As a rule, I generally don’t review chains. This is primarily because I prefer to promote the little guys who don’t have the huge ad budget and give more attention to independent restaurants. Additionally, it’s because when you’re dealing with chains, you can only review the particular location you frequent. Case in point – one of our local chains, Las Margaritas. I’ve always had great meals at the one on Henderson, but nothing but bad luck at the one on Frantz. And I’ve never had a good meal at Applebee’s or Ruby Tuesday. But it wouldn’t be fair for me to disparage a whole chain based on my experience at one or two or a half dozen. So, with that being said, let me just say that what I’m saying applies to the location in Columbus, Ohio only. Your mileage may vary at your Five Guys in New Jersey or Maryland or Virginia or wherever.
Ever since they opened about a month ago, I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about Five Guys. About half the people I’ve talked to said that it sucked, they were completely overrated, and that they were never going back. The other half said it was the best burger they’ve ever had. So how can one person have an almost religious experience with a burger, and another rather chew off their own arm rather than eat there again? I determined it was my duty to go find out for myself.
We walked in there not knowing what to expect. It certainly wasn’t the cafeteria/mall food court scene we got. I’m no stranger to the whole “order at the counter, we’ll call you when your food is ready” type of dining, but the feeling I got was of a place that was pretty much stripped of any personality at all. Seriously. Sterile white walls, the line snaking labyrinth-style through bags of potatoes and peanuts, inching closer and closer until you get to the front of the queue before you’re directed to the next open cashier the way you would be in a bank lobby. The cashiers/order takers were clearly reading from a script, in a distinct monotone that belied their boredom. They seemed almost exasperated if you asked a question. My question about what kind of cheese they had was met with a snappish “no choice. Just American”. So we ordered and paid, no problem, right?
I got back to the table, and sat down and looked at the receipt. They had charged us for an order of large fries (which serves 4) vs. an order of regular (which serves 2). I distinctly heard my husband order the regular size, so I went back up to the cashier to fix the problem. She sort of shrugged it off and got her manager. By the time I had fixed the problem (by them refunding the difference, and putting in a separate order for the regular size), someone had cleared my still empty beverage cup, napkins, and ketchup cups off the table I was sitting at. Grrr.
So our order comes up, and we go up to the counter to get it. I had already been aware that they don’t cook their burgers to order, that they’ll only serve them well done (I’m more of a medium rare girl myself), but I was assured that their well done was still juicy.
Greasy might be a better word for it. My burger was a hot mess. I ordered it with cheese, sauteed onions and mayo, A1 on the side, and when I opened it up, in the matter of the few seconds it had taken me to get it, the grease had totally saturated the bun, making it totally unstable for holding up to the burger. But I soldiered on, praying that I’d be able to make it through eating it without wearing it. The taste was fine, though. Just not my ideal burger.
My husband’s burger fared a little better. He got his with cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, mustard, ketchup and pickles. The veggies acted as a barrier to the grease in his case, so his was a bit better. Still more well done than we prefer, but acceptable.
At least the fries were good. After we dealt with the fry fiasco, we found out that a regular size is indeed a perfect amount of fries for 2 people, as the cup that the order is in overflows significantly into the bag.
We felt rushed, the atmosphere was awkward because it always felt like there was someone hovering over us waiting to bus our table (even though we are self-bussers for the most part). It just wasn’t my thing. Totally didn’t live up to the hype for me, and I don’t see myself returning. Especially not when I can think of at least a dozen burger places in town (non-chain) that will not only cook a burger to order, but actually allow you different topping/cheese choices and service without the snarl.
Again, your mileage may vary. It’s one of those places you either love or hate. Place our checkmark fully in the “hated it” column.
If you’d like to go: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 2134 Polaris Parkway, Columbus. 614.436.5550