What a disappointment!

CynicSeptember 5, 2012

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.

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Each their own...what you think is great...sucks to others. I'm not a huge fan of 5 guys. burger is ok ,but to greasy!! Do enjoy thier fries!! Its not meant to be fast like Mcdonalds or burger king. Tipping is a personal preference. Many people tip at Starbucks--They dont do anything different than 5 guys--u still have to stand around and get ur drink when they have completed it.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:12PM
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Cynic, if you look there was a thread on Five Guys a few days ago.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:22PM
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We tried our 5 Guys too, and it was just another fast food place.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Cynic - you should write reviews for your local newspaper!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:28PM
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I never heard of them until these threads
Had a good $1 menue Cheeseburger and fries and their new frozen coffee at Wendy's today very good

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 9:04PM
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I don't like their burger and fries, but my DH does. There is always a huge line, so others must love it too and it's not a cheap burger.

I like my bun toasted and they are willing to do that for you, but by the time it gets to me it's mushy. I'm used to In and Out burger where the burger is not wrapped in foil, thereby not steaming the contents. I dislike wilted lettuce on a hamburger, once it gets to that point, it's tasteless and slimy. Even though it's only wrapped in foil for a few minutes before I get it, for me it affects the contents. I do like that they offer grilled onions and bacon, but any other add on's only complicate the classic taste. I do love my burgers lol

The fries do taste like fresh cut potatoes, but they are greasy. I think the wow factor comes from the quantity.

There are a couple of mom/pop places that I am able to get what I consider a true burger and In and Out is pretty good option if the fries are hot.

I was watching a show on the Travel Channel about the best burgers in the U.S. They talked about The Butter Burger in Wisconsin. The toasted bun is smeared with 3 or so tablespoons of butter which then melts throughout the burger. Gobs of melted butter swimming on the plate, but apparently the best part is dipping everything in it. It both sickened and intrigued me. I kept looking for Paula Deen somewhere in that diner lol

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 9:30PM
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I rather like 5 Guys myself

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 9:59PM
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Cynic excellent review. Spot on with my experience(s) there. I went twice. Once for a burger and once for a hotdog. Never again. How can a split grilled hot dog be served luke warm when you are eating in? They managed it somehow.

I stopped for a burger to go at my favorite place today and the owner and I were discussing 5 Guys and other food paces in general while he was cooking my burger on his revolving charcoal grill.

Like me he is not a food snob. We enjoy trying all kinds of foods and it's about the food not the ambiance for us. He and I would both rather eat at McDonald's over 5 Guys. At least at McDonalds you don't expect high standards and you know what is in there.

He also lamented on how Taco Bell has changed so much over the years. I steered him toward a good alternative.

When my burger was done he asked how far I was going and if I wanted it boxed and wrapped separate from the nicely toasted bun so it wouldn't get soggy. I said I was just going to eat it outside but that's service!!! He gave me some extra sheets of wrap to hold it together.

Burger was $5.75 plus tax. Hand formed from beef ground on the premises. Jack cheese. Buttered toasted Sara Lee roll.
From the condiment bar I added old fashioned red relish,leaf lettuce fresh tomato and pineapple.

Five Guys? More expensive and would have been a wet mass of slop.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:28PM
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Cynic I'm right with you. Hubby and I tried ours ONCE and never went back. There must have been 10 people behind the counter and they still managed to mess up our order. The fries were half cooked, just enough to be limp and greasy and the burger wasn't even average in taste. I guess we weren't the only ones that didn't care for the place because it has since closed it's doors in our little community. I hate to see any place go out of business but can understand why this one is gone. Now my daughter says the one in her area is good.
Hubby and I prefer the good hand made burger from a little county market in our area. The meat is the size of the bun after its cooked, every thing is fresh and cooked to prefection with nice juicy meat.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:57PM
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I think their food would be better if it was just put on the tray ...not wrapped in foil and bagged. It STEAMS everything. Even if we do get take out at Mickey D's, I do NOT want the bag closed. Totally messes up the food.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:15AM
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I've eaten at several different fast food joints in my area. In my opinion, the best burgers are at Burger King and McDonald's. The best meat sandwich is sliced beef at Arby's. The fries vary. The ones fried in olesta are a little disagreeable to my system. I think the McDonald's tried olesta and changed to something else a couple of years ago. The burgers at Culver's could be tasty but they slather on too much butter. They are dripping with grease. The best meal at Culver's is the pot roast dinner. Everything else is quite ordinary.

