Annie’s is renowned through the Midlands as making the best burgers going. From their humble beginnings running the kitchen at the Angel pub to the large 2 floor restaurant and bar in the Lace Market they are certainly doing something right. We thought we’d go along and check out what they had to offer. This time we also bought along our friend Ken (The Third Wheel).
What they have to offer is burgers and chips. They also serve a few hot dogs but burgers are the main draw here with over 30 variations that range from simple bacon cheeseburgers to the downright weird (a Sunday lunch burger featuring meat, veg and yorkshire pudding topped with gravy). In fact there are so many options available we found it difficult to choose what to have. In the end I narrowed my selection down to the Elvis (with peanut butter and jam) and the reuben (with pickles, pastrami and sauerkraut). After visiting Katz’s Deli earlier in the year and having an amazing Reuben sandwich I decided to see if the burger could live up to its namesake.
Emily ordered the Carribean burger as she fancied chicken to beef, but upon ordering the waitress revealed that a chicken or veggie burger could be substituted on any burger which prompted a quick rethink and ordered the Kogumaza which comes topped with a spicy peanut sauce. It would be useful to make this clearer on the menu we thought.
Ken meanwhile ordered the Broadway, which is a burger topped with bacon, chicken and a sausage patty.
Despite how busy the restaurant was, our food came to us quite quickly. It all looked very impressive with burger contents spilling out of their buns. The burgers are so overloaded it’s impossible to eat with your hands without making a mess so we dug in with our knives and forks.
My Reuben burger had strong flavours of mustard and onion from the sauerkraut topping. The pastrami was tasty but I as disappointed to only get a single strip. Reuben sandwiches are renowned for layering many slices of meat, but here there was just the one. I’m sure this is more a financial consideration than a culinary choice, but as this burger cost £12.90 (compared to £9.90 for the Elvis, my second choice) I’d expected more.
Ironically for a burger restaurant, the worse part of my whole meal was the burger itself. Mine tasted dry which I wasn’t expecting. After eating juicy, tasty burgers at Five Guys my expectations had been raised and this failed to deliver. Ken however confirmed that his was juicy and after tasting mine he confirmed I had the unhappy patty. This made me think that the burgers must be pre cooked and stacked to one side rather than being made to order due to the business (which would also explain the short wait time). My skinny fries also weren’t hot enough but I realise I’m just whinging now so will move on to Emily’s burger.
Emily’s burger came looking very impressive with crispy onion bits and a sprinkling of desiccated coconut, but the proof was in the eating and the eating was unfortunately disappointing. First, the spicy peanut satay wasn’t to her taste, and although I personally thought it was interesting it I can understand why. It was too spicy, oddly flavoured and cloying – there was so much of it that it drowned the chicken breast and stuck to everything, overpowering any other flavour. The crispy onions were made soggy by the goop, a crunchy texture that would’ve been appreciated amongst the peanut tar – sorry, sauce. It would have been to some peoples taste, but the balance was completely off. What’s more, the small chicken breast, although cooked fine, was dwarfed by everything else on the plate. Cold and soggy curly fries concluded the disappointing experience.
So overall this was a mixed bag. There were a few highlights Ken’s burger) and a few disappointments (my dry burger and cold fries). We had visited Annie’s when they were based at the Navigation and we found similar issues there. This inconsistency makes us wonder why the place is always so packed. If you want a well cooked burger Five Guys have the best you can get and if you want alternative takes on burgers then surely the many BBQ restaurants throughout the city satisfy this need. Maybe it’s the crazy topping combinations and it’s reputation that keep people coming back. I’d imagine that if you’d only eaten previously at Burger King or Macdonalds this would seem amazing but I definitely don’t think this is the best burger in town. Although judging by the huge number of customers, we may be wrong.
Ken, The Third Wheel says…
With a slight hangover and eyes usually bigger than my belly, the Broadway was quite the burger to take on. Beef, chicken and sausage meat with a generous salad, thick relish and cheese to boot, it should have killed me off. I was pleasantly surprised though. Juicy beef, which was full of flavour, tender chargrilled chicken and highly seasoned sausage meat inside a perfectly toasted bun. Result? Left quite satisfied with no need for an afternoon nap and plenty of room to sample some more of Annies Ale. Third wheel score – 8/10
Overall score (average over the three experiences): 6/10
Emily, Stuart and Ken.