February 8, 2011 § 12 Comments
After going to The Globe last week, it’s been difficult finding the time to go out and eat a hamburger. Even though I typically eat three meals a day, somehow I only barely manage to squeeze them in.
Therefore, it was with great cosmic intervention that my second class was canceled today right before lunchtime, thus allowing me and my roommate time to stop by Five Guys on our way home from class.
For anyone who’s never actually eaten at Five Guys, the restaurant itself is hard to miss. If the neon lights and bright red-and-white decor of the outside of the building don’t stop you, then surely the signs advertising the glory of the burgers sold within will. Any restaurant with signs in the window claiming to have burgers created by the “Willy Wonkas of Burgercraft” is worth a second glance.
So it was with high hopes and high standards that I entered into Five Guys for only the fifth time in my college career.
My roommate and I set foot in the door at 11:02 a.m. and were immediately presented with the smell of an authentic burger joint. Although nothing had been prepared yet, as Five Guys believes firmly in cooking everything to order (not a single Five Guys franchise has a freezer…impressive, no?), the restaurant still had that familiar smell of french fries and chargrilled hamburgers.
The menu at Five Guys is simple, but offers plenty of options as far as toppings go. You can get a regular or little version of any of their burgers (a regular with two patties, a little with only one), and you can add cheese and bacon to your heart’s content. Both my roommate and I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger, hers with pickles and ketchup, and mine with lettuce, tomato, ketchup and mustard. We ordered a regular side of Cajun fries to share, took our number and sat down to wait for our burgers to be freshly cooked to perfection.
While some restaurants don’t make any claims for the quality of their burgers, Five Guys can’t help but brag a little bit about the reviews they’ve gotten over the years. Or maybe brag a lot. But perhaps their bragging is warranted, given the positivity of the claims and signs plastered around the restaurant’s walls.
Rather than list the many, many claims that Five Guys has displayed on every square inch of available space, I will simply show you a few signs that speak for themselves:
Along with the signs placed throughout the restaurants, clippings from newspapers and magazines cover the walls, as well as the ratings from the Zagat Survey, which has named Five Guys among the best burgers in the nation by voters all across the country.
This burger kind of HAS to be awesome, doesn’t it? Thousands of people can’t be wrong.
It was during my perusing all of the signs in Five Guys that one of the cooks came out of the kitchen and delivered our burgers to our table, saving us the trouble of getting up when our number was called. A nice touch for a restaurant that doesn’t even employ waiters.
The burgers came in brown paper bags, wrapped up like little presents in tin foil. Opening up a burger at Five Guys is a little bit like opening up a present on Christmas morning. The anticipation of seeing what’s inside is almost as good as the actual present. Or in this case, the actual burger.
And Five Guys did not fail to impress.
I had nothing but awe for this burger. Hearty and filled with toppings: crisp lettuce, two (!!) slices of American cheese, and a heaping portion of bacon. “They’re still really hot,” my roommate pointed out, pointing to the steam swirling and floating away from my hamburger patties. And in burger terms, hot is good. Hot means fresh, as in fresh off the grill. And when my burger arrives to my table that fresh, I know it’s going to be good.
The first few bites of my burger were excellent, but only got better as I continued eating. The cheese that was cold when first placed on my burger began to melt, mixing with the juices from the meat. The bacon added the perfect amount of salty crunch while the tomato and lettuce provided a nice, cool, crisp contrast. A classic sesame seed bun held all of these delicious ingredients in place, and was perfectly soft and fresh, with neither too much or too little flavor.
The thing I marveled at the most while eating this burger is how juicy it was. The restaurant’s menu stated something along the lines of “Our burgers are cooked well-done and are always juicy!” but I immediately scoffed at the idea. (I have a tendency to disapprove of any burger cooked past medium, as I discussed in my last post.) “Yeah, we’ll see about that,” I said to myself.
Boy, was I wrong.
The burgers are thin enough that being cooked to well-done doesn’t detract from the overall burger experience. It likely has to do with the meat they’re using, probably something like a ground chuck or something with a fairly high fat content. A burger of ground sirloin could never be as juicy as this burger was if cooked to the same temperature. Although the meat itself isn’t seasoned very much, the meat has just enough flavor itself to withstand the lack of extra salt.
And it was so juicy! I just can’t get over it. Because until today, I thought only magic could keep a well-done burger from being bone dry and flavorless. These people really are the Willy Wonkas of making burgers.
So here we are, at the final score:
Quality of meat: 9
I could have used a TOUCH more salt in the meat, but with how absolutely ga-ga I was over the juiciness of the meat, I really can’t complain.
Freshness of ingredients: 8.5
Although the burger comes wrapped in tin foil and looks a little bit messy, that’s essentially what makes it a Five Guys burger.
The burgers here are simple and straightforward. You either want two patties or one, cheese or no cheese, and bacon or no bacon. But they get points for having original toppings like jalapenos and grilled mushrooms.
Overall rating: 8.5
In conclusion, I’d say Five Guys makes a great burger. Would I say it’s one of the “best burger feasts in the country?” I’m not sure. But I’d definitely say it’s probably going to be one of the best burgers you can find in Athens.
To visit Five Guys and get your very own “Christmas present” hamburger, here’s the contact information for the downtown Athens franchise:
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
101 College Ave.