This was the chosen location for my blind date with fellow food blogger, “Miss Vancouver Piggy”, though she does not really consider herself one. (Prove her wrong by checking out her blog at missvancouverpiggy.blogspot.ca). We decided to meet and review a restaurant together after connecting and sharing food related interests over social media. She had the pressure of choosing the place and I got to go along for the ride.
All I knew about this fast food burger joint was that it was new and American. It’s reviews have been decent and others have deemed their burgers the juiciest or the best around. This was enough to have my interests peaked.
Although troublesome, having to wait in a line that extended out the door was promising. When I finally got through the glass threshold, the aroma of ground beef smacked me across the face; the sounds of sizzling meat poured into my ears; and the thought of a juicy beef patty filled my belly with empty promises.
The red on white colour scheme gave the restaurant a diner feel with a splash of hospital chic. It seemed sterile. White walls and while tiles, checkered in red. All to the backdrop of upbeat rock music. The volume was cranked enough to drown out the noise from the open kitchen and the conversations of the dining guests.
The entire restaurant was wall to wall posters. Subconscious brainwashing as you are bombarded with reminders of how good there food is. I feel majority of those who dine in, catch themselves reading and eating simultaneously. Associating each bite with the words “Burger heaven” and “Multilevel meat and cheese monstrosity”. Each good review poster board was blown up to a size that could be read from any seat. With this and the pictures of the magazines and articles in which they were featured, it all seemed too much. It felt loud and boisterous, and seemed desperate in the need to prove something. How good could they be if you needed this much visual stimuli to be convinced? Though as my fellow food blogger pointed out, every piece of media was dated after 2009. There was really nothing recent and therefore none of this pertained to this particular location. A location that only opened its doors a few months ago. You had to wonder, how do they stack up in 2013?
On two separate columns there were cork boards with fan art pined to it. A pad off paper and a collection of crayons allowed anyone to draw and post their art on the spot. However by the looks of things, only the talented need apply. The theme seemed to be why you love “five guys”. More ads to get you on to the bandwagon.
You were able to tell who has been here before. Regulars knew to line up at the front by the cash desk to order, and to pick up their greased soaked brown paper bags by the side pass. The customers varied; but like the staff, nose looked to be predominantly on the more youthful side.
When having to wait in line twice, you grow hungrier and hungrier. So to alleviate this immediate need to eat, peanuts are provided as a complimentary snack. Use it as a side to your burger or as a fun way to pass the time and stay away hunger, for free. It was boxes set up with a self serve scoop and disposable containers on the side. You took what you wanted as a combo or appetizer. Something unique that I have not seen else where.
I don’t know what I unexpected but the menu seemed thinned out. I contemplated trying their hot dog or one of their sandwiches, but “Miss Vancouver Piggy” persuaded against it. To her point, why would I get something they are not known for. So that narrowed down my selection to their only other choice: burgers. The dollar difference between each line was for the addition of cheese, bacon, and cheese & bacon to a hamburger. $1 more to have cheese or bacon in your burger, and it wasn’t even real cheese. It looked like they had 8 varieties but it was the same 4 burgers done in the same combination of bacon and cheeses, with either one all natural beef patty or two. The regulars had two and the minis, one. Very American to think a single beef patty constituted as a mini burger. Where normally the two patty burger would be deemed a jumbo. I had to go for the full experience and get a regular “bacon cheese burger” with two patties and “Miss Vancouver Piggy” got the same, but in a single patty mini burger. Your options for toppings come in a list of 15, none of these were at an additional cost. Those highlighted in black were included if you wanted “everything” or for your burger to go “all the way”. Mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomato, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, mustard, and ketchup. The toppings in red could be chosen a la carte: relish, onion, jalapeño peppers, green peppers, A1 steak sauce, barbecue sauce, and hot sauce.
I asked for a combo, but was informed that fries and a fountain drink came separately. This is one of the few burger place that didn’t have a combo to get you to upgrade and but more. I got the regular “five guys style” fries and “Miss Vancouver Piggy” got the only other option, “Cajun style” fries. We both choose the smallest size, not being fans of fries, but wanting to review on the whole eating experience. The small ended up being more fries than the cup they came in could carry. The cashier gave me my drinking cup, to be filled at one of the two soda machines in the back. Your standard fast food operating system.
Unpacking the spilt disposable cup of fries and tinfoil clad burger from the grease smeared brown paper bag was a challenge. We ended up ripping it open to be used as a place mat and serving tray for our food.
The fries, although house made were nothing special. Soggy and plentiful. However they sold enough to warrant large bags of them on pallets by the door and in the middle of the foyer. This was definitely a good way to maximize space. The Cajun spices made no difference to each fry and seemed like an after thought in taste. We had a bag full of fries remaining when we had finished our speedy meal.
The covers to our burgers were oily with a thin film. It sort of defeated the purpose of trying to hold and eat it by the wrapper. We went in with our bare hands, this was definitely a two handed affair. The burger was flatten, it didn’t help that I watched the staff making a practice of patting the buns down when wrapping was completed. Both our hamburger buns were cold to the touch. The menu did mention going “bunless”. Which if it wasn’t for ease of holding all the ingredients, I may have taken them up on. Especially considering the bun was in such a rough shape, even before I took a bite. We agreed that the double patty was need to actually taste the beef. They were cooked well done and flattened to a pancake in the process. So two squished ones looked like one regular party.
Overall just another messy burger in my opinion. The staff were in the know enough to hand us a tiny stacks of napkins. This was needed as juices dripped through your fingers and ingredients went free falling from your grasp. The one patty mini burger made no monumental difference. It was same burger with the same toppings. The acting of being this messy in a public setting, and being forced to eat like a savage dampened my experience. Dining out is not only about the sense of taste, it is about all 5 senses. And right now my sense of touch was not loving it. I recommend wet wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer for each table.
Service is minimal. You order, they cook, you pick up, then eat at any table of your closing. Without trays and conveniently positioned trash cans, busing your own table after is a headache. I had to go in batches, and things still fell from the ripped up bag I was trying to salvage as a receptacle for lose food and dirty napkins.
Would I come back? – Truth is, as disappointed as I was in this over hyped burger, I was forced to come back an hour later, when my partner asked me to bring him home something to eat and everything convenient and good had long closed at 9pm. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, I liked the food and ate every bite. It just didn’t live up to the expectations set before it. Especially the ones exaggerated by the quotes around the restaurant. I would have it again as it is still a lot better than most chains.
Would I recommend it? – I wouldn’t need too. There always seems to be an infatuation between Canadians and all things strictly American. We travel hours to buy groceries or shop at a specific boutique. So when the likes of “Five Guys” and other fast food chains pop up from the States we get enamoured and caught up in the whimsy of, “it’s finally in Cananda”. None the less don’t deny your cravings when wanting your burger with no fillers and no preservatives. Not many places can boast this.