Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Restaurant Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries****


In the foreground is the regular-sized burger and behind is the little cheeseburger.

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I never really realized it, but I do care where my potatoes are from. On the day that we dined at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, the spuds were from the Brown Farm in Rexburg, Idaho.

The chain that is new to the Toledo area offers this detail as an insight into its philosophy: Eliminate the superfluous and focus on top-quality American basics. Bags of potatoes are stacked high to form an aisle for the line of eager patrons waiting to order from the concise menu that features burgers, hot dogs, fries, and a few sandwiches; no desserts, no salads, no modern burger abominations.

The interior is equally streamlined, with white-and-red signs touting the chain's acclaim and the buzz of enthusiastic customers and cooks. Peanuts are available to munch while orders are prepared. It's a nice touch, although we never waited more than three minutes for our food.

The burgers, cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, and bacon cheeseburgers essentially come in two sizes, little and big. For the uninitiated, that would be big and massive. These burgers aren't small, and the addition of up to 15 optional toppings can make them downright gigantic. (The company's Web site lists the small burgers as 171 grams or 6 ounces; the large at 265 grams or 9.3 ounces.) Aside from the traditional mayonnaise, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, relish, and onions, Five Guys also offers grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, green peppers, barbecue sauce, A-1 sauce, and hot sauce.

I opted for grilled onions and mushrooms along with mayonnaise, lettuce, and pickles. The juicy burger was nicely seasoned and delicious, but the downside of all of those toppings was that my bun turned quickly to mush. (I should mention that the meat is only available well done. That's a corporate decision to ensure consistency and quality.)

My partner ordered a cheeseburger with relish and onion. The relish was sweet, and the onion crisp. The smaller burger, although equally juicy and flavorful, didn't seem to get the bun so soggy.

We tried the Cajun-style fries and the regular fries. In keeping with the menu, the servings are huge. The regular fries were gloriously simple, fresh cut and fried in peanut oil. They were best when doused lightly with malt vinegar. I wasn't a fan of the Cajun seasoning which seemed to just mask the delicious fries with an unnecessarily spicy kick, but I get the impression there are those who are fanatics about the flavor.

The hot dogs and sandwiches don't get the same celebration that the burgers and fries do, but we found them equally impressive, like hidden stars. The all-beef hot dogs are split and grilled, giving them a smoky bite and meaty texture. I loved it even more when they were topped with grilled mushrooms and onions. And the grilled cheese was a nice, simple take, using two inverted buns and fresh American cheese.

The prices are a little higher than fast food but downright cheap in the world of gourmet burgers. They range from $3.29 for a little hamburger to $5.79 for a regular-sized bacon cheeseburger. The fries are $2.59 or $4.19 for a large order. And the hot dogs range from $3.19 to $4.19 with bacon and cheese.

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