Thursday, April 02, 2009

fringe festival 1: Dic Ann's

Fringe festival: a continuing series covering deliciousness on the edge of town.

Dic Ann's double w/ cheese fig. a: Dic Ann's double w/ cheese, fries, and a simple machine

I'd actually been to Dic Ann's numerous times. Once to their Vaudreuil-Dorion location, where Michelle and I successfully had a meal, and at least three times to the flagship location in Montreal North, where I kept getting shut out because I kept going on their off days (they're closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). So, as of a couple of weeks ago, I still had never actually completed my pilgrimage to Dic Ann's. (Michelle, on the other hand, did eventually make it, but that's another story, and one that, unfortunately, I wasn't a part of).

Anyway, when we found ourselves part of an excursion to deepest darkest Anjou in search of canning supplies, we decided to see if we couldn't talk our host into a little late-afternoon detour to Dic Ann's on the way back, to reward us for our efforts. We felt confident we'd get our way, too. Our host was something of a patsy when it comes to Dic Ann's, someone for whom the words "Dic" and "Ann's" hold powerful associations. We knew all we had to do was to utter those magic words and things would fall into place.

And fall into place they did. The next thing I knew, there I was, seated at the counter, ordering up my very first real Dic Ann's in a location that hasn't changed a whole heck of a lot in over fifty years of operation.

Now, if you're one of those for whom the words "Dic" and "Ann's" don't hold powerful associations, consider the following a primer. Dominick "Dick" Potenza hailed originally from West Virginia, was raised in Upstate New York (Utica), and became something of a mover and a shaker in the supper club scene of the Rochester-Buffalo corridor. It was there, as part of that scene, that he met Ann "Ann" Collechia, a jazz accordionist (!) who was performing under the stage name Ann "Ann" Russell. They got hitched, and, it being the early 1950s, they began fantasizing about opening their own fast food operation (you know how these things go), one that would showcase an original recipe they'd cooked up: a hot-sauce-smothered hamburger. They moved to Montreal, and in 1954 they opened their original hamburger joint at the corner of Papineau and Crémazie. Two years later, due to overwhelming popular demand, they picked up and moved to their Montreal North location. And the rest is hamburger history.

As you can probably tell from the picture above, the Dic Ann's burger is a thin burger. Unabashedly so. It was designed that way so that they could be produced at high volume.* The kicker is the famous hot sauce, which is essentially a spicy meat sauce. A patty is placed in the bottom half of the bun (a bun that's unusually flat, it must be noted), that trademark sauce gets drizzled all over the burger (meat on meat!), cheese gets added (or not), and then they slap the second half of the bun on top (as one might expect)--that's it, that's all. No ketchup, no pickles, no tomatoes--none of that jazz. The Dic Ann's experience is an elemental one. It's also an essential one.

Oh, yeah: and the popsicle stick/tongue depressor in the picture? It's to use as a lever, so you can work the burger up and out of the plate.

Dic Ann's fig. b: Dic Ann's on Pie-IX

Dic Ann's, 10910 Pie-IX Blvd., Montreal North
[they began franchising in the 1990s, and now have ten locations, including one in NDG and one in Longueuil, but in our books it's the Montreal North location or nothing]


* The system works. Dic Ann's production lines have set several world records in this department, including most burgers served in one hour (1,542), and largest "off the street" order for a single client (502 burgers, prepared in just over 24 minutes).


cwi said...

really? a patsy? really!

Sean said...

how did it taste?

Anonymous said...

Great commentary, very accurate and well written...I am the son of Dic, the founder, and I really appreciate your commentary...a lot of time was taken to write it, and on behalf of Mr. Dic and all the franchisees, I thank you for your input!! All the best, "the fastest hamburger guy in the world", Dominic ...kinik, please contact me at - i would like to personally thank you for you commentary!!! All the best!!!

aj kinik said...

dearest CWI,
let me rephrase: the nicest, kindest, most wonderful patsy we know

dear Sean,
old-school delicious

dear Dominic "the fastest hamburger guy in the world" Potenza,
wow! thanks for writing! glad you liked our write-up. Thank you to you and the Dic Ann's family for keeping the magic alive.

Anonymous said...

We have been Dic Ann's fans for more than 20 years. We have invited family to Montreal just to have them visit Dic Ann's. We always refer to them as 'les petits hamburgers plats' and we love them.
P.S. we are loyal and long term fans of AEB. Rock On!