Judging by the eager patrons standing in a line backed out the door, I’m not the only one who’s heard the buzz about Tanglewood’s newest restaurant, Five Guys Burger and Fries. While the name is fairly straightforward, what they’re really selling is their reputation as the “Best Five Dollar Burger A Man Can Get.” Everything is geared to creating brand awareness and appreciation. The kudos and congratulations of critics across the nation, including the almighty Zagat, are plastered on menus, cups, and the interior walls. Can any business live up to that much hype?
Without a doubt, Five Guys serves up some darn good burgers and fries. Burgers come in two sizes: Little, which denotes a single patty, or Regular, meaning two. A single patty weighs in at a quarter of a pound. Utilizing what can only be described as “burger magic,” the meat is well-done, juicy, and flavorful without the use of additives. Customers pay extra for cheese and bacon; however, all other toppings are complimentary. Although the menu is simple, a wide variety of toppings allows for custom burger construction. Toppings range from basic, like lettuce and tomato, to bold, such as jalapeño peppers and hot sauce.
Let’s talk potatoes. Five Guys spuds are not the typical fries found in any run-of-the-mill fast food burger joint. Fries are served boardwalk-style. Despite being cooked twice, the fries don’t crunch but instead melt in your mouth. Think of it like eating deep-fried mashed potatoes. Portions are large and the regular order serves approximately two to four people. Crew members fill a cup, place it in the bag, and then pour another hefty scoop on top. The peanut oil in which they are cooked gives them a subtle yet addicting flavor. Try “Cajun” style for a little extra zip without a lot of heat.
Adding to the enthusiastic atmosphere is a hefty shot of novelty. Five Guys features ultra-high tech Coca-cola fountain drink dispensers boasting over 100 soda combinations. Using a touch-screen, customers can add shots of flavor to beverages, creating fun Coca-Cola mocktails such as Raspberry Sprite. Challenge your dining companions to a blind taste-test competition to see who has the most discerning palate.
Five Guys is a true food experience; however, it may not be for everyone. If you prefer to eat pizza with a knife and fork, you may shy away from Five Guys’ “messy is fun” approach to dining. Burgers are neatly piled high with toppings; however, they don’t stay that way for long. Fries are served in paper cups, but often roam free in the brown to-go bags. Open crates of peanuts, and their discarded shells, line the dining room floor, which poses a risk to those with severe peanut allergies.
Ultimately, Five Guys lives up to its reputation, though the hype really isn’t necessary. The energy and enthusiasm of the staff is infectious. The burgers testify of their own greatness. After polishing off the last fry from the bottom of the bag, you’ll wonder how you managed to eat them all by yourself. Then you’ll realize you can’t wait to come back for more. By the time you walk out the door, you’ll be just another Five Guys Fanatic.
Original date of publication: February 27, 2013