Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Annie's Burger Shack - Nottingham

It got to the stage in the new year whereby I was getting sick of hearing about Annie's. I'd seen friends burger photos on twitter and instagram, read about it on forums, had people mention them to me out of the blue on a couple of occasions during conversation - any discussion about Nottingham seemed to lead back to Annie's. Having a date planned to visit friends in the city I decided to make a reservation and see what the fuss was all about.
I initially e-mailed Annie’s to make a reservation only to receive an automatic e-mail response stating they’d get back to me in 10 (TEN!) days to confirm whether a space was available or not (it wasn’t). I then tried to call on several occasions at different times of the day but still never managed to agree a date for a table on a weekend that would be convenient for me. I appreciate that if you’re this busy then bookings probably aren’t your priority but this was driving me mad – who waits 10 days to hear whether they have a table free at a burger restaurant in the midlands and doesn’t just immediately look for an alternative? Surely if your restaurant is this popular it’s the most basic thing to just pay someone to respond to e-mails and write names in a diary or just adopt one of the many booking systems available that just does the work for you, or take bookings by phone only (and actually have someone to answer) or just say ‘no bookings’. 

So anyway, mid way through a pub crawl in the city (Nottingham is highly recommended in this regard), we wandered down expecting to see a queue of thousands of people filling the streets fighting to get in only for the main dining room to be half empty - they said they had a few bookings due to show up but the wait for a table was only 30 minutes. My attention had already been drawn to the bar which had a fantastic range of beers on – they had pretty much the full Buxton range in bottles, Blue Monkey, Tiny Rebel and Blue Monkey on cask, plus various American imports – a pretty decent mix. The deal was sealed by the bar prices which were extremely cheap for a restaurant, spirits with mixers £4-5, the Buxton bottles started at £2.50 and a pint of Adnams Broadside for £3 which is outrageous value for a pub let alone a restaurant. As with any bar or pub with a good selection of drinks at good prices Annie's even had a token old man lining up beers and chuntering away to himself (as well unsuccessfully attempting to engage everyone around him). 
Anyway, we were seated and ordered food, only to be told that the kitchen was facing a delay of around an hour for food. The place wasn't even full at this point and waiting an hour for a burger seemed a little ridiculous and resulted in them selling a few more rounds of drinks in the meantime.

The choice was 30 burgers which seemed extreme and as you'd expect they cover all bases from your standard cheese burger all the way through pizza burgers, burgers with pancakes, roast dinner burgers, reuben, surf and turf and on and on and on. If you have a favourite type of burger topping it'll almost certainly be on this list somewhere - I've included a copy of the menu at the bottom here for you to nose through.

At this point I abandoned all common sense and decided to order a pizza burger. The first sign things were about to go wrong was that they wouldn't even let me order the burger rare, how am I supposed to take a burger restaurant that won't do rare seriously? As the burgers were dished out the cogs started to slowly turn in my tiny brain and it dawned on me that the core of all of the options was exactly the same and they were obviously just churning burgers off the grill, dunking them in whatever toppings were relevant and dishing them up so no wonder they wouldn't cook to order. My pizza came lathered with mozarella and pepperoni as expected which was but fine but so much cheap parmesan was involved on the topping that I couldn’t really taste anything else, it completely numbed my taste buds it was so over the top. I ended up having to try a chunk of burger from my friends meal to fully experience the dry meat (see photo below for lack of evidence of even a hint of pink) which didn't impress me with the flavour at all. 
Photos above from the top left clockwise are of Reuben (Standard), the Broadway (Scottish sausage and grilled chicken breast), a dry burger, the Caribbean (Jerk spiced chicken burger), the Delta (probably my favourite visually, due to the fact it looked like a prehistoric lizard vomiting burger sauce all over the tray) and the Peppino Pizza (details above)

I suspect a hyped burger place is popping up in every city across the UK at the moment and with lack of many alternatives in Nottingham I can understand why it's done so well, it just wasn't for me and wouldn't get near a top 10 of burgers i've had in the UK. I could excuse my mistake of ordering the pizza burger but the dry meat was an absolute no-no and killed the whole meal for me. Underwhelming.
  Annie's Burger Shack on Urbanspoon

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