Although Wendy's is trying, their burgers are the worst of the bunch. Many years ago I tried A Wendy's burger. it was served undercooked. That turned me off and I stayed away. Lately, their new try at the market enticed ne to try again. The burgers were cooked this time, but not very tasty and the price was higher than McDonald's. Wendy's is off my list.

I am expecting to see the price of meats and burgers shot up sometime next year due to this year's drough and crop failure. Right now, ranchers are thinning their herds so there is plenty of meat on the market, but that will end soon. This fall after harvest time, Wisconsin diary farmers will be facing a big decision: to stay or get out. A number of small operators are expected to quit due to the price of cattle food and low milk prices.

I don't think that the US public realizes what this year's drought has done to our food supply. It will affect the gross national product because the US will ship out less grain. This represents a drag on the balance of trade with the rest of the world.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:36AM
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Taste certainly is subjective but I have to suspect that the sheeple have become so ingrained with the belief that "fast food" (and for the record, I don't consider McDonalds or Burger King to be fast anymore) has to be bland and mediocre. Has the prepared frozen food diet of North Americans killed the desire or lowered the standards of expectation? I wonder. With the "open a can of mushroom soup", "add a packet of onion soup mix", "peel back the plastic and bake/microwave" type of, so-called "cooking" that so many people do these days one wants to cry for the tastebuds of people. No more sugar and spice and everything nice, it's Sugar and salt... it's everyone's fault.

I don't like that overpriced salt-lick that Arby's calls roast beef anymore. They used to have a cold turkey sandwich that was great. I did have a chicken salad wrap there a while back that was very good. And their curly fries are seasoned and far closer to "Cajun" than the "Cajun" (sugar frosted fries) at Five Disap Guys. To me, Subway has some decent sandwiches though I mourn the loss of Clark's Submarine Sandwich shops. I also like a McD's McChicken and the Monterey Ranch Chicken from Wendy's. I'll still head to a deli and pick up some meats, a decent bakery roll and make my own sandwich on occasion. Doesn't have to be fancy to be good.

I think I figured out why everything there is lukewarm. First, of course the burger is not cooked to the point it's piping hot and a thin patty loses heat quickly. That's understandable. But the fries. Thinking back they dump the fries into a (room temp) stainless steel container. (Food police require virtually everything to be stainless steel) Stainless is great for cooling food down. Then they take a stainless (naturally) scoop and scoop the fries into a small stainless container, presumably measuring the portion, then scooped into the paper cup which won't contribute to keeping them hot, then dumped into the bag over the burger that's been waiting on the counter. How *can* it come to you hot? LOL

Culver's is an interesting place. I tried to like it. I tried hard. They had a lot of possibilities too. But, while I like a bit of a crust on the burger, I don't like it burned. Blackened is for Prudhomme's catfish, not a fast food burger. And I usually like crinkle cut fries, but theirs has a metallic taste and I suspect it's a preservative but it still tastes like something that's been in the freezer too long. Guess I should give them another try. Maybe things have improved.

Taco Bell. Ah. First, I'm upset that the soft shell chicken taco is gone. Used to be 99ยข, now not availble. And there is a taste in some of the things that doesn't agree with my tastebuds. I'll have to try different locations. Could be the one place. But I still miss the Zapata/Zantigo Taco Burrito from decades ago.

