Monday, April 7, 2008

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

I was excited when I heard that the Five Guys chain was coming to NYC for while I had not tried their burgers their reputation preceded them. Often likened to an East coast version of the revered West coast In-N-Out Burger because they offer freshly grilled, never frozen beef and fresh cut fries in the environs of a fast food chain. Five Guys has plans for national expansion, indeed while In-N-Out ventures no further east than Tuscon AZ Five Guys plans on opening in Carson CA soon. Since spring 2007 four locations have opened up in NYC alone, with another one planned for Laguardia Place in the West Village.

Despite my initial enthusiasm I became dissuaded from eating there because of a number of comments on A Hamburger Today by its reader that the burgers are "cooked to death" indeed the companies website confirmed that the burgers are cooked well done, although they claim that they remain juicy.

When a Five Guys opened on Bleeker Street, a few blocks from Florence Meat Market, one of my favorite butchers, I decided to venture in for a quick bite. Turns out I was there on almost the first day and my worst fears where realized as the burger was thoroughly dried out and mealy. However, I withheld final judgment for it was clear that the restaurant was not really operating ideally. There was no way that the chain could have enjoyed such rapid growth on the back of the burger I ate. I did sense a potentially tasty burger as the ingredients were fresh and the beef, despite being very dry at least had some reminisce of flavor. I planned on a return visit but that plan sort of fell through the cracks.

The beef was completely dried out on my initial visit

Interestingly it was a spirited discussion with Beef Aficionado reader sickchangeup in the comments section of my In N Out Burger review regarding double versus single burgers that reminded my about Five Guys. As a lover of In N Out sickchangeup commented that the Five Guys patty "definitely tastes like your basic chuck burger, and I like that it's designed to be a double. It's just got a very classic burger taste that I found satisfying in a "eat it once a month at most" sort of way."

After my last visit I couldn't agree more. The burger was far better than the one I sampled on my initial visit. While obviously not as juicy as a rare or medium rare burger from any number of local spots it was acceptable for a burger cooked through. I agree with sickchangeup's appraisal that it is "basic chuck" burger, it did not have that extra juiciness and burst of flavor that one gets from, for example, the custom brisket and chuck blend at Shake Shack. Never the less it had a good beef flavor and the bun was perfectly tailored for the double patty.

While sickchangeup prefers a double at In N Out I always go for the single. At Five Guys however I have to admit that the regular "cheeseburger" which is actually two patties, is the way to go. The single was lost in a sea of bun. I should note that on both occasions I found the onions to be rather pungent and over powering as well as being far to chunky for the relative svelteness of the burger.

The hand cut fries are quite good, crispy and fresh with no residual grease taste. I am not a huge fan of skin on fries but these were some of the better examples of the breed. I found them, just as I found the burgers, to be while not my preferred choice perfectly acceptable incarnations of their type. Certainly miles ahead of the other fast food chains. Just as I was finishing up this review I came across a mention of Five Guys in George Motz' book Hamburger America that I think sums up the draw of the chain succinctly - "Corporate burger biggies are in trouble when even drunken college students can tell the difference between fresh and frozen burgers."

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Numerous locations

Beef Aficionado visited:

296 Bleecker Street,
New York, NY 10014
tel. 212-367-9200


sickchangeup said...

Hey - that's me! Glad they fixed you up something good, or else they'd have made me look silly.

DocChuck said...

I've been to In N Out only twice . . . because they are two thousand miles from where I live, but their burgers are GREAT.

I've been to Five Guys only once . . . because even though I live in their "home territory", their burgers are mediocre at best (in my opinion).

MrsDocChuck said...

Meant to mention on the Williamsburger thread that I'm with you on liking flatter, smaller griddled burgers. Though I do love a good charlcoal grilled burger and steam makes sliders sublime

I love In and Out Burgers. I travel to LA once a month and ALWAYS make a point to pig out there. I buy some on the way to the airport to eat on the plane, even. It's a wonder I don't weigh 400 pounds.

I don't think 5 Guys comes that close to In and Out but I do think they make a pretty darn good burger.

DocChuck said...

"MrsDocChuck", I mean Louise (chiffOnade) in Clearwater, Florida . . . the last time I viewed your photo on your "MySpace website":

it appeared that you DID weigh 400 pounds.

And of course, you have repeatedly told other posters that your boyfriend "BigBear" weighs 437 pounds, and pokes holes in the walls of your trailer house when you cook for him.

Maybe that trip from Clearwter, Florida, to LA every month is packin' on the pounds? Whadda you think, CHIFFoNADE? (oops, darn CapsLock key) . . . I meant chiffOnade.

Nick said...

I am sorry that this situation has once again reared its head and that I am forced to deal with spurious issues wholly outside of my mission here. I am busy and devote as much time as I can to this blog but I am not here to police the comments section and deal with flame wars.

