Annie’s Burger Shack, Nottingham

If you ask anyone where the best burger in Nottingham is, 99% of the time you will get told ‘go to Annie’s’ (and the other 1% are just wrong).

Hailing from Rhode Island originally, Annie brings the taste of America to the rainy streets of Nottingham. Originally based within a local pub, her reputation grew to the point that she had to eventually expand into her own venue – and am I glad she did!

The first thing you notice when you walk into the ‘new Annie’s’ is vast bar, with its wide range of beers on tap. Annie admits she is a bit of a beer fan herself, so you are always guaranteed a good selection of both locally brewed beers (such as Blue Monkey) and wider-ranging breweries. If you’re not sure what to go for, just ask the bar staff who always seem happy to make suggestions. For those of you who prefer a glass of wine over a pint, make sure you try Annie’s very own selection – she has a white, red and rose. Not only do they taste good but they come with her very own personalised labels.

One of the biggest problems at Annie’s (according to Trip Advisor) is that the constant levels of demand can lead to long delays and poor service. Luckily, we saw none of that when we visited last Friday – although this may have been due to the fact we went quite early in the evening before the rush. Our waiter was friendly and enthusiastic, and managed to put up with our constant indecisions over the menu without losing his smile. Making reservations can be a bit of an issue, but they are supposed to be updating their website to combat this.

Having spent about 30minutes agonising over the menu (seriously, there are a lot of great burger options on there!) I finally settled on the monthly special ‘The Hoisin’. This is burger topped with a Chinese pancake, grilled duck breast strips and a hoisin/orange sauce, on a bed of crispy seaweed and finished with homemade candied citrus peels and curly spring onion. It’s not cheap at £12.90, but it is definitely worth it if you are after a bit of a treat.

As you can see from the picture below, presentation is another strong point. Believe it or not but there is actually a burger under that pancake! The burger was cooked a perfect medium rare (if you don’t like your burger pink make sure to tell them when you order) and the duck was crispy. I had worried that the sauce may be too sweet, but the citrus peel gave it a really tantalising freshness that I wasn’t expecting. Just make sure you have plenty of napkins as the sauce WILL go everywhere when you try to eat it – a knife and fork is not cheating when your dignity is at stake!

Sadly, this burger will only be there until the end of January but there are plenty of other interesting combinations to entice you in. Personal favourites include ‘The Elvis’ (peanut butter and jam), ‘The Deathray’ (hot chilli sauce topped with a whole scotch bonnet) and ‘The Delta’ (Mississippi burger sauce, jalapenos and onion rings).

Annie’s have just celebrated their one year anniversary in the new venue, and to celebrate they are running a ‘suggest a burger’ competition. So if you have the perfect burger combination make sure you pop in and submit your entry before it’s too late – the winner will get their burger featured on the menu. They aren’t accepting entries online so you will have to pop in, but that just gives you a perfect excuse to stop for a beer!

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Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Burgers

I don’t know about you, but after the long Christmas break (and my birthday) I was desperate for some fresh home-cooked meals with lots of veg! D and I were both off work for the whole Christmas period which just meant a contstant stream of eating out, drinks with friends and family dinners – with plenty of grazing on christmas goodies along the way.

As fun as it all was at the time (I mean, who doesn’t love a slice of pork pie slathered in stilton?!), suddenly my waist band is feeling a little tight and I think it’s time to start thinking about what I eat a little bit more carefully!

Luckily, thanks to the guys over at Able and Cole I now have a fridge full of fresh organically grown veg. If you haven’t tried a fruit/veg delivery before I would absolutely recommend it – not only does it taste better but I find we are saving more money because we have to go food shopping less (I just make do with the leftovers in the fridge until the next delivery arrives).

But I still need to make food which is substantial enough for D, and doesn’t feel like ‘diet food’. That’s why these veggie burgers are so good – he can have them in a burger bun, or flat wrap, and I can have them in lettuce leaves. It really is a flexible dish – add as many toppings as you like. We went for chill sauce and mayo, with jalapenos and salad, but I think avocado would be a really good addition too if you want to bulk it out a bit – and lots of vitamins and good oils in there too.

Microwaving the butternut squash makes this a really simple, healthy, mid-week recipe. If you don’t have a microwave then I would just roast the squash in chunks for about 40mins, until it is soft and mashable. Adding the crushed tortilla chips may seem a bit odd – but it meant that the burgers had a nice crisp to them and helped them to hold their shape. It also gave them a slightly Mexican taste, which with the added toppings ,worked really well.

This made 6 normal size burgers, but I found they were quite slow to cook so I have suggested making 12 mini burgers instead. If you did want to make normal size burgers just bear in mind the additional time it may need. Alternatively, if you skip the ‘chilling’ stage they would cook quicker but may not hold their shape as well.

Apologies for the lack of photos, but it was the first day back to work and I was just so hungry!

Ingredients

– 600g butternut squash

– 1 tin kidney beans

1 tsp chilli flakes

– 2 cloves of garlic

Several handfuls of crushed tortilla chips

– Vegetable oil

– Burger buns and toppings of your choice

1. Cut the butternut squash into equal chunks (don’t worry about removing the skin) and place in covered microwave proof bowl. Microwave on high for 10 minutes

2. Meanwhile blitz the kidney beans, chilli flakes and garlic cloves in a food processor until they form a smooth paste

3. After the butternut squash has cooked, remove it from the microwave and allow to cool slightly

4. Scoop the butternut squash flesh away from its skin, and add to the bean mixture

5. Mix in a handful of crushed tortilla chips – this will help it bind. Keep adding chips until you think the mixture will hold its shape

6. Using slightly wet hands (to avoid the mixture sticking) mould into twelve mini burger shapes

7. Place on a non-stick baking tray and leave to chill in the fridge for 10 mins

8. Pre-heat grill

9. Remove burgers from the fridge and place under the grill. Cook on each side for at least 5mins. Just make sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn

10. Once they are nice and crisp on both sides remove from the grill

11. Build your burgers and enjoy

Burgers,bacon,Mac an cheese- a match made in heaven?

So after an impromptu night of drinking on Friday there was no way I was in any mood to cook on Saturday, which gave me the perfect opportunity to visit one of my favourite haunts from law school -Spanky’s Van Dykes.

Spanky’s is a chilled out slightly alternative music venue, with a reputation for incredible burgers and fried chicken. Although I am hardly the best person to comment on the standards of music ( as my boyfriend would be quick to verify) I do love a good burger and the variety there is second to none. As well as a variety of suggested burgers (including a monster munch and emmental burger?!) they also have a whole host of toppings if you prefer to ‘make-your-own’. You can check out the complete menu here

Sadly they were out of monster munch on Saturday, and so I settled for designing my own perfect burger…after a long internal struggle over the traditional (blue cheese and bacon) vs the alternative or obscure (peanut butter and jam) I finally settled for the middle ground- 1/4 pounder topped with bacon and homemade mac n cheese. 

After a very reasonable wait time, my burger arrived…and I was not disappointed. Fat, creamy, melt in the mouth macaroni spilling out from a perfectly cooked, meaty burger,topped with hot crispy bacon….pure heaven!The only slight disappointment was the fries…these used to be skinny double cooked fries but appear to have been replaced with chunkier chips which reminded me of the type you get from a chip shop…nice but nothing special.

One thing I did love was the wide range of condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayo, 3 kinds of Tabasco, hot sauce (plus a few I can’t remember).

Overall this is a great venue with a wide variety of burgers to suit every taste. Add in a good range of beers( Sierra Nevada is usually available on draft) and you have a winning combination for a lazy Saturday afternoon.

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