As part of our mission, CTbites only reviews restaurants that we feel are crave-worthy, but every now and then the rules get a little fuzzy. Earlier this week, Five Guys Burgers and Fries FINALLY opened in Westport, and it did so with a bevy of anticipation and buzz. In honor of this eagerly awaited launch, we decided to put five of our top meat eaters on the case. Here you have it...The ups and downs of Five guys on Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
Guy #1: One of Five on Five Guys
by Chris Nashawaty, Senior Writer, Entertainment Weekly
First thing’s first: Five Guys is going to need more parking.
When I dropped by to quiet my cheeseburger sweet tooth last weekend, not only was the line of drooling meat-eaters out the door, cars were literally backed up, snaking out onto the Post Road causing traffic. I think we can all agree that Fairfield County is a great place to live. But as a burger mecca, it’s always been a bit lacking--especially along the row of interchangeable strip malls on Route 1 in Westport where
the new Five Guys sits like a beacon of beef.
That stretch of road has plenty of fast, cheap, and lousy burger joints like McD’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. And of course
on the other end of the sirloin spectrum, there’s the relatively ritzy Burger Bar & Bistro in SoNo
What the area has been missing is something in the middle—a burger joint that’s quick and inexpensive, but also serves up something a bit better than a Whopper
that’s been sitting under a heat lamp since the Eisenhower Administration. Five Guys is that place, folks.
The Virginia-based burger chain’s offerings are pretty straight-forward, almost spartan: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon cheeseburgers, and dogs).
And the toppings aren’t trying to be all cutesy and nouveau—you won’t find quince paste or mango chutney here, just
staples like onions, mushrooms, A-1 sauce,
etc.). Cajun fries are about as crazy as it gets. And yet,
there’s something to be said for sticking to the basics and nailing them.
Five Guys nails them.
My cheeseburger was fresh, juicy, and flavorful.
(which were made from potatoes grown in Shelley, Idaho, according to a sign near the front)
were salted to perfection and still had their skins on.
And while I didn’t see a milkshake on the menu (I mean, what’s better with a burger and fries than a vanilla milkshake?), the self-serve soda fountain made me do a double-take by
offering Mr. Pibb.
Mr. Pibb! Actually, everything was so tasty I thought about heading up to the register to order seconds. Too bad that line was so long.
Guy #2: Jfood Not Number Six at Five Guys
by jfoods, CHOWHOUND Regular, Burger Aficionado
The allure of Five Guys Burgers’ most recent franchise launch in Westport, Connecticut was irresistible after prior visits to several out of state locations.
I eagerly anticipated their mouthwatering fries, juicy burgers and tasty hot dogs.
At 11:15 the restaurant was in full swing.
Craving a full range of flavors, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and grilled onions, a hot dog with mustard and relish plus a small order of fries. I waited 35 minutes for my order, not a great start.
The operating staff appeared to be totally comprised of teenagers.
Unbeknownst to arriving customers, management had previously accepted an enormous take-away order for an 11:30 pick-up, which threw a major cog in the burger assembly line. The inexperienced staff was left to fend for themselves with no visible adult supervision. As additional orders piled up, the horror and stress in their faces can be best described as Ferris Bueller meeting Henry Ford, a dozen teens manning an assembly line of burgers, fries and dogs.
Five Guys is famous for its juicy, well-done burgers, but there are two, more important, aspects to a great hamburger, taste and texture. While
the burgers definitely scored high on the juicy scale, they had very little beef flavor and no textural integrity
. In addition, the lack of any char on the outside and the large number of simultaneously cooked burgers created a
stewed versus a grilled end product.
The small piece of iceberg lettuce and the two slices of tomatoes were tasteless while the grilled onions were more raw than grilled.
The bun was the highlight
, which was good and did not fall apart from the burgers’ juice and the toppings.
The burgers proved very disappointing to this burger enthusiast.
Most fans of Five Guys rave about their crispy and salty fries, including me.
Unfortunately the quality control for my order was awful. The fries were slightly undercooked, still a bit hard in the middle, and they forgot to salt this batch. Without salt the fries were bland and unappealing to my palate. This was one of the few times I did not finish an order of fries.
Ironically, the redeeming feature of my meal was the hot dog!
The hot dog was well prepared, split down the middle, grilled on both sides, and encased in a soft roll. The mustard and green relish were non-descript and grocery store quality. Overall,
the hot dog was nicely done and I was glad that I left the best for last.
In conclusion, the burgers were juicy, overcooked basic meat served on a nice roll with numerous choices of toppings.
They were superior to big box chain burgers, but they did not compare favorably to the area’s best made-to-order burgers.
Maybe another visit in a few months will improve my impression, but I am definitely not on the Westport Five Guys bandwagon. To me it was all sizzle and no beef.
Guy #3: Good Burger…Where's My Milkshake?
by Simon Dale, Ex-Chef
Based on comments from industry associates raving about Five Guys, I have been waiting eagerly for the Westport store to open.
I went on Tuesday (1.12) at lunch with high expectations, and was met with a long line and a manic atmosphere.
Having got over my initial feeling of displeasure at the lack of shakes (what kind of burger place can't offer a good chocolate malt?), my buddy and I ordered two bacon cheeseburgers, both with classic additions -- mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, mustard and pickle, plus regular fries. After a wait, which was bearable, but too long for comfort, our burgers and fries arrived and we managed to grab the only spare table in the big square noisy space.
With the first bite of my burger, my mood was immediately transformed.
