15 February 2010

Five Guys: Could it live up to the hype?

Since I've been on a pretty epic burger kick as of late, everyone and their mother was astounded to hear that I had never been to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. They made such lofty claims as it was the best burger they'd ever had in their life. I was pretty skeptical of that statement but I went in with an open mind.

Was I about to experience the best burger of my life? From a chain no less? Keep reading to find out!

I had already spoke to a few Five Guys regulars as to what to order. Small burger, small fries, small drink. I was thoroughly warned steer clear of the large fries as it was enough fries to feed a family of four. These warnings were quite accurate as even the small formed a colossal mountain when dumped onto my eating space.

They really should have some sort of warning on the display menu as I'm sure tons and tons of fries are wasted because of their ludicrous portion sizes. I'm not down with wasting food. Nonetheless, I was determined to conquer my (small?) mountain with some help from Heinz malt vinegar.

But hey let's not get ahead of ourselves! My order: A small bacon cheeseburger with ketchup, pickles, grilled onions, and jalapenos along with the aforementioned small fries and small drink.

Let's break this down item by item, shall we? First the burger.

The first thing I noticed after unwrapping this beast was that the jalapenos were freshly sliced, not pickled. That was surprising. Secondly, as you can see in the following autopsy shot the onions were seriously caramelized. Not sure how I felt about that. The third thing I noticed was the glorious amount of pickles. For me, you can never have enough pickles so that was definitely a plus.

Take into account how the toppings are layered: bottom bun, grilled onions, ketchup, bacon, jalapenos, patty, cheese, pickles, top bun. This resulted in my first problem with the burger. If it weren't for the balancing heat of the fresh jalapenos, the combination of the sweetness from the ketchup and the caramelized onions nearly overpowered the entire sandwich. These onions were seriously caramelized. Next time I will order raw onions. Luckily that fresh zing from the jalapeno managed to balance out the sweetness.

My other complaint was with the patty itself. The meat had a rubbery synthetic aftertaste when eaten on it's own. This taste was less apparent when consuming the sandwich as a whole but as I do with all of my burger reviews I eat half of the burger at once to get an overall flavor profile then I dissect the other half so I can eat each of the components individually. The bacon was nice and salty, the cheese and bun were adequate. Bonus points were awarded for their use of the sesame seed bun. If I could find a decent sesame seed bun at the store I would use them when I make burgers at home. Martin's potato rolls more than suffice however. Check out the big honkin' slabs of jalapeno on this thing (apologies for the blurriness):

Now let's get to the fries, which I was told were comparable to Boardwalk/Thrasher's fries, which happen to be my favorite.

I can sum up my experience of Five Guys' fries in one word: overcooked. Fries this long and cut this thick should have some bend to them and these were as stiff as a three day old corpse. I even took a picture to demonstrate my point:

It was hard for me to judge them past the fact that they were overcooked because that ruins any appeal they may have had. The fries were simply a failure. Did I eat them all anyway you wonder? But of course! As I said before I'm not down with wasting food, I clean my plate like a good boy:

The kids behind the counter didn't exactly look overly concerned about the quality of the food they put out, I think they were more concerned with who was going to buy them cigarettes or what time they were logging onto Call of Duty after work. Maybe the fries will be cooked correctly the next visit, whenever that may be.

Overcooked fries aside, I did like my meal at Five Guys but with a price tag over $10 it'll be hard to justify coming here over my one true fast-casual food love: Chipotle. In terms of sheer quantity of food for your dollar I would rate them almost equal, although the heavenly foil-wrapped fetal wraps at Chipotle leave me feeling a tad more full. I was able to go to the gym a little over an hour after my meal at Five Guys, whereas after dining at Chipotle you can write me off as being one step above useless for the remainder of the day.

So there you have it, my review of Five Guys Burgers and Overcooked Fries. As always thanks for reading and keep checking back, the next post I have lined up is about my first dim sum experience. What's dim sum you ask? You'll just have to keep checking back to find out.

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theminx said...

If you ever find yourself with a hankering for a burger in the Towson area, I recommend Stoney River Steaks in the Towson mall. I had an excellent burger there the other night - beefy, juicy, with onions and Gruyere. No other condiments. If not for the Kaiser roll (never my favorite form of carbohydrate), I'd say it was a perfect burger. With a side of truffle-oil drizzled parmesan fries, it was about $12.

Kyle said...

I wish I had read this yesterday! I was at Towson Towns getting a new iphone (long story...) and I was starving... Ah, well I'll have to check it out some other time.

scotpond said...

Have eaten many times at 5 Guys from DC to NY locations. Never had the experience of stiff, overcooked fries. I thought you were going to say you didn't like them as limp as they are! These kids need to be reported for overcooking fries. Send feedback to 5Guys.

scotpond said...

Price works out better when ordering for family of 4 because one large order of fries satisfies the group. Your rubbery synthetic evaluation of the meat may be based on no knowing what fresh hamburger tastes like compared to meat that has been frozen.

Mr. Micro said...

Me not knowing what fresh hamburger tastes like? LOL. What can I say, you got me. I only use the frozen pre-formed patties from the frozen foods section of Giant. Guilty as charged...

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