Everyone’s heard of it by now and the hype surrounding it has been enough to rival a royal wedding. But yes, I jumped on the burger bandwagon to review Five Guys. I had to know what made this American fast food chain so special it made people flock to London’s Covent Garden. And I had to see whether their burgers really do deserve such high accolades from the press (over the other side of the pond at least).
I will mention the much hyped up talk of rivalry with Shake Shack, another burger chain which opened just minutes down the road in the Covent Garden Piazza. But I haven’t been yet so I will simply review this nationwide franchise with my most objective head I can and keep my lips tightly sealed (mostly) on all things Shake Shack.
Mr OhSo was delighted to hear we were going low key and heading for a burger dinner. ‘Boom’ I think was the expression when he heard we were headed for burgers, fries and American beer. Grr.
As expected, the queues were still sprawling out the door when we arrived early evening. I may be wrong but I thought I heard the door staff tell one punter they’d be waiting until 11pm if they joined the queue that night. Again, I may be wrong. Surely you wouldn’t queue three hours for a burger. But you get the idea. These patties are in demand.
Once inside there were more queues for ordering and queues for pick-up too.
‘You will become an addict,’ he insisted.
It was a bold claim we were happy to test.
We decided to ‘go large’ with a bacon cheeseburger each, and a portion each of the Five Guys Style fries and the Cajun fries.
Apparently there are 250,000 ways to order a burger at Five Guys, if you do the maths and take into account the 15 ‘toppings’. But when it comes down to it, these toppings are pretty basic really. It’s a range of the usual lettuce, tomato, mayo, onions as well as grilled mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, and sauces like ‘Bar-B-Q Sauce, hot sauce and relish.
I do like that you can get any of these for no extra charge though. And it does feel one step above the rest when you know your burgers have been made-to-order rather than been sitting under a lamp for half an hour.
Sandwiches also feature on the menu, as do ‘little’ hamburgers. ‘Dogs’ are coming soon.
With a bottle of Brooklyn lager and a couple of soft drink cups, we were ready to roll.
The ‘addiction’ to this place (before you try the food) could come from the general novelty factor.
Coca-Cola vending machines with touch screens present you with dozens of soft drink options to choose from.
I had no idea so many types of Coca Cola owned soft drinks existed.
Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke it is then.
And if you feel inclined to do so, you can go back for more. Plenty of people did and we did initially get very excited about this novel addition. I did momentarily wish I had one of these at home.
Tearing our big brown paper bags open and creating a mountain of chips, we unwrapped our burgers.
Sadly, the condensation from being inside the foil wrapper did leave my burger bun slightly soggy on top. And I didn’t seem to have the relish I asked for. That said, it was a pretty tasty result.
Personally, I’m a thick and juicy burger kind of gal where the pattie is served quite pink in the middle. The ones that usually earn the ‘gourmet burger’ kind of title.
But I guess that’s where US burger are different. I don’t think you can give Five Guys the gourmet title.
But you can say this is quality fast food. We loved the Cajun fries (you get TONS and I personally think one portion between two is suffice). And the Five Guys fries are nice and thick, with a rustic potato skin on some of the edges which is great. They’re also cooked in peanut oil which added to the depth of flavour. And I quite liked the way the cheese was placed between the two patties so it ends up being a cheesy goo which fills the entire bun. The bacon was also deliciously crispy.
But is Five Guys worth the hype?
For the gang of Murrell brothers who turned their backs on college to start their own business in Alexandria, Virginia, they’ve certainly done well.
I like the simple American style, cool drinks machines and high quality food (for a fast food chain).
A part of me is inclined to say you could dine in one of London’s more ‘gourmet’ burger joints for the same price (our meals came to around £35) where you get table service, burgers served on plates and a variety of shakes.
But if you’re more into American-style fast food, and tons of it, where the soft drinks are unlimited and the style is informal, this is your place.
I can’t say we have developed a Five Guys addiction yet but we certainly liked the novelty, big portions, great staff and flavour. Oh and help-yourself nuts while you’re waiting for your food.
We did pass the ‘other’ new burger chain on the way home and it seems high-end fast food is the next big thing.
I’m looking forward to seeing how they compare. But for now, if you’re willing to queue for your dinner one evening and you’re feeling curious, try Five Guys Out. Let me know what you think.
Until next time x
Five Guys, 1 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9BD
Oh So London dined on a complementary basis at Five Guys but all opinions are our own. Let us know what you think OhSoLondon@gmail.com.