Annie’s Burger Shack & Freehouse, Nottingham
Annie’s is a very popular Nottingham restaurant offering over thirty types of burger and a host of associated side orders and a great bar. Siggy and I were lucky enough to have lunch there on a weekday. The first sign of its popularity was the queue of people who stood shivering at the door waiting for the place to open at noon and by the time we left about an hour later the place was buzzing with families (it was half-term) and groups of students.
The menu is impressive. Almost scary. Imagine a burger and it’s probably on there – from a very simple cheeseburger to something called a Johnny Vegas burger (featuring black pudding and a homemade mini Guinness jelly doughnut Munchkin on a stick) or even a Sunday Dinner burger with chicken, Yorkshire pudding and roasties on top. I opted for a new item on the menu – a burger topped with brisket and cheese with some Cajun spiced potato wedges. Siggy opted for a The Mushroom Swiss – a burger stacked with sauteed mushrooms and topped with Swiss cheese – and curly fries. I also had a latte and a vanilla milkshake since the root beer was canned not on tap. The selection of drinks is excellent by the way.
The burgers were thin patties which were crispy on the outside, firm and slightly pink in the middle. This is not a problem – unlike some other places we’ve been to recently – it’s not a sign of undercooking. The recipe they use with beef and pork mix also includes paprika which turns the meat pink. They temperature check all their burgers to make sure they are all cooked properly. My burger was excellent and the wedges well spiced which suited me fine. The latte was as good as you would get from Cafe Nero and the milkshake, while a little on the small side, was thick and creamy. Siggy predictably left some of her burger and so I can also say that the Mushroom Swiss also tasted great.
The portion sizes are not ridiculous and I got the impression the food was rather understated and almost wholesome (if a burger and fries can be described as such). While the menu is quirky it isn’t overstated like some other burger joints and I also didn’t feel like I needed to open my belt by a notch by the time I had finished my meal. The fresh tomato and lettuce and the burger bun helped to make me feel that while I was essentially having burger and chips it probably wasn’t quite as calorific a nightmare as it could have been and indeed none of our food was greasy.
The restaurant, in the supposedly trendy Lace Market area, is welcoming and warm. The bar area, the downstairs bar and the toilets were all in good nick (apart from the restaurant toilets being out of order when we were there) and the standard of cleanliness was tip top.
There’s some interesting video footage showing on one of the walls and it helps create an authentic atmosphere of a New England dining experience. The service was also great – we were shown to a table very quickly, asked for drinks and given our drinks very quickly, and asked for our food order when the drinks were brought to our table. We were then left alone to enjoy our food, but it was easy enough to ask for and pay our bill (something that as you know can be infuriatingly painful even when you don’t have to be anywhere urgently). The music wasn’t too overbearing and while we were there they were playing Stevie Wonder.
I have absolutely no complaints about this place and just wish it was easier to get into on a weekend. We’ve tried a few times previously on a Saturday before resigning ourselves to the idea that it’s nigh on impossible to get in. On the Monday we were asked if we had made a reservation which just goes to show how popular it is.
So in conclusion, yes, Annie is okay.