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Five Guys Burgers and Fries

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by Jennifer Walter (subscribe)
Jennifer is a busy, busy bee.
Published January 4th 2014
Five Guys, One Girl
Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons


Some fast food burger establishments have arches. Some have kings. But the one thing they all have in common is that although the food can be utterly crack-esque and moreish; it is actually not very good.

The meat is grey. The bun is flat and thin. The chips are flaccid and the lettuce resembles a sodden tissue. The picture of your meal gives you false hope and the only way to guarantee it arrives hot is to be picky enough on purpose that your order must be made fresh.

But there IS. Another way.

Enter stage right; Five Guys.

Five Guys is a burger chain that was started in 1986 in Washington DC by, of course, five guys; The Murrell brothers were told by their parents to either "start a business or go to college" and so, they started a burger joint. Very quickly Five Guys became popular enough to develop a cult following and four more restaurants with seating were developed as Five Guys reputation grew.

Flash (fry) forward and in 2013, after 30 years of wowing the States, Five Guys has come to the UK. And we are gulping it down. And for good reason. Five Guys is sublime. Utterly sublime. Every ingredient is fresh. There is not a single freezer in any Five Guys establishment. They use fresh roll stamped prime beef. They only ever use peanut oil (which fries at a higher temperature, and results in the food picking up less of the oil) and every single topping is free.

Five Guys also pride themselves on cleanliness and this is obvious when you eat in one of their restaurants. Decked out in American diner style booths, the place is light and airy and the staff are continually visible mopping and wiping around the place.

I dropped a chip and immediately by my side was a gent with a dustpan and brush. Obviously you expect any restaurant to be kept clean, but when was the last time you stepped into a McDonald's that genuinely felt bright and speckless? Personally I always feel like they seem grimy, even if grime is not actually visible. Five Guys, with it's red and white interior, feels immaculate upon entry despite the obviously heavy footfall it receives.

Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons


And the food! oh God the Food! Keeping it simple, Five Guys have a relatively limited menu of burgers, fries and hotdogs. Because if it isn't broken there is no point in fixing it. Although I have not tried a hotdog, I fear I never will; the burger I had was so delicious I will probably never order anything else from there.

After eagerly waiting at the bright red counter top for my number to be called (after snacking on some free monkey nuts whilst I waited) this little (and by little I mean HUGE) beefy beauty arrived. Wrapped in it's foil, it had to be at least four inches thick with a roughly matching diameter. I knew that this burger meant business. After a quick foray over to the drinks machine for my companion's beverage (automatic free refills by the way, and also the machine is a work of art in itself!) we settled down for our burger-binge.

"My boyfriend says you can't eat it if you completely unwrap the foil," said my companion. Her boyfriend was right. I released my huge burger from it's wrapping and it was so full of incredible toppings the whole event immediately became messy and sauce covered. I cared not. The most melt-in-your-mouth flavoursome burger mince cooked to sheer perfection; not crispy, not bleeding - just right.

And then comes the toppings, which if you choose "All the Way", includes the freshest, crunchiest lettuce and tomato slice, some lightly fried onions which have a gorgeous sweetness, earthy mushrooms and of course, the big burger three; tomato sauce, mustard and gherkins. You can add other things such as jalepenos or other sauces, which are all free - but when the meat tastes that good it's arguable that anything extra than "All the Way" is unnecessary. To be honest, even the patty, plain, would be totally satisfactory because it is just of such excellent quality for a take away burger.

And then, of course, encased in a deliciously soft, bouncy bun.
The whole burger is so perfect it looks like a caricature of itself.

The fries, too, are perfectly soft in the middle with a delightful but subtle crunch on the outside.

To top it all off, you can buy a beer. I mean, a beer, with a burger - seems SO obvious and yet none of the other major burger chains do it. Certainly not in England, anyway.

I mean, it sounds like I'm gushing about this place, and there is a good reason for that; I am.

I've searched long and hard for an appropriate word to describe this meal and the most honest and true word I can think of is; real. The food is real. Yes it's fried, yes it's "fast", but I have never experienced a take away burger to this size, taste and quality before. Unbelievable. Bravo, Five Guys.

Forewarning; currently there are only THREE Five Guys currently in the UK; Reading, Convent Garden and Islington. Order online if you live local and then go pick up.

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Why? so, so, so, SO, SO GOOD
When: Whenever
Phone: 0800 0833 005
Where: Reading, Covent Garden, Islington
Cost: roughly 10 a head
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