My sources had been right --
this was truly a world class burger.
The bun had the perfect consistency -- acting as a delivery vehicle for the meat and cheese.
The condiments were in exactly the right proportion
. The cheese had just the right amount of "meltyness," without being cloying. And
as for the meat patties (yes two -- just like an In N Out burger) -- they were great.
I would be happier knowing the meat came from a grass fed, local cow, but what good are principles if you can't ignore them every now and then.
The fries were a little soggy for my taste, but that might have been first day trials.
Just to make sure I hadn't been wrong with my first impression of "Five Brothers" (as referred to by two different people!) I went back the following day to make sure -- this time taking my gang. We were greeted by the same line, and same noise. My wife and firstborn son nearly walked out upon discovering the lack of shakes. However -- all it took was one bite of our burgers for all ill humor to vanish.
It is clear that the lines will become more manageable, and the wait and noise will be less crazy.
There is no doubt I will be back -- but I think I will ration myself only to lunch or dinner on days that end in a "Y."
Guy #4: I Survived Five Guys Burger and Fries
By Joe Livecchi, Executive Producer , ITV Studios
Ray Croc would be jealous. Within a stone’s throw from his infamous arches,
a new hipper burger joint has recently opened
that seems to be resonating with Westport residents.
In the tradition of some of the most famous and successful franchises of the past 60 years,
Five Guys Burger and Fries is intentionally generic.
Everything is carefully designed to get you in and out as quickly as possible (though the guys might want to add a third and fourth cash register and extra staff on the weekends). If you didn’t get it by their name,
the guys make burgers and fries and not much else.
The menu is intentionally small but they do give you a
great selection of toppings so you can customize your burger
and feel like you’re ordering something special. The truth is you’re not.
The food is just a notch above most fast food restaurants (as is the pricing).
My double-cheeseburger with mushrooms and grilled onions did taste good and at $5.29
it seemed like a fair price.
The Cajun fries I stole from my friend’s plate were flavorful
and I felt better knowing they had been made in peanut oil. About an hour later, my meal sat in my stomach like a stone. I felt like I’d been duped.
If you’re wondering like I was where the guys get their burgers, the Five Guys website states that while their
meat is not organic and their cattle is not free range, their suppliers strictly follow USDA standards
. Hardly comforting, since the USDA condones the use of ammonia treated ground beef that makes it into 70% of the hamburgers served in the U.S.
the bottom line is if you’re in a hurry, traveling with kids or want some cheap comfort food than the Five Guys might be the place for you.
The inside is bright, the food comes relatively fast and while you wait there are peanuts to keep you happy and the floor is there to pick up your discarded shells. There’s also
bottomless cups of soda
to wash down your meal.
If on the other hand you’re looking for tasty fast food with real nutritional value then expect to pay about twice as much for what they’re serving down the street at
Guy #5: Five Guys, Car & Driver style
by Greg Boosin, Brand Manager, Mastercard
solid quality burger
good enough to eat with no toppings.
"Have it your way" free toppings
....but the 5 guys actually mean it. The dozens of permutations of topping combinations keep you thinking (and mouth watering) while waiting to order.
Special shout out for the bacon
which was good (= crispy and lean) enough to pick off and eat on its own.
Solid value. Fed 3 adults and 3 kids for $32!
Ugh, the wait.
Both times I went the line was out the door the entire time. Each time it was 20 minutes to order and 20 minutes to get the food....despite no fewer than 18 people working behind the counter shoulder to shoulder.
The kids (ages 4-7) didn't love it, and it's going to be a hard sell to get them to go back. But given the number of kids in the place, my kids look to be an anomoly.
If you have a peanut allergy stay away
. Peanuts and peanut oil are ubiquitous.
Five Guys fills a void for a good quality burger in Westport without going to
or driving to the
and it's definitely food I could find myself seriously craving, but not if it's going to planning ahead for a 40-minute wait.
One More Guy on Five Guys
by Michael Baltierra, Producer, ESPN
I know it’s a burger and fries joint but what stood out the most from my first trip to the new Westport “Five Guys” is the big pile of unshelled peanuts right by the door.
The nuts, which are part appetizer, part time-killer as you wait in line to place your order, are really the only memorable element I could find.
It’s not that the food was bad, the service poor, or the locale uncomfortable. On the contrary
they were all good. It’s just that it was all unremarkable.
As my eight year old son and dining companion Gabriel pointed out as we were leaving,
“It’s OK, dad...just OK.”
We ordered our burgers, fries and drinks without much fanfare. The service was friendly, which given that the place was packed and the lines stretched literally to the door was a plus. We had to wait more than I would have liked for our order but it did give us time to look around the place. It’s a clean, open space bathed in white and red.
The walls are covered in articles extolling the greatness of “Five Guys.”
But again, it was all very bland and functional. That lack of character seemed to influence the customers. Though the place was packed no one seemed to be having a good time.
Everyone was focused on the task at hand: order, eat and go.
After watching the “Five Guys” assembly line put together meals for about 15 minutes we finally got our order.
The portions were quite generous.
Neither Gabriel nor I could finish our burgers though they were tasty. The fries we did manage to finish. Again, good but not memorable.
After hearing so much about Five Guys (and reading even more on the walls of the restaurant)
maybe I was expecting too much.
Would I go back? Maybe. But I surely would not go out of my way. And I am definitely not rushing out to tell my friends about it.
I have had better burgers, better fries, and in better places. Five Guys was just OK.