Five Guys Burgers and Fries
In a word: It's about to get sloppy.
The specs: #0350
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; announcement at WiSJ; reviews of State St. Madison location by ABMann on Flickr and alter ego angrybunnyman, at Isthmus, the Culinary Adventures of Jahboh and Tossy, Yelp, Madison Hot Bite, Ruppert Food Blog, Cap Times, QSC; official WI franchiser and Five Guys web site,
Latest Five Guys Burgers and Fries news and reviews at del.icio.us
We all ate burgers and great gobs of fries (plus one hot dog and one grilled cheese sandwich).
The bill was ??? - thanks, everyone.
James gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries an A;
Bridget and JM gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries an A-;
John Sams, Nichole, and Colleen gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a B+;
Molly, Carla, Steve, Beth P. and Zach gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a B;
Sush and Tom gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a B-;
Marsha gave Five Guys Burgers and Fries a C (see our grading rubric).
JM only changes his age once a year and we frequently use it as an excuse to invite as many guests as possible. We wish we could bring so many guest reviewers as often as this. Five Guys gave us a bitter irony of food blogging: bring the biggest crowd to the smallest menu. As any math-minded reader will note, the grades we gave Five Guys describe a near-perfect bell.
We didn't count, and we don't know the provenance of the name, but maybe there were five guys running this show. John Sams (bacon cheeseburger with fried onions and mushrooms) and Molly (little burger and fries) spoke for the group when they commended the very nice and personable staff, who were amazingly efficient considering a sudden onslaught of 14 people.
Let's start with the non-burger sandwiches, since Five Guys burgers get enough internet time thanks to their cultish following. First, the hot dog. Sush said it was 'k, but maybe a little overcooked. It was cut in half lengthwise, the better to cover the bun with. She sensed the burger people were more satisfied.
How could Nichole ever have worried that one grilled cheese would leave her hungry? Hefting the bag with the super-heavy sandwich, her fears were allayed. Though the order-taking guy said the grilled cheese came with two pieces of Kraft American cheese (hey, in Madison, that's technically local... right?), close observation revealed that it was made with an inside-out burger bun, three pieces of cheese and two scoops of mushrooms, all smooshed down on the grill. Loaded with grill grease, there's no way you could be hungry after finishing one of these. While not a guilty pleasure she'd personally return to often, she can see the appeal of a goopy, melty lunch like this.
The phrase "good but not great" was used - without commiseration - by two different eaters; Marsha (little bacon cheeseburger grilled onion) put it like this: "OK but nothing to brag about much." She found the burger to be a little on the skinny and dry side. JM (bacon cheeseburger BBQ and onion) found the meat to be roughly cafeteria grade.
James (a self-described burger fan: little cheeseburger with onion, lettuce, pickle, tomato, ketchup, mustard) found his burger to be just the right size for lunch, though it suffered from a bit too much lettuce. Carla (little cheeseburger) thought hers tasted better than a fast food burger, more like home on the grill. Colleen (little hamburger, mushrooms), Beth P. (little hamburger, mushrooms) and Nichole were disappointed in the use of canned mushrooms.
Colleen also said that next time she'd take advantage of more fixin's, maybe after seeing how much Bridget (little hamburger, mayo, relish, onion, lettuce, pickle, tomato, mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, jalapenos) enjoyed her loaded burger. Yet Bridget and Sush were able to think of one more topping Five Guys lacks: pineapple. There's just no pleasing some people.
The fries were the star of the show. After his first bite, JM said these fries are possibly the most "potato" of any fry he's ever had. Potatoes that rise like Olympus through the fog of the fry medium.
The styrofoam cups that the fries
are served in overflow out of are ingenious for keeping the readily-available malt vinegar in check. Steve (bacon cheeseburger) and Beth P. both noted that the fries were best when hot and waned quickly, which of course is only a problem because you get twice the amount you think you'll get.
Zach (little bacon cheeseburger) thought the standard fries could use more seasoning; Sush, having tried the Cajun version, thought those were just OK. They came tossed with a standard McCormick's-type seasoning mix, and got better the closer she got to the bottom of the cup.
John Sams called the inside of Five Guys "charming" and liked its quaint appeal and nice, simple setup. Tom, on the other hand, thought Five Guys works too hard to look retro, like the old George Webb decor package. More than one (but by no means all) of our companions thought their meals were a little expensive for a burger and fries.
Marsha noticed that the dining area was fairly noisy, though that could have been our large group's fault. Finally, James wasn't alone in appreciating the free, unsalted peanuts in the shells that were available from big boxes in the dining area and on your way out the door, just in case you didn't get enough fries and burgers.
JM, who enjoyed another birthday lunch with his friends, felt that the fare was as he expected: a standard, if mass produced, gob of food that tastes good and left most everybody full and happy for the afternoon to come.