Five Guys – Foil wrapped disappointment

To much fan fayre Five Guys have opened their latest restaurant in the bullring in the unit vacated by Del Villagio. From humble beginnings in 1986 Arlington, Virginia, where the Murrell brothers founded their first burger joint, their brand has attracted a worldwide cult following and now counts over 1,000 locations globally.

Given the hype we guessed it would be busy.  We were a bit surprised though that on arrival we were greeted not just by a busy chatty restaurant, but with the discarded paraphernalia from previous diners over almost every surface, and an upbeat playlist at an ear-bleeding volume 11.

It’s not a table service venue like Handmade Burger Company or a mixture like Gourmet Burger Kitchen, here it’s all about queuing. On our visit it was a good 10 minutes to get to order. The choices are plentiful. The claim is you can have your Five Guys burger in any of 250,000 combinations. Think Subway. Choose a burger, cheese burger, bacon burger, or a hot dog, then choose your size and toppings. You’re handed your empty cup for your drink and an order number before you head to your next queue for the food itself.

We waited just under 20 minutes for our food to be cooked, so that’s a 30 minute stood-up wait in total. The food is cooked to order in front of you in a very open kitchen, FiveGuys1so every mistake is there for you to see.  The staff were working absolutely flat out, I hope that as they get their eye in they will all speed up.

Whilst you wait for your food, it’s a good idea to send an advance party to the Coca-Cola freestyle machines. Promising over 100 flavour combinations there should be something to keep everyone happy. Alternatively you could help yourself to some free peanuts whilst you wait. You’ll find them located around the restaurant, placed in open boxes on top of the overflowing bins – none for me, thanks.


Having survived the 250,000 food combination and 100 drink flavour decisions and the 20 minute rubbish-flavoured-peanut wait we opened our carefully handed over brown paper bag, a Five Guys “trade mark”, expecting to be blown away.  The reality was we were totally disappointed with the mess that greeted us.


A big thing is made of the “amazing Five Guys fries”. Well, if you like very salty soggy fries chucked on top of your wrapped burgers then you’re in for a treat. If not, then like us yours will end up joining the peanuts at the bins.

The burgers themselves were very tasty. You get two hand formed patties with lots of toppings, all wrapped in silver foil. Whilst this helps to keep your burger warm, I do wonder if this creates its own problems with a disappointing  soggy bun to go with your nicely cooked burger. We found them very messy to eat, it’s not somewhere to go for a quick business lunch.

Price wise it’s a little above the likes of GBK – around £7 for a burger, £4 for a regular fries and £2 a soft drink. Our simple 2 burger, 2 fries and 2 soft drink meal came to £26.50. I think that’s high for what is in effect a fast food joint with lots of queuing, dirty uncleared tables, and overflowing bins.

Will we be rushing back? No. I’d rather go to GBK, Handmade Burger or track down Meatshack at Digbeth Diner on a Friday night.

Utterly disappointing.

About outinbrum

Find out where to eat, drink, and be merry in Brum.
This entry was posted in Area: Central Shopping, Area: City Centre, Area: The Bullring, Areas in Birmingham, Cuisine: English, Price: Get your dad to pay - above average and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Five Guys – Foil wrapped disappointment

  1. Above all I’m pretty shocked at the peanut on top of bin thing, and that anyone could just stick their (dirty) hands in it!

  2. Ian says:

    I was very excited to check this place out prior to reading this article. I also had a few friends who said they were very disappointed, real shame because I loved the Convent Garden store.

    • outinbrum says:

      We’ll probably give it another go – maybe it’s opening fortnight problems. Benefit of the doubt and all that…

      • Ian says:

        Yeah, hopefully they’ll impress you enough next time to warrant an update on this post.. I’ll keep my eyes on your twitter!

  3. Pingback: Soul Food from Big Papa’s B.South | Out In Brum

  4. wozzamkt says:

    I love five guys. I don’t know what you were expecting but it’s a fast food joint. Simple as that.

    • outinbrum says:

      I hear what you’re saying, but it isn’t priced as a fast food joint, and the food wasn’t fast. I reckon I’ve been to at least 500 food establishments over the last decade and think I’ve got half an idea what to expect for what amount of money – Five Guys was under par in my opinion. Did you see the photos? Was that £27 bag with burgers in and fries chucked on top OK? No. It wasn’t. That said, I did say the burgers were tasty, because they were. It’s strange that a burger joint seems to divide opinion so much – there are lots of people who absolutely rave about it, then lots of people who are confused by why anyone would rave about it.

  5. Anthony S says:

    Recently went to 5 guys (Bull ring) with my two young daughters who wanted hot dog and fries, I ordered a burger.
    Two hot dogs, 3 fries, one burger and one drink…..30 quid!
    90 percent of it went in the bin, it was absolutely disgusting, we walked away still hungry.
    The worst fast food I have ever had by a long way, how has this place survived.

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