Review: Five Guys Burgers, Covent Garden, London

Review: Five Guys Burgers, Covent Garden, London

Friday nights in Covent Garden are often categorised by two things; how long the line is into a restaurant, or how irrelevant the costume is of the flyer-er employed by it. Generally, the more redundant the costume, the better the deal. The same can be said for the lines; the longer they are, the more you want to join the them. Rarely will you see people flyer-ing to people already in the line for their place, but that’s exactly what I encountered last Friday night – and he was without a costume, if you can believe that!

We’d made arrangements to meet with Pali over at Five Guys at 6pm, and when we’d blown in like drowned rats shortly after, there was already a lengthy line out the door; inside at the counter the line was longer still. that’s when I saw the flyer monger, mongering his flyers to those already lining up for the place. Sranger still, the people in the line were grabbing for them like they’d never been flyer-ed before. This had me curious!

Breezing past the giggling couple at the head of the line, we spoke to the chief flyer-er, announcing our arrival. While he ran off to find Pali, I helped myself to his stack; what I’d mistook for restaurant propaganda was actually just a copy of the menu. It was… short. All the research (all five minutes of it) I’d put into this place led me to believe there were over 250,000 kinds of burger options and over 100 drinks choices! Impossible to include at length on a menu, yes, but this hand out merely described a handful of burger options, and not a lot else.

With my previously high hopes dashed, we were escorted by Pali into the heart of the restaurant; some secret underground burger lair, walls adorned with gratuitously positive reviews of the restaurant – both overseas and here at home. Words like “Yum!”, “Delicious!” and “Tasty!” shouted at me from the red and white walls, and I wondered if it was subliminal messaging at its finest, or something to be taken ironically – this décor was not that of a modest family restaurant, rather a bratty burger-bar heir shouting “LOOK HOW GOOD I AM, DAD!”.

When Pali explained the menu to us, it all became clear. From the staple menu we’d seen, you can ultimately customise your burger, however you like. Ketchup or BBQ, Chipotle or mayo, jalapeños or tomatoes – pick your burger, and build. So, with the endless combinations of options, I’m told their are over 250,000 ways to have your burger. Genius! With the option to add more patties to your burger too, Pali described for us the classic Man vs Food moment when some (stupid) person tried to eat a burger with seven patties and every possible extra on the menu. We did not question that person’s current health situation. Pali shrugged though, and starred off to the distance wistfully… enough said?

I’d chosen the bacon cheese burger with added BBQ sauce, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes, while my date for the night had gone for a bacon cheese with ketchup, grilled mushrooms and onions. Basic. We’d also opted for a portion of the regular fries as well as a portion of the cajun fries – and, a cupful (or two) of the complimentary peanuts that spill out of their confines on both levels of the restaurant. I’ll admit, they’re a fun way to kill time while you’re waiting for your burger; shelling those nuts is bloody therapeutic, but, must be careful not to overdo it on the peanut front – the short wait is totally worth it.

While we waited, we debated the drinks selection. We were told that the magic soda fountain contains over 100 drink options; here was me thinking it was one of those machines that lets you add your own flavours to create a specialised and totally original flavour (orange and red Fanta ftw!) – but no! it literally contains 102 different flavours of soda. I was told to try the peach Sprite, so that was the first of many a drink from that machine. Tasting exactly like peach iced tea (but bubbly!), it was refreshing and sweet, and definitely did not disappoint. With options like Strawberry Coke and Vanilla Fanta on display, we were torn about where to stop. Turns out though, once you go Grape Soda you never go back.

And then there were burgers. Delivered by the attentive Pali in brown paper bags reminiscent of any drive through order, ever, the mere smell had us salivating. Now, you know when you order a burger from a picture, and when your burger comes, it never looks anything like the picture? Not here, man. My burger was perfectly symmetrical. There was no overhang; the patty was the perfect size for the burger bun. The streaky bacon was cooked to a crisp; deliciously crunchy morsels were evident in every bit I took. The cheese was not too melted, but melted just enough to not run out all over the wrapping or drip down my hands. Let me be clear: these burgers are game changers.

Stuffed after a few measly mouthfuls, I powered on. The perfectly cooked and juicy patty was seasoned to a tee – the flavours of the BBQ sauce, cheese and bacon danced in my mouth, while the mayo and salads balanced the whole deal out. This burger, was the only burger I ever wanted in my mouth. It has shamed all burgers before it, and I doubt there will ever be another burger after it.

By Erica, of

Five Guys
| 1-3 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LH and also Islington, Reading, with Bluewater opening soon, Guilford opening February 2014 and Kingston opening March 2014