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Feb 17, 2012 05:43 AM

My First 5 Guys Experience [moved from Ontario]

I'm not as much of a regular here as I used to be, but have recalled many recommendations for 5 Guys, but have never been there. Several days ago, I was at Weston & 7 to get a Panini Veal sandwich and noticed the 5 Guys, so yesterday I decided to give them a try.

To start with I will preface this with a comment on my tastes when it comes to burgers. If it is a good burger, I don't want a lot of toppings. About half the time, I'll order a burger without cheese, and put only onions, tomatoes and salt and pepper; the other half of the time, it will be bacon and cheese without any garnishes. When mushrooms are available, I'll often have those, but they're usually overpriced for the quality. There are times I tolerate processed cheese slices, but not on a anything that purports to be a quality burger. I think that burgers in most places have buns that are too big for the patty inside; there is an optimal range between bland wonder bread buns and excessive, dense thick mini-loaves; and the bun should be just enough to soak up the juices. I am indifferent between flat-top frying and open flame grilling - I have had excellent and terrible renditions of both. (The foregoing is simply to provide my frame of reference.)

First impressions, upon walking in: The place was clean and bright and "Wow!" look at all the free toppings. (Not that I use them, but it seemed like a good omen.) Looking at the flat-top grill there were rows of real, fresh ground meat burgers frying, so I'm getting excited. The buns also looked to be a reasonable size that would not overwhelm the burger.

I ordered the burger with bacon and cheese to stay, which came to nearly $10 with tax. Over the next 20 minutes - no exaggeration: I heard Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Tush and Old Time Rock and Roll in their entirety while waiting - I was able to observe the disorganization of the food preparation area and could easily see why it was taking so long to get my burger. (They could certainly use an operations review of their production setup. Every burger was taking at least a minute longer than it should and the amount of waste being generated was atrocious simply due to bad layout, poor information flow and inadequate systems training.) I soon realized that the normal burger was a double, which suited me fine. I hoped they wouldn't be wrapping and sealing my burger in foil like the others I saw being prepared, but no one was attentive or near enough to ask. Then I hear my number called and I'm handed a bag!

I rushed back to my table and unwrapped a soggy mess. As expected, sealed in foil, even if only for a few seconds, the bun was a wet mush. Oh well, at least the bun was small and, if the meats are tasty enough, it won't matter. Then I noticed the cheese: Processed slices! Cheese adds $1 to the price. Heck, at Harvey's, which should not be in the same ball-park, only charges $0.70 for real cheddar! My expectations were quickly lowering. I took a big bite and was disappointed to find that it was a bland, tasteless gooey mass. There was no browning on the meat - it might as well have been steamed. It reminded my of the old Wendy's burgers, and they are about 40% less expensive.

Honestly, I don't understand the attraction. For only about 25 cents more, I could have gone to Panini, and had a great veal and a small bowl of pretty decent chili - what I had a couple of days earlier which delivers far more value and flavour.

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  1. I rushed back to my table and unwrapped a soggy mess. As expected, sealed in foil, even if only for a few seconds, the bun was a wet mush....

    My sentiments exactly as described on all the other Five Guys threads I have participated in.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      I don't get it. Isn't 'soggy' good? Isn't it just the natural juices oozing out that makes it soggy? Without that, the meat would be dry and tasteless.

      1. re: mucho gordo

        It is NOT juice from the burger as most 5G burgers are cooked "juicy well-done" whateverthehell that is. The sogginess is the buildup of the steam inside the wrapping, leaving the bun a doughy, gummy mess. Kinda like a squashed Wonder Bread sandwich. Shake Shack and In-n-Out don't have this problem because their burgers are only wrapped on one side, allowing the steam to escape.

        1. re: monkeyrotica

          Now I understand 'soggy'. There's a different problem with In-n-out, as well as Tommy's and Fatburger, in that the way it's wrapped, melted cheese oozes out into the wrapper and the burger itself tends to slide out from between the buns.

    2. I'm betting that the aluminun squares, the plastic cup that the fries get put in & the paper bag that ever order gets sealed up in are tidy little profit centers for Five Guys Corp., hence they demand that all franchisee's serve each order this way. It certainly does nothing to enhance the product.

      1. I had two of their burgers and their fries. Was unimpressed and forget the sogginess. I opened up one of the buns and the burger looked like particle board. Very disconcerting. Awful franchise, but the lack of flavor seems to be what people want these days. BK & McD, despite what they have in them have specific flavors.

        1. I've been to 2 5G's here and 2 in Huntsville, Al. In HSV there are only 2, east and west. I've been to the west one several times with the worst experience being a very good burger. The one trip to the east one saw an okay burger.
          Here in TO I've been to the Weston and 7 and Eglinton and Warden. W&7 was merely okay. E&W was far superior.

          This chain is known for wild inconsistency. Just more evidence IMHO.


          1. Well, I just had my first Five Guys experience in Salinas, California and echo your comments. Best part was the roasted peanuts while we waited for our order.

            Beats me why it takes as long as it does to make an order. We were there at a non-peak time and as it turned out there were only two orders ahead of us, but wait we did. To bide my time, I did take a look at the newspaper articles from small towns posted around the room proclaiming 5 Guys as best burger. I feel sorry for those people.

            Like you, I was disconcerted to be handed a bag for an eat-in order. And my burger was equally soggy even though I picked it up right away at the counter. Even more puzzling, our burgers were tepid and not hot.

            Fries were pretty good, just a little underdone. A bit more time, or double-frying, they could have been special.

            Once is enough for me.