I love burgers. Deliciously juicy meat sandwiched between fresh, fluffy bread; there’s just something so simple but mouthwatering comforting about a good burger. I’ve tried a lot of burgers in my time, but when I heard American burger chain, Five Guys, was coming to Birmingham I was excited.
Located in the epicentre of the city’s shopping centre, The Bullring, Five Guys have taken over the old Del Villagio location and turning it into a traditional red-and-white checkered burger joint. All that white and bright lights feels a bit of a mix of clinical and greasy spoon, but it’s not the venue we’re here for, it’s the burgers and it feels like that’s what the decor is getting at. And if you don’t get it straight away, all the glowing reviews and soundbites on the wall will spell it out for you.
Anyway, the food. The menu is pretty simple; burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and fries. There are a few variations, but the main thing is the toppings of which there are many, 15 to be precise. I opted for a regular burger with BBQ sauce, lettuce and mushrooms; regular fries; and a soft drink, which came to £13.25. Once ordering you walk round the counter and wait for your food. Or rather visit the drinks machine whilst your food is being cooked.
I probably should’ve been marvelling at the Fordist-machine-line preparation of my food, but the drinks machine had me mesmerised. Said to have 100+ drinks options I can well believe it and I went for Diet Coke with vanilla and cherry, which was just delicious. If I ever win the lottery I want one of those installed in my house. Oh yes, and there’s free refills.
After a short wait watching the production line put together my food I wondered how well this works on a busy Saturday lunchtime, but more pressing was the guy on the fries counter who was portioning chips into drinks cups and then adding another portion and a half into the bags. If you thought £4 was steep for a regular fries, you’d be mistaken – it’s actually a pretty good deal considering what you get for your money.
After collecting my grease-spattered brown bag I took a pew and dived in. I’d heard stories that the fries were over-seasoned and I didn’t find this to be the case; I thought they were pretty good with or without sauce, but I think it’s probably personal preference – personally I like someone else to sort it out for me. The burger, wrapped in tin-foil didn’t look like the messiah of burgers I was expecting, but tasted pretty good. I was a little disappointed at the amount of BBQ sauce particularly as there wasn’t any sandwiched between the two patties (I didn’t realise a regular burger had two of them). But it certainly wasn’t the worst burger I’ve ever had; I’m just not sure it was the best either.
Overall the experience was fine – think the environment of fast-food queue & wait mixed with the quality of gourmet/handmade co/kitchen style burger restaurants. I wasn’t blown away by my experience, but I didn’t feel particularly short-changed either. I just expected something a little more wow. Five Guys is a welcome addition to the city and I’m sure I’ll be back, I just can’t see myself making a special trip to go.