@mrsdocchuck your veiled attempts at sincerity at least exhibit a passion for and knowledge of food and I would welcome you as a reader and commentator but for my suspicion that you are only here to goad docchuck. I am going to respectfully request that you post under a different name, if you are indeed interested in what I have to say. While I have appreciated some of the comments you have made it is hard for me to take them seriously enough to respond to because I doubt their earnestness.

MrsDocChuck said...

Excuse me?

I am sorry but I fail to see how I goaded anyone with any post I have made here. Rather, it seems that someone I do not know overreacted and attempted to insult me with comments inappropriate to any serious blog.

My husband's name is Chuck and he is a dentist here in NYC. Thus his nickname. I'm the only one who uses it -- he hates it.

I recently semi-retired and with more time on my hands have had my eyes opened to the world of internet blogs and websites.

We enjoy eating out a lot and I am always in search for quality blogs and websites about NYC dining.

Yours is a very, very good one (though I wish you'd post more). The fact that it's about beef sets it apart in an interesting way.

Equally respectfully, I must say no to your request that I change my screen name in order to post here. That seems like a very unfair thing to ask of someone who has caused you no trouble and who does not wish to go through the bother of setting up another email account.

There are lots of other blogs that do welcome my participation, so I will simply just post on those.

Hopefully you can get Peter Lugar to stop slicing the steak, though! :-)

And find me the best Kobe Shabu Shabu joint downtown.

Sincerely, Diane, Chuck the Dentist's wife of 28 years.

MrsDocChuck said...

Sorry, I forgot to make clear that I probably won't be reading Beef Aficionado much either after this, so if you have a shabu shabu recommendation, please post it soon.

And good luck to you anyway.

DocChuck said...

Sorry, Nick, that I have once again been prevented from posting on a website that I really enjoyed.

This woman, Louise (chiffOnade) has once again accomplished her goal of preventing me and my wife, Elizabeth, from posting on the food blogs.

We will not create another "situation" on your website by posting our opinions.

Sorry to have caused you a problem.

Nick said...

@ mrsdocchuck/Diane This brouhaha may or may not be a case of mistaken identity. Back in January of this year a poster using the screen name "mrsdocchuck" posted a number of goading and derisive comments as follow ups to posts made by docchuck. It became apparent that these where not legitimate posts and where inflammatory enough that I felt compelled to remove them. If you where not the poster I apologize for the error on my part. I am sorry to lose you as a reader and upon further reflection I feel that I was unfair in requesting that you change your screen name but as I stated at the time it was because I felt your posts where insincere.

As for a downtown Kobe shabu shabu I recommend Lan, reviewed in Beef Aficionado in August 2007. Link:

@docchuck Please don't think that I hold you responsible for this situation. There is a possibility that the most recent posts are entirely unrelated to the posts back in January and that we may have both jumped, albeit understandably, to conclusions.
I will miss your contributions, they have always been welcome additions to the discourse here and I hope that you will reconsider.

chiffonade said...

I apologize for the turmoil caused by Doc Chuck and all the pseudonyms he uses to impersonate me on the internet. Please contact me at the following e-mail address and I will be happy to fill you in on his escapades over the last three years.

BigBear said...

My girlfriend chiff0nade gets a little troublesome at times with her fantasies that she has "impersonators" all over the cyberworld.

Then her daughter (who posts as MrsDocChuck) just adds to chiff0nade's agitation (they have been estranged for several years).

I apologize for Chiffy's outbursts, and will try to keep her off the keyboard while she is drinking.

You can email me and I will explain the many problems she has suffered since her fourth divorce.


chiffonade said...

Big Bear and I are having too much fun in the Keys to address this right now but if the blog operator would like more information about Doc Chuck and his escapades on the internet - I'm happy to fill you in. Please e-mail me: I'm going back to my margaritas and conch right now...

<3 Chiffy

BigBear said...

SORRY, once again. Every time I turn my back, Louise (chiff0nade) is on the dam computer.

I mean some guy called "docchuck" seems to be the center of her entire life. I think she is in love with this guy, even though I have let her move into my trailer house, pay her bills, drive her to the jail to visit her daughter, and take her to the food bank every week.

I don't know what else to do. I hocked my favorite fishing reel to take Louise to Key West for a few days . . . hoping that she would forget about DocChuck.

But NO. She is constantly on the food blogs about this guy (or gal, for all I know).

Please email me and I will try to explain her weird behavior.


BrotherChiffonade said...

I must agree with my sister chiff0nade. That guy DocChuck is bad news.

chiffonade said...

I can see the lunatic is at it again. Bloggers beware - Doc Chuck is on the loose (inclusive of all the little Chucklets in his head).

Clearwater, FL