Thursday 25 July 2013

Restaurant Review - Five Guys, Covent Garden

Restaurant name: Five Guys
Location: Covent Garden, London
Description: Fast food burger chain that is hugely popular in America and has now launched in the UK. It was started by a family (of five brothers) in the 1980s and now has more than 1,000 locations in the U.S. They claim there are over 250,000 ways to order a burger at Five Guys, as there are so many toppings to choose from and you 'build your own' with exactly what you want - whether that's bacon, cheese, onions, barbecue sauce, jalapeno peppers etc. The restaurant looks like a fast food outlet, but somehow cooler - the red and white decor reminds me of 1950s style, there are giant sacks of potatoes marking out where to queue, and a large container of peanuts to help yourself from while you wait.

Sacks of potatoes

Reason for visit: My boss's boss was over from America and he wanted to take us there for a team lunch - the place had only just opened and it's a restaurant he knows well from back home.
I ate: A simple, unadulterated cheeseburger (it turns out the standard burger has two patties, and I think you have to order the "little" burger option for just one). I didn't want to distract from the flavours with any toppings. We also shared both kinds of fries - Five Guys Style and Cajun Style.
My companions ate: We all had burgers - they only serve burgers, hot dogs or vegetarian sandwiches - but with various toppings. By 'sandwich' Americans generally mean burger in a bun, but Five Guys don't serve veggie burgers - instead you have a selection of vegetables and toppings in a bun.

Large carton of fries

The food was: Amazing - a day later and I'm still daydreaming about the burger. The burger was juicy, piping hot and the melted cheese was just right. It was so filling I didn't even want dinner either! The Cajun fries were crispy on the outside, but fluffy on the inside, and had quite a kick. The vegetarian in our group was also very happy with her meal. There's also a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, which I described in this review; as I'd seen one before, I knew what to do, but it was funny watching my colleagues puzzle over it. Some of them complained they would much rather have a 'normal' soda - which you can of course get from the machine, but you still have to go through all the options. I, on the other hand, loved my cherry vanilla flavour Coke!
The service/atmosphere was: There was a queue outside but it moved quickly and when we were inside, we were served very fast. There are small tables and stools upstairs and a large seating area downstairs- we had no problem getting a table for ten. As we put in such a large order it was brought down to us as well which we weren't expecting, with every burger wrapped in foil and numbered, so we could see from the receipt who had which one. It's the sort of place where people eat quickly and leave, or get takeaway, but it still had a nice, buzzy atmosphere.


Price range/value for money: In the restaurant and on the website there are reviews describing a Five Guys burger as "the best $5 burger a man can eat". Now, I realise we're in central London where overheads are a lot higher, but the cheeseburger was £8, which is about $12. To be fair the "little hamburger" is £4.75 (about $7) but I doubt many people would choose that. The restaurant is pricing itself more in line with Byron or GBK, but those are restaurants where you would have a sit-down meal, maybe with a milkshake and dessert. Five Guys comes across more as an upmarket takeaway joint so it is a little pricey compared with McDonald's. Then again, it's about ten times better than McDonald's. The toppings are all free, and if you order your burger "all the way" you get eight toppings for the same price as a plain burger, so that's definitely good value in relative terms. There are free refills on the sodas too.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I really enjoyed the burger and already want to go again! It's not somewhere I'd go as a destination restaurant if I was meeting friends for dinner, but if you're on the go or on your way to see a show then it would be ideal. And indeed if you can get there and back from the office in time for lunch, then you really must!
Help yourself to peanuts

1 comment:

  1. Their burgers in the US are heavenly, craving one now! Going to London at the weekend & will stop by for sure if I get the opportunity.


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