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Big Maxie’s Bites: The Annex

In the Second Installment of His Search For Burger Perfection, Big Maxie Visits a Solon Haunt

Image source: Annexbar.com

Image source: Annexbar.com

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On its website, The Annex Bar & Grille proclaims itself “The Best Kept Secret in Solon.” I’d have to agree.

If you didn’t see the neon ‘Open’ sign on its door, you might mistake The Annex for a townhouse. Found on the corner of Pettibone and Liberty in south Solon, The Annex is a miniscule bar with about four extra tables for dine-in. When walking in for the first time, patrons may feel some skepticism due to the “bar first, restaurant second” appearance. The bartenders also serve as the waitresses, and there is a singular grill in the far corner where one cook works, exposed to all diners and drinkers.

After I demolished my first burger from The Annex in 2015, I immediately fell in love. Since then, I’ve always argued that The Annex has the best burger in Cleveland.

On September 13, my girlfriend took me back to The Annex for my third visit.

*Burger Tip #1: burgers always taste better when the experience is shared with those you enjoy spending time with.*

I’d been subject to this same wait my past two times, so I had been expecting a delay, but Big Maxie waiting for food after football practice is a scary sight.”

We walked in, and the scene was exactly as I had remembered it from a year ago, when I last visited. The bar was about half-full, but full of conversation. Baseball was playing on most of their three or four televisions, and the pool table was empty. If you’d taken a photo all three times I’d been to The Annex, you could have convinced me that they were all taken on the same day.

We sat down at our table, menus in hand, and began to decide on our orders. The menu offered  nine specialty burgers. Standouts included the “Western Burger”, which is loaded with bacon, the customer’s choice of cheese, barbecue sauce and an onion ring, as well as the “Golfer Burger”, made up of coleslaw, fries, tomato, onion and mozzarella cheese. However, I ultimately went with the burger that I had so heavily enjoyed during my prior visit, the “Rick Burger.”

The “Rick” is an absolute mountain of a sandwich that comes with a hefty slice of grilled salami, complemented with a piece of mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, topped off with The Annex’s secret sauce.

Naturally, I paired the burger with an order of onion chips (it’s not a meal without a side, right?).

*Burger Tip #2: get the best side dish on the menu. Your burger will taste better, you will be more satisfied and your taste buds will thank you.*

We patiently waited for our food and turned our attention to one of the televisions in our corner of the restaurant. An episode of American Ninja Warrior was on, and diverted our attention for twenty-five minutes of our wait.

Unfortunately, we were still waiting after the episode. I’d been subject to this same wait my past two times, so I had been expecting a delay, but Big Maxie waiting for food after football practice is a scary sight.

The “Rick” is an absolute mountain of a sandwich that comes with a hefty slice of grilled salami, complemented with a piece of mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, topped off with The Annex’s secret sauce. ”

After an additional twenty minutes of waiting (bringing us to a whopping forty minutes total), our food was finally presented to us.

With one look at the food, I knew that the wait was well worth it.

The heavenly scent of the perfectly cooked medium-rare patty rushed back to my brain once again. The burger was monstrous, but not overwhelming. The massive bun provided a balance to the aesthetic of the burger and kept the salami sealed on the patty. A mountain of onion chips accumulated around and underneath.

Our server set down the burger, and I dug in right away.

Good lord.

The juiciness of the burger almost gave me goosebumps. Mix it with the thinly-sliced salami and the melted slice of mozzarella cheese and you might (check that, you DO) have the best sandwich that I have ever tasted. The secret sauce provided the burger with a creaminess similar to what you’d get with mayonnaise, but a kick that resembled McDonald’s’ Big Mac sauce.

And don’t even get me started on the onion chips. The precisely-cut onion bits provided a familiar texture to each chip, but the miniscule size provided an enhanced experience of eating fried onions. The deep-fried batter didn’t overwhelm the onion as much, and it worked to provide a fantastic culinary adventure. Granted, I do like food more than most others, but, trust me, the onion chips were unforgettable.

We finished our meal in silence.

*Burger Tip #3: the quieter the meal, the better the burger.*

We didn’t wait nearly as long for our bill as we waited for our food. With our bloated stomachs, I firmly expected the bill to be, at minimum, thirty-five dollars. To my pleasant surprise, it was under twenty. My girlfriend decided to pick up the bill.

*Burger Tip #4: a free burger is automatically better than an exceptional burger, but a free, exceptional burger is once in a lifetime.*

As we walked to the door, I couldn’t help but think my quest to find the best burger in Cleveland was over.

But in a thriving burger scene like Cleveland, you might be surprised.

I guess we’ll find out.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Big Maxie’s Bites: The Annex”

  1. Julie on October 20th, 2017 9:36 am

    Big Maxie- mf and I are going to start going to the places you suggest. Diner drive s and dives – look out. Big Maxie in town.

    [Reply]

  2. Cheryl Fuller on October 23rd, 2017 6:50 am

    Great article. Well written, interesting, makes me hungry!,

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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Big Maxie’s Bites: The Annex