Burger & Fries
Okay, before we begin; huge disclaimer- Five Guys Burger And Fries have been rated as the company that produces the best burger and had I been asked to vote, I would have made that vote too. So not only is this review going to be glowing, it's also backed up by hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands of reviews before and I will not say anything new, it might just be slightly different.Do you remember that episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares where he gets into an argument with a chef because of the term 'fresh frozen?' Yeah, that nonsense isn't happening here because Five Guys’ ingredients are fresher than DJ Khaled in a music video. (Plus there isn’t a freezer anywhere in this establishment.)
Five Guys’ ingredients are so fresh, that they tell you which farm the potatoes are from- and if you're a Five Guy fiend like I am, if you go in three days in a row, you'll see that location change, even if it changes back to a farm you saw two days before.
But the freshness is a fact that absolutely everyone who's ever reviewed Five Guys knows about, so that information isn't new. In fact, it's so old, you can even ask old employees and they'll tell you the same thing. (trust me, I tried to get more than one ex-employee to talk and nobody wants to deviate from the story.)
Another well-known tale is that Five Guys are the true prophets of the ‘have it your way’ lifestyle through the championing of ‘free’ toppings.Now this isn’t your average ‘free’ and ‘premium’ topping shindig like other places. No. Five Guys offer 15 toppings, all of which are free.
Better yet, even if you ask for onions AND grilled onions, the cashier won’t look at you funny and will respectfully carry out your order.
The flip side is, is that ordering takes a little longer than your typical ‘can I get uhhhhh…’ moment, as you have to tell the cashier exactly how you want your burger, or risk it certainly coming out looking kinda sad and a bit like those plain and dull microwave imitations.
But if you are hesitant to give the free toppings a try, the plain burger is not a creation to turn your nose up at, as even Anthony Bourdain believes that the perfect burger needs nothing more than bread, patty and cheese, ‘the way God intended...’And other meat connoisseurs such as The Eater’s Nick Solares believes that you should order the burger the way the chef intended, with no additives or changes to test its quality- so if you don’t want anything on it, know that you are going to be eating a high-quality piece of food that is worthy of your respect.
Of course, quality comes at a price; and when you’re used to getting your entire burger meal for less than £5, seeing the most pricy burger being priced at £8 is a shock, particularly when you know it comes wrapped in foil and not on a plate.
Hot Dogs can be as costly as £5.50. But that’s without the fries; of which you can look to spend up to £5.00. You’ll both most likely be thirsty at this point, so fork out another £4.75 for a shake and £2.50 for a regular drink from the now famous Coco Cola ‘Freestyle Machine’.
Now I'll admit that can see where the 'it's too expensive' cries comes from. But let's be real here, if you ordered a burger and a side of cajun fries so large you didn't finish it alone, would you see it at expensive, or of value?So if your main complaint about Five Guys is that £11.75 worth of food shouldn't be shipped from the kitchen to your belly in some foil and a brown paper bag because it suddenly devalues the meal, I really do hope for your sake that you never visit a place of El Bulli's level where you have to eat scallops off a moss patch.
But anyway, my point is this; if you ordered all of those things, not only would you be too full to walk, you’d both have so much left over that it would all look like a bargain; so more realistic order looks something like a little burger and regular fries, or a burger and small fries. Going large implies you’re looking to share- in which case you can ask for the canjun to be on the side if you’re a little hesitant. The milkshakes are great but they too are filling with their free selection of ‘mix-ins’, so just buy a regular drink and have some fun at the Coca-Cola freestyle machine or order a beer.
With such an array of customisation, the types of people you may stumble into on a trip at Five Guys varies too.
It means that unlike other American diners, which make character through their décor and elaborate furnishings hanging behind a neon sign, Five Guys’ atmosphere is built on the people which occupy it, sitting at what might be a very simple wooden table, or a simply organised booth which might hold six people.The simplicity here means that Five Guys can very easily become an excellent, tried and true alternative to your date night plans, stealing the limelight if you walk towards that restaurant without a reservation, or if you both just want to get out of the house.
It’s not a show stopper, like a GBK or Ed’s Diner attempts to be, but it’s also not a second rate chore that you might think of when the words ‘McDonald’s’ or ‘Burger King’ is ushered.
So is there anything I don't like about Five Guys?
Well yeah, there is one thing. I have a nut allergy. It's kind of severe and there's a huge tray of Monkey Nuts just chilling near the waiting spots or in the queue. Now I'm told that these are complimentary, but since I am physically unable to test that, i can't be too sure to tell you. But really, that's irrelevant. What is relevant is that if you're like me and you're quaking in your boots about how you might react standing near the nuts; don't worry too much. That distinct 'nutty' smell you might get when you're near those things of death isn't a smell I could smell in the restaurant.Plus, these harbingers of terror and destruction are still shelled- so if you react to nuts like I do, which is pretty easily; you SHOULD. SHOULD be okay. I didn't even need to reach for antihistamines, let alone an Epipen, so shout-out to Five Guys for not killing my fellow nut allergy sufferers and I.
In fact, I'm now so okay with this these nuts hanging around that I don't even feel anxious during my visits, even when someone is eating a whole bunch in the table next to me.
Another word of warning however is that the fries are fried in Peanut oil. Whilst this is safer and healthier for you than other plant based oils, if you have a severe nut allergy it can be a cause for anxiety.
But like I said, I have an allergy and not only did I order fries on my first visit; I’ve even increase the amount of fries I eat on each subsequent visit- so again, be not afraid- but be prepared if things take a turn for the worst.Conclusion
What Five Guys does is provide an excellent blend of what you need for a lowkey date; great quality products in a simple environment that gives the two of you space to get to know one another.
And if it’s a first date? Well, they might as well leave their number for you on one of the pieces of cards left for you, written in Crayola.
- Widely regarded as the best burgers on offer in the UK.
- Ingredients have been sourced fresh and with pride.
- An absolutely amazing array of customisation and personalisation options.
- Superb quality ingredients that makes an amazing final product.
- (Hopefully) No allergic reactions for mild and moderate allergy suffers (I hope, but please be careful)
- Not just for the burger lovers. Sandwiches and hotdog lovers get some love back too.
- The personal touch of previous diners riddles each and every restaurant with that corkboard full of crayola doodles.
- Has that classic 'American Diner' feel to it with the high backed chairs and booths.
- I cannot stress to you how clean the workers keep these places.
- Excellent and non combative customer service.
- We don't really get brown papers bags in the UK, so in a way it adds to the element of your overall 'experience'
- The frequency of Nuts and Peanuts is a source of anxiety and danger for those with a severe allergy.
- The peanut oil too.
- Can be a shock to the wallet if you came in expecting McDonald's prices.
- Presentation skills leave a little to be desired.
- Odds are neither of you know what tunes are being played on the speakers.
- Ambiance leaves a little to be desired as the decor is very minimalist and very red and white.
- Beautifully messy food. Try and avoid your best garms when paying this joint a visit.
- Getting a table at peak hours might be tight, so be prepared to take your brown bag elsewhere.
- 'a lack of formal cutlery'