Annie’s Burger Shack – Burger Competition 2017 – Nottingham
People often express their jealousy at the fact I have a food blog with some renown in the Nottingham restaurant scene. They immediately ask how much free stuff I get or whether I have the status to get a table more easily… In reality I get numerous offers but extremely rarely accept them. For me, impartiality is the key in this game. However an opportunity sometimes comes along that allows me to play the role that many have in their heads. As one of the judges for Annie’s 2017 burger competition I arrived to a noisy crowd and to 3 burger creators, already whittled down from hundreds of entries. I was joined in critiquing duties by Lynnette from the Nottingham Post and Richard from Notts TV.
The creations were diverse:
- The Moroccan Burger – beef burger topped with falafel, Moroccan lamb, slow cooked apricots and mint yoghurt.
- The Buffalo Ranch Burger – chicken burger with a crispy coating with buffalo and ranch dressing and pickled red onion.
- The Saag Aloo Burger – beef topped with a disc of saag aloo poppadum basket of tikka masala with mango chutney.
It must be said that all three were rather good, probably better than I anticipated, and it was a difficult decision. My second runner up (I think that’s what they say these days to be nicer) was the Indian influenced burger. As people who read my reviews will know I tend to favour simplicity and whilst it looked great there was a little too much going on for me. If it gets to a point where you risk forgetting that you are eating a burger and the toppings dominate, it isn’t going to be the one for me.
The Moroccan was my first runner up and was a strong contender for champion. Richard from Notts TV picked this as his favourite feeling that it was the most interesting of the three and with a good balance of flavours. Similar to the Indian burger it had lots of components, though the North African flavours worked better with the beef.
The triumphant burger, both in my opinion and as actual victor, in all its chicken splendidness was the humble Buffalo Ranch burger. It was the sauce what won it! The chicken itself was good, plenty of crunch from the breadcrumb but it was dressed in the sharp, sweet, tangy buffalo and ranch sauce with a hint of spice. The only further embellishment was the little onion rings that adorned it. Even the attention to detail in those was great, Annie explained with great enthusiasm that she had lightly pickled them to take the edge off the harsh raw onions.
My biggest takeaway from the competition was seeing first hand the thought and effort that finalists had put into their creations. Something that people, including me, likely don’t think about. Yes there are ridiculous creations with toppings piled high but there is a rationale for each of those and a skill in creating them all. For the Moroccan lamb they perfected the recipe and cooked it only in tagines, something they will do when the burger goes on the menu briefly. The purpose of the evening to add the winning burger to the menu for the next year but alongside that the runners up will have 1 month of their burger being the signature creation too. It was great being part of the process and the energy of the shack and Annie herself is infectious.