Don Bauder 6:30 p.m., May 22
Initial Impressions at Anny's Fine Burger
I'd just finished a 12-hour workday during which I hadn't had a thing to eat. My stomach was growling, I was too tired to cook, and I was in Kearny Mesa. All the conditions were right to try a place I'd been hearing about the past two weeks — Anny's Fine Burger.
My friends in the area have been raving about the gargantuan burgers at this place (apparently, the second in a two-part chain with roots in Santee). One even brought me a grease-stained take-out menu. 30 different burgers of varying protein are on the list, each topped with their own unique amalgam of toppings. There's probably nothing you haven't seen here before. There are few things that haven't found their way atop a beef patty in this day and age of elevated comfort food. That said, the combinations of toppings and condiments are a bit more ambitious than most places.
On arrival, I spent a good five minutes just trying to decide which burger to go with. Honestly, so many of them sounded good and, again, I was starving. In the end, I went for the Sand Dune Burger with cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, teriyaki sauce and a mound of thinly sliced and fried onions, plus a side of Cajun fries.
It was delivered quickly and politely by a friendly guy at the front counter. My order was to-go and I appreciated that they wrapped my burger in paper, put it in its own paper bag, then placed that in a plastic bag with a Styrofoam box containing my fries. Turns out all the extra wrapping saved not only my fries, but my car's interior.
When I got home, I reached for my burger and found it had made a soggy mess of the paper bag and the paper holding it. Grease. It was everywhere. Now, animal fat is what brings the flavor in the burger world, but this was insane and the largest slick I'd ever seen a beef patty give off. Turns out, a lot of it had come from the bacon, but the main culprit was the fried onions. Instead of being crispy, they were a lump of oil-saturated mush. I know part of this is due to the car-ride home, but it was a short one and it was obvious part of the blame had to be shouldered by the individual manning the frier.
Despite all the oil and textural deficiencies, I have to say the burger did taste good. The larger grind on the meat reminded me of home-made patties from my childhood. Considering the references to "mom" at Anny's, this may be intentional. The smoky teriyaki sauce was extremely flavorful and worked with the bacon. Alas, this became the first burger in years that I haven't completely polished off. I simply couldn't with all that grease.
Good thing I called it a day half-way through. The next morning, even after numerous toothbrush scrubbings, I was unable to wipe away a persistent film of fat from the inside of my mouth.
On the plus side, the fries came out of the frier just as they should, and with a generous sprinkling of seasoning. All in all, the flavors are there and, judging by the happy expressions of the eight people who were at the restaurant when I stopped in, others are enjoying Anny's.
Given that and all the raving from multiple fans that inspired my visit, I'll likely go back. The frier can be a cruel kitchen tool and, since that was the source of the only problems I could spot, it would be wrong to write a place off for one bad dip.
If anybody's been to Anny's, leave a comment or be your own judge. Anny's Fine Burger is located at 5375 Kearny Villa Road.