What a disappointment!
Five Guys Burgers and Fries. What a disappointment! Five Guys should be renamed Five Disappointments.
After the doctor appointment today I decided to treat myself to a burger and fries. I wish I had gone most anywhere else. It's a textbook example of taking something good quality and screwing it up. I think most people would agree that something average to mediocre prepared well far surpasses something top quality prepared poorly. Like taking Kobe beef and burning it. Sad really.
So many disappointments I don't know where to start. Guess I'll start with the good points. Well lit. Reasonably clean. Has both high stools/tables and normal chair/table setup. The bacon was nice and crisp (a container sits there with the precooked bacon in it - not cooked to order). And bravo, the cashier washed her hands and the food preparers washed their hands and changed gloves. (Nice to see) That's about it for the good points though that I can think of.
Plastered all over are the claims to fame, best middle price place, etc. Keep telling yourself something and you begin to believe it I guess. There were not many people in there but the cashier was antsy to hustle along and apparently was offended that I asked for the "Cajun" seasoning on the side (and boy am I glad I did!) and didn't rattle off the toppings quickly enough. Too bad sweetheart. Never been there before. And it's not like you are anxious to get to the next customer. There wasn't one! And over $13 for a burger, (regular sized) fries and (regular sized) soft drink is pretty steep. Wow came to mind. It had better be good.
About 12 minutes to get the food, not terrible but far from fast. I wonder what the place is like when (if?) they get busy. The burger is wrapped in foil and placed in the botttom of a paper lunch bag, then half the fries go in a cup and the other half are dumped loosely into the bag over everything. No tray. It's all prepped "to go". Half the fries, even at 3/4 the price would have been plenty for a normal meal, but I'd have eaten them all if they were good. I like good fries. Detest bad ones. It's a shame to throw out good fries. No problem pitching these things.
Fries. Definite promise, but... Skin on potatoes, presumably fresh cut? I'm not too sure after eating them though. They have a sign on the wall saying from where "today's" potatoes came. It was someplace in Washington, I don't remember exactly, in case you were wondering. Greasy. Limp. and cooled "nicely". Sad. Fresh cut taters, hot out of the fryer can be a glorious treat but they degrade fast so getting them out hot is the key. Wendy's fries, even before changing to skin-on beat the daylights out of these things. What a waste of potatoes. And it hit me just now, what was that taste? I wonder if they add sugar to their fries like some other fast food joints?
And their "Cajun" seasoning? What a joke. I think I can give you their secret recipe: paprika, sugar and salt. No discernible black or red pepper. No chili powder, garlic, onion or anything in there. Not much taste other than the sugar. Ugh. Justin Wilson is probably spinning in his bayou grave over calling this "Cajun"! But I'm sure the FAS people love it. Maybe they'll offer marshmallows on them soon.
After digging into the fries and getting the burger out... well, the taste of the burger was certainly OK but it was nothing special. Two patties vs one thick one. Actually I often make a double burger with thinner patties but I get a good sear on there. These were McDonalds gray. Comparable in taste (maybe) to a Burger King burger but a Baconator is vastly superior and about $2 cheaper even with about 4 times the bacon on it than the bacon cheeseburger at Five Disappointments.
The bun is a typical grocery store/fast food joint sesame seed bun. Nothing special. It's warmed on a cool grill to give the impression of freshness but I don't understand why they didn't go the extra mile and toast it to make it something special. I'm sure the idea is it'll steam a bit in the foil to soften it up. A toasted grocery store bun can be very acceptable. Disappointing though when, on an $8 burger the meat doesn't even cover the bun! In the back of my mind I heard Clara Peller shouting "WHERE'S THE BEEF?"
Drinks. Typical serve yourself fountain drinks. Or you can buy a bottle of water for $1.99. $2.19 for a regular sized drink and $2.29 for a large. They've GOT to be kidding! I would like to see more places put Diet 7-Up or Diet Sprite in the mix. I don't want cola. I don't want caffeine. I don't want all that sugar. I want something lighter. Yeah, I'm fussy. And I don't want to pay $2 for a bottle of water! Decaffeinated, unsweetened iced tea could be OK but that's not available in fountain drinks it seems.
Atmosphere. I was trying to figure out who was their target clientele. Presumably upscale fast fooders. Certainly not a place you'd meet a client or anything. Not exactly family friendly. Not sure. Noisy so it's not a place to relax and do some paperwork. Exhaust fans roaring and the music was blasting to cover it up. High, open ceilings and tiled walls so it echoed nicely.
Staff. Well let's see, one guy really seemed to enjoy what he was doing. He sang along with the blasting music, was efficient and kept moving nonstop. The cashier was old and maybe she was tired of the noise after only a couple hours. One other cook seemed to be focused with a serious look on his face. The only one I saw out in the dining area, well she seemed to just be putting in her time. So all in all, pretty normal staff! :)
Their little shtick is free in the shell peanuts... with signs on it that due to "allergies" peanuts are not to be taken out of the place! Oh come on! Can't you just come up with a better way to say "don't load your bag with the freebies"?
I can go to a couple different bars and get a great burger. The one place I could have gone to has B1G1F burgers today and a beer special. For what I paid at Five Disappointments, I could have gotten two 1/2# burgers, crisp fries and a 32 oz ice-cold tap beer. WishIwudda! But, live and learn.
Maybe it's just me, but a fast food joint having a tip jar I have to wonder why. Why would I give a gratuity when they're not going out of their way to help me. I pick up my food. I get my own drinks. I get my own "secret meatloaf sauce".. And I even clear the table and throw away the garbage! Nope, no gratuity from me today.
This is a place crying for an appearance on Kitchen Nightmares. So much potential. Such poor execution. They need a Gordon Ramsay type to shout "STANDARDS!" at them. It really could be something special. Gotta admit, I've gained some respect for White Castle. Uh, but not much.
I'm not saying I'll never try them again, but it'll be a long time I'm sure. So many good options available. And I imagine someone with a relationship with the 5 guys will will stampede in ordering me to never go there again! :) And that would be fine too.