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, so 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.