Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Making a small pilgrimage out to West Vancouver to partake in this burger experience had been on my list of things to do for quite some time and when the opportunity finally presented itself my little group of friends and I snapped at the chance. Granted (and speaking in quite possibly the most irreverent fashion possible), crossing two bridges through Vancouver does not stack up against paying homage at Mecca, but one can draw obscure similarities. And at the end of the journey there was an enlightenment of sorts.
Located in Park Royal South, Five Guys Burger and Fries hearkens back to a simpler era of fast food, choosing to exempt their burgers from many of the frills and gimmicks you might find at other burger joints. With only about a dozen choices on the menu (even fewer if you disregard the “little” versions, but more about that later), Five Guys concentrates on delivering a product that attempts to make one reconsider the oft neglected and/or forgotten art of creating and eating the burger. I had heard much ado about this establishment, so I was rearing to see what they could offer up in the way of this type of fare.
Stepping through the doors of this location will put you right into the thick of ordering your food, so be sure to have at least a vague idea of what you’ll like to be noshing on upon arrival. Being slightly disoriented, I relied on my gluttonous nature to guide me through the ordering process. The individual taking orders was direct and friendly enough in a way that bespoke busier restaurant times. Going for the bacon cheeseburger with fries and a pop, I was then asked to choose which toppings I would like in my burger from a list of free condiments. Once my order was understood and payment was made, I was given a fountain drink cup and a numbered receipt to eagerly await my upcoming meal.
After topping off our cups (bottomless refills included) and seating ourselves at one of the tables, it seemed like only a few moments had passed before we were all called to receive our food.
I personally liked how each of my topping choices was displayed clearly on the receipt attached to my very own brown paper bag. Not only does this ensure that the kitchen prepares your order to exact specifications, but it also refreshes one’s memory of the impending flavour sensations that await. I chose mayonnaise, lettuce, mustard, grilled onions, grilled (sauteed?) mushrooms, jalapenos and hot sauce in my bacon cheeseburger. Mouth watering, I quickly opened the bag to see what all this Five Guys fuss was about.
This was the sight that greeted me after opening the bag. As you can see, Five Guys doesn’t skimp on what they serve. At the bottom of the bag to the left is a cup of fries that is filled to over flowing and if you look closely you can just make out the metallic sheen of a tinfoil wrapped burger glinting at its tasty secrets underneath. When ordering fries you are given a choice between regular and cajun flavourings. Deciding to try the cajun experience, my fries were tossed in a savoury and slightly smokey seasoning that coats the fingers in a thick and messy sort of way. One would not be amiss to bring wet naps with them for a post meal digit cleansing. The fries themselves are thick cut and fairly substantial in their own right. Starchy and tender under their deep fried exterior, these fries were more supple than crispy, but that made them all the easier to eat.
For comparisons sake, pictured above are the regular sized fries next to the large order. The cup, while still quite full in the photo, is by no means a proper representation of the quantity of fries one would typically receive here. There