Egypt exhibition, containing over 100 pieces from ancient Egypt. In the hopes of missing most of the crowd, we got up early, threw a little breakfast down our necks and were on our way. Around the museum are a large number of restaurants. Many of them feature outdoor seating with views of the park and the little inlet of water.
The most compelling part of AnnaStella was a sign that declared fresh Beignets served within. Damn! I wish I skipped breakfast. Nevertheless, MG & I kept the place in mind and went off to the museum.
The exhibit was quite good and pretty extensive. Except for one jerk who decided to read everything aloud, ask the most inane questions of his companion (“Egyptians liked cats, right?”), make comments that had nothing to do with Egypt (“Boy, am I sore from the gym yesterday,”) speak at a volume that could only be described as obnoxious, and basically annoy the crap out of everyone within earshot, I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit.
It was time for some lunch. Back we went to the land of the beignets.
A regular order of Beignets ($3.95) features three of the little pillows. They were very tasty. They lacked the odd shapes and random crunchy parts of Cafe du Monde‘s beignets, but they were nice. Imagine a doughnut with a bit more substance and a little less yield. MG was also fond of them.
She got an order of Strawberry Crepes ($6.95). While not mind-blowing, if you are in the mood for crepes, these would serve you well. The filling is a nice mixture of preserves and solid chunks. The pastry is very light and tasty.
I also got an order of Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo ($5.95, small). It was excellent. The broth was thick and rich, the chicken was well cooked, but tender and tasty. While not bursting with shrimp, they certainly did not skimp. I would not hesitate to order this again. Even the accompanying bread was fresh and nice. There were a few other forms of gumbo on the menu, well worth checking out if they are anything like this concoction.
The vibe at AnnaStella is very laid back. There are a few tables, a couch area for dining as well as reading, and a small counter section (where MG & I sat). Photographs of New Orleans and artistic studies line the walls. It seems equally comfortable for a cup of coffee and a snack or a meal for five friends.
I was surprised that everyone that worked at AnnaStella appeared to be from an Eastern Bloc country. Their menu is decidedly cajun, and I am not aware of a large former USSR contingent in New Orleans. I realize that some readers might be saying to themselves “So what?” It’s not a big deal, but I’m sure you would raise an eyebrow if you sat down to a meal in a Chinese restaurant and a 6’5″ black man with an afro and a dashiki came out to take your order. I’m not suggesting that you would leave, but you might think “That’s interesting.”
Ethnicity and origin aside, don’t hesitate to stop in at AnnaStella Cajun Bistro. The service is friendly, the atmosphere is nice, and the food is quite good.
AnnaStella Cajun Bistro
300 Beach Drive NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701