Friday, June 5, 2009

Fun Playing with Burgers: Brewsters and The Annex

Bob and I are recently returned from our first drive to NY in 14 years. We had a marvelous trip and played with some yummy food.

We began our journey at Brewsters Cafe in Twinsburg. We had never been here - heck, we didn't even know it was here. I was actually looking for a different place that I thought was in this location. Still - Brewsters looked inviting, and we were suddenly both craving burgers, so it seemed like the ideal stop. Disclaimer here: this was our first and only visit to Brewsters - so you must take my negative comments below with appropriate doses of salt.

Brewsters's website and menus proclaim its mission: to have FUN. Given my attitude about playing with food, it seemed like just the place for us. We walked in and, after standing around for a few moments, and finally inquiring in the bar, were told to sit anywhere. We picked a table and purused the menu. Though it was dead on lunch hour, only a few tables were occupied. Still, the bar looked nice, and the beer selection - which included several varieties of Great Lakes Brewing Company beers on tap - was fantastic.

I almost hesitated at ordering the burger after reading the menu description, which claimed that the meat was brushed with a "secret" Au Jus containing espresso (I despise coffee). Still, I decided to go for it.

The plates we were served looked lovely.

But the burgers themselves were very disappointing. We'd asked for them medium, but they were well done - and there was no moisture coming out of it at all. There was no taste of espresso, au jus, or anything else - it didn't really even taste "meaty." But the meat wasn't dry. It just had a very weird texture. And it tasted and felt as though it had been microwaved.

We asked the server how the burgers were prepared (and they had come up awfully quickly after we ordered them). She told us that at lunch, they are cooked on a panini press and at dinner, they are sometimes done outside on a grill. Oh.

And this is such a shame, because the menu is written in the language of fun, ("Drunk as a Skunk Beef Tips", "Pork Shaw Shanks Redemption", "Whole Leaf Caesar Eric Wedge") and the place has a nice vibe. But the service wasn't great (it took forever to get our check and get cashed out); and we spent the entire trip craving a great burger. Fortunately, we did slake that craving after we returned. And we will certainly give Brewsters another chance, because the menu and the place seemed like they should be fun, and they are locally owned and operated.

Fast forwarding to June 1 - we returned home from Long Island, with most of my parents' old freezer in my car (the door didn't fit; we'll fetch that later this summer). Still craving a fabulous burger, we decided to walk the half mile to The Annex Bar & Grille, at the corner of Pettibone Road and Liberty Road. We have lived a half mile away from the The Annex for almost 13 years, but had never been there. As the linked article indicates, and as was apparant from looking at the place, until the no smoking law was enacted, The Annex had a lot of smoke. So, we'd never gone. But someone recently posted on the Food & Wine Forum that The Annex makes one of the best burgers in town.

We walked in and sat at the bar. The inside was a little warmer than I expected - but as I expected, it was a real locals kind of bar - simple, warm and welcoming.

I was so happy to see that they supported the Walk for Multiple Sclerosis last month!

They have a great selection of alcohol for a neighborhood place (but don't expect much by way of wine). The beer selection is good (Great Lakes Dortmunder and Sam Adams on tap, and Dos Equis Dark in bottle, among others).

Though my Jagermiester days are over - they've got it cold if that's your thing.

They have warm nuts, nuts in the shell, and assorted chips and bar snacks available.

This is a view of the kitchen, such as it is. A refrigerator, professional stove and fryer are about it. Oh - and a french-fry cutter on the wall, which I didn't get a good photo of.

So, we got all comfy and sipped our drinks - and learned that they don't serve burgers on Monday or Wednesday - they serve wings. Since we were very hungry - we said ok to the wings, and also ordered a side of fresh-cut fries and a side of onion rings.

My Wings with Garlic

They were not kidding about that garlic - lots and lots of it - and it was darn tasty!

Bob's Wings with Hot Sauce

The commercial hot sauce was ok. The amazing thing was that these wings (and the onion rings) all came out of food service bags - but they were really very, very good. Cooking counts.

The fries are cut and fried to order. They are delicious and fresh - not very crispy, but nevertheless delicious.

I really enjoyed these onion rings, even though they started life frozen.

While we were enjoying our nosh - Annex owners Rick and Patricia Ledinsky came in and announced that their City Council battle to enlarge the parking lot was concluded in their favor. We chatted briefly and Rick was kind enough to buy us a drink. We promised that we'd be back for burgers ASAP - and we weren't kidding.

The next night - Tuesday June 2 - we returned to The Annex to satisfy that burger itch.

Can you say "scratch"?

Bingo, as he is affectionately known, serves up burgers in two sizes - 2/3 pound and 1/3 pound. We opted for the smaller size, which breaks the bank at $3.75.

Ahhh - I feel so much better now! Bob had cheese on his, but being a purist, I wanted to try my first one without.

We also shared a basket of those tasty fresh cut fries. I don't know if The Annex has the best burger in town - but the ones we tasted were mighty fine - hand shaped, cooked on the grill from scratch, moist and delicious.

The Annex serves up tasty food and drinks at prices the Miller High Life Delivery Man would approve of. We anticipate more fun playing with the food and drink at the Annex in our future!

Annex Bar and Grille on Urbanspoon


  1. I see they serve the same "fresh cut fries" they serve down here in Akron and Canton. For whatever reason, limp and oily fries appeal to a large segment of the population.

  2. Which fries were you referring to? The fresh cut fries at The Annex suffer from a lack of technique - they are cut and immediately fried once to order, instead of being fried twice. Therefore, though they are fresh and tasty, they are also quite limp.