I had a charming brunch at Chez Vincent the other day. Or was it Hannibal’s on the Square? Actually it was both.
As you may know, the two occupy the same building on a corner in Winter Park’s historic Westside in the area known as Hannibal Square. Chez Vincent is a wonderful classic French restaurant; Hannibal’s is a restaurant and lounge with a separate menu. However, all the food is the creation of chef Vincent Gagliano. I’ve always enjoyed Chez Vincent for its fine French cuisine served in a quiet atmosphere, suitable for a rendezvous or tete a tete, or some other get together with a French term.
And I always thought of Hannibal’s as an ultra chic lounge, with its long alabaster bar with a magic mirror (there’s a television in it that disappears when it’s turned off), the comfy lounge seating, and the almost nightly entertainment. The food at Hannibal’s tends more toward the casual, although its menu ranges from burgers (I love the lamb burger) to the more ambitious seafood and steak options.
But I learned recently that the two serve Sunday brunch, so I headed there recently to check it out. At first my companion and I took a seat on the Chez Vincent side, but when we heard there was piano music on the Hannibal’s side, we switched over there. Although the two restaurants have separate lunch and dinner menus, they both serve the same brunch fare, so we were good.
I started with an appetizer of classic escargots, firm little snails in richly flavored garlic and herb butter. The snails were delicious, but the added treat was sopping up the butter with the crusty French bread.
My friend had the onion soup, a beefy broth filled with sweet onions, topped with a crouton and with just the right amount of melted gruyere cheese.
For my entree I chose the beef Bourguignon crepe, a delicate pancake filled with bite-sized bits of tenderloin and mushrooms in a moody Burgundy sauce. It was served with crunchy pea pods and carrots and a dollop of mashed potatoes.
My friend had the eggs Benedict, beautifully poached eggs that oozed a bright orange-yellow yolk, served atop English muffins and graced with a perfect hollandaise.
With the fine service and the soft piano music (low enough that we could have a conversation), our brunch was quite enjoyable.
Chez Vincent and Hannibal’s on the Square are at 511 W. New England Ave., Winter Park. Brunch is served on Sundays. Here is a link to Chez Vincent’s website and to Hannibal’s on the Square. Chez Vincent’s phone is 407-599-2929 and Hannibal’s is 407-629-4865.