Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Five Guys burgers

So, after months upon months of waiting, we finally have a Five Guys near by. They've been promising it for ages as part of the new Quartier Dix 30 complex where B works. The other day on our way to do something totally unrelated, we saw it was open, so stopped in for lunch.

Now, I'll start by saying... I've never been to one of these places before. So why the anticipation? Well, the only thing I've heard about it is that it's supposedly as-good-as-or-better than In N Out. Since moving here from California, there are two things I have sorely missed... one, good burritos and two, In N Out. Well, that and friends and relatives and such. ;) When I took B with me a few years ago for a friend's wedding, I almost cried upon discovering that there was one next to the hotel and promptly dragged him in. He still talks about it. The burger, that is, not my weird priorities.

So, how was Five Guys?

Well, I was hopeful at seeing the ultra-simple menu... burgers, fries and drinks. Ultra-simple, that is, until you get to the toppings. Good grief. The place was busy but the line moved fast... a little too fast. Still trying to figure out what I wanted on the damn thing, the girl at the register was rabidly asking us for our order. I went for a basic cheeseburger and B got the bacon variety, both all-dressed, we split a large fry and both got sodas. She rang it up and I almost choked... just shy of $30. What the...?!? B found a table while I waited for the order at the counter, secretly hoping the burgers came wrapped in gold foil or with lottery tickets as napkins. Jeeze... these poor burgers had a heck of a lot to live up to at this point.

They had a similar set up as In N Out with the assembly line kitchen, manned by adolescence's best and brightest. As I watched, I noticed a number of orders being assembled with double patties... weird, as I hadn't noticed a double burger on the menu. They also offer roasted peanuts (in the shell) in a help-yourself bin next to the condiments. Cute gimmick, my dad would have loved it, but a worry for those with allergies. They also cook their fries in peanut oil, so for those with peanut allergies, steer very clear of this place (there's epi-pen on that topping list somewhere, surely?). After a few minutes I was handed my order (in a brown paper bag even though we were staying there? Seems wasteful) and we sat down to see what all the hype was about.

There were no lottery tickets or gold foil wrappers, but there was a metric ton of food. When they say large fries, trust me, they mean it. We weren't able to finish the portion we got, and considering B's hollow leg and my hate of wasting food, that's saying something. The burgers came wrapped in multiple layers of foil (again, kind of wasteful) and they were gigantic. I suddenly realized why I was seeing so many double patties coming off the line... they were all double burgers! B pointed out that to the side there were listed "petite burgers" which we're guessing are single patty versions. Damnit... why don't they explain that! If not on the menu directly, then at the cash? The double patties made the thing so big, I had difficulty biting into it. I could have asked before ordering, but honestly it would not have occurred to me, and I hate being one of "those" people who hold up the line by asking a zillion questions. And the toppings? Well, they tasted nice in the first bite or two, but after that most of it got squeezed out onto the foil as I tried to fit the thing in my mouth. They include a wodge of napkins in the bag and with good reason... it looked like our burgers had self-destructed by the end of the meal.

At the heart of it, though, it was a good burger. Juicy and tasty (and messy). The fries were probably the star of the meal, though. Fresh cut and cooked with the skin still on... hot but not burning and well salted and they offer bottles of malt vinegar if you want to go that route. I can foresee that place being very popular come this summer, it's a shame they don't have milkshakes on the menu or an outdoor terrace. The ambiance was typical 50's-style burger joint and B approved of the music. He even pointed out that it would make a good spot for a vintage car meet in the summer months... that could be a good marketing angle.

Overall, I would go again though I will *not* order a double patty or a large fry ever again. Way too much food for one (or two) people. Also way more than I want to spend on a burger and fries, though ordering the smaller burgers and sharing a regular fry will land you more around $20 for two people, which is far more reasonable. The big negative for me is the wastefulness... how difficult is it to have a recycling option for customers? Paper bags and cups, aluminum foil... all of it is recyclable! Seems a rather poor business decision in this day and age.  

For my burger dollar, I'd still sooner go the Le Gourmet Burger (I'll do a review of them at a later date). That is, until I can convince In N Out to open here in Quebec ;)

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