My 15 year old son has acquired a taste for death metal.  Nothing wrong with that; I was into The Fall and Joy Division at his age.

On Tuesday we took Matt and his mate to Nottingham to see Architects, a metalcore (?) band actually younger than me. Pleasingly, also an opportunity to tick off the last new central Nottingham pub in the GBG.  Actually, along with the Kean’s Head, it’s arguably the only central Nottingham pub (within the ring road) in the Beer Guide, which is something.

He should probably have been studying for something, but there’s no education like exposure to a big city on a school night. Matt went to Camden the other week, but Nottingham feels like a really big city to a 15 year-old, even on a cold Tuesday in November. Bruce Dickinson was born here you know.


Central Nottingham is a real place, with guitar shops, pavement vomit and bubble tea. The boys were amazed (and relieved) that our GBG tick was a burger place though.

It says a lot about the way real ale has crept into the dining mainstream that the sole new GBG entry is Annie’s Burger Shack, in the gorgeous Lace Market.  As Matt noted, it’s not much of a shack.


More like a posh Pizza Hut, except with burgers.  And ten interesting real ales. Choosing one of those ten when you’ve been directed from the entrance to a table is even harder than when you’re standing at the bar, so it’s lucky I could see Charnwood’s Vixen through the clutter.

The burgers and chilli were named after Notts legends. The TinderStickInsect Burger and Ed Dough Balls were great, almost BrewDog standard, while the Vixen was Beer Guide standard too. I’m not sure how it was that good, as although it was packed with students, it wasn’t selling much real ale. There’s a theme emerging here.

The staff were wearing Punk IPA t-shirts, and if there’s a craft beer revolution it’s being led by one beer. The 21st century millennial wowsers were all on the Coke though.  A soundtrack from the La’s and Jackson 5 was suitably unchallenging.

The GBG tells me non-diners can enjoy a drink at the bar.  Good luck with that Simon. I’d love to know what Alan Winfield makes of it.

Nottingham looked great, and full of an energy you just don’t get in Cambridge or Oxford. The famed Rock City had a different sort of energy too, with a much younger crowd than the denim-jacketed bunch we saw at Camden for modern vikings Amon Amarth.

It’s a rite of passage to go your first gig on your own, but (almost uniquely) I would have been a standout oldie at the Architects gig*. So I went for a walk and admired the tiling.


Ten minutes later, I had a text message.  “Can’t get a drink.  Only beer“. It took some explaining that a 15 year old was allowed to ask for a bottle of water. They really ought to teach this stuff in school.

Amazingly, their hearing seemed unimpaired by the whole experience, though their revulsion at the state of the Rock City toilets showed they have some life left to live.

*My first gig was Cliff Richard, by the way. Did me no permanent harm.


  1. You do have to wonder whether a burger restaurant will generate enough turnover to keep 10 real ales in decent nick.

    Nottingham’s boundaries are very tightly drawn, leaving a lot of suburbs outside the city, and thus it feels much “bigger” than its population (which isn’t that much more than Stockport MBC) would suggest.


    1. Good point; Nottingham always feels like a big city due to cast/tram/Market Square, though you can walk from station to the theatres in ten minutes. The decline of the Bell leaves the centre without a real ale flagship.


  2. I have done Annies Burger Shack and i found that the right side was for drinkers and the left for diners who scoff burgers,the last burger i ate was well over 30 years ago.
    Rock City was great it opened in the early 80s and the bands did not come on until after closing time,a late drink and seeing live music that we liked,i wonder if the Mofoes are still running the doors and sort any trouble out like they did back in the 80s.

    The Lion still looks like it did when i took my wife to be in on most Saturdays,one of the few Home Ales tied houses that we went in often.
    I regard Nottingham as a big city though its population says different,the same goes for Newcastle which i think is a larger city than Nottingham but with a lower population than Derby which they will bleat on about.


    1. Take a look at Nottingham’s and Newcastle’s conurbation and their population which the cities serve and you will see how big they really are,other cities have extended their boundarys over the years which make them look bigger than other cities which are much bigger than them.


    2. I didn’t see anyone drinking in Annies, to be honest it was virtually full of people eating. Good to see a busy place.

      Rock City still has proper door men, there was a noticeable edge that London didn’t have.

      Nott’m feels like a big city to me.


      1. Thanks for your comments on Nottingham and i am pleased that you feel it is like a big city which it is,i love the city as you know as i was born in it.
        You knew that you had to behave yourself when in Rock City if not you would get a good beating from the Mofoes who were the local biker gang at the time.
        Also pleased that you said door men,my daughters partner was a door man in Nottingham but packed it in when they had their first kid who was four today,some still call them bouncers which they do not like to be called now.
        It was great to see him open his presents today.


  3. I have been to Annie’s once and it was packed midweek, the waiting time to eat was over an hour. The footfall is enormous and must help sustain the beer throughput, although 10 beers plus the bewildering choice (and definitions) of burgers makes ordering a challenge.
    The eponymous Annie is opening another branch; from memory I think Alan will be delighted to hear that it’s in his beloved Derby.


    1. Thanks Malcolm; no doubt the burgers in the Derby branch will commemorate famous Derby folk like Brian Clough 😉

      There was a sign saying 40 minute wait last Tuesday; they beat that to be fair.


  4. Its heart-warming to see some of you old lads accidentally stumbling into a decent pub once in a whole.
    The general confusion over how a burger joint could support 10 cask ales is so cute, as is the hilarious complaints about being bewildered by “too much choice”.

    Eee, wun’t it better when the tv only had 3 channels, the only beer was bitter, and the food choice were tek it or leave it.


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