Many things affect pricing. When gasoline goes up, it costs more to haul to market. When propane goes up it costs more to dry the corn so the farmer faces moisture docking or spending more in drying to get a better price. However places like McDonalds or Burger King don't rely on the family farm for providing their meat (by-?)products. They contract with big operations so I doubt the $1 McDouble will go up because of one poor year in some areas. If prices go up there, it's more attributable to advertising costs, labor costs, R&D and bonuses and perks to the board members IMO.

Oh, and thanks maire_cate! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Clara:

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:37AM
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do you have a red robin?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:55AM
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Yes Red Robin is great place for burger and fries. Love their onion rings too.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 6:14AM
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ours is in the next town...about 10 miles away...not worth the drive...but I have eaten there once...It was ok...waaaay tooo much food...I want to try and IN AND OUT burger...

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:07AM
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In And Out burgers are tasty but the single is a bit skimpy on the meat making it way too much bun. The double is much better but I find them a bit too much. But they are cheap enough so I just eat what I want.

I order them animal style but light on the dressing.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:49AM
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For me, a successful burger place offers a decent vegetarian option. It's not that difficult to do. It's not just the vegetarians but also the people who avoid red meat for whatever reason.

Usually when I order one, it's some limp soggy vegetable patty on a naked bun. The worst is when they throw the veggie burger on the same grill as the meat. That drives me nuts and I won't eat it if that happens. I usually ask first, and some places will cook it separately and some won't. Their prerogative, but I only spend my money at places that will.

I appreciate those places that accommodate different, reasonable eating habits and I consider being a vegetarian one of those considering how many of us there are. There's a place called The Counter here in Southern CA that is supposed to be good but I haven't tried it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:39AM
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cynic, do try Burger Moes on West 7th close to downtown St. Paul. Great burgers!!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Cynic, you are spot on with this review.

Yes, they give you a ton of fries but they are so soggy I can't imagine why anyone would like them that way. Won't be going back.

Wendy's has a better burger and fries and you don't have to take out a 2nd mortgage to feed a family.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 3:24PM
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There is a Five Guys here in town right next to where I usually get my hair cut, that people had been raving about. Twice while trying to kill time until the hair cut, I went into Five Guys, waited in line for about 5 minutes, and got so turned off by the slow line, the peanut shells littering the grease-slickened floor, and the sign atop the menu declaring "All of our burgers are cooked to well-done" that I ended up leaving without ordering anything.

A third time I was determined to try the food, and was not at all impressed. The burger made up for the fact that it was overcooked by being very greasy, the bun was soggy and flavorless, the lettuce was wilted from being steamed while the burger was wrapped in foil. The fries were far, far too many, and way too salty, and were mushy and greasy, and they went from too hot to eat, to too cold and greasy, seemingly without ever passing through the "just right" temperature.

I went to a local hot-dog restaurant that seemed to be aiming for "like Five Guys, but with hot dogs instead of burgers" and their fries were some of the best I'd ever had. Maybe that's how Five Guys was when it first started out, and its merely that the local franchisee is not doing such a great job, but I'll certainly not be back.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:34AM
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Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the grease smell! Amazing with the fans going. Filters must have been plugged!

Red Robin isn't bad, I enjoy going there occasionally. Had a couple times they were lukewarm but the burgers were good and I like the steak fries. They're cooked properly. Haven't tried the onion rings, wish they had a smaller portion!

I've wanted to go try Shamrock's & The Nook. They have a good reputation but I understand they're usually packed. Couple 20 year old kids took the place over. I like to see them succeed. But the interesting thing is they brought back the original owner to teach them how to do it right. Smart kids!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:51AM
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Never heard of this joint/chain.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:19AM
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I went to one about 6 months ago when we were out of town (none local.) I was not impressed. We have a local sports bar & grille that does the BEST burgers at about the same price as 5 guys. And we get potato salad & cole slaw (both delicious) as options to fries (I don't eat fries.) I'm not a fan of franchises in general, but I gave 5 guys a try.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 12:02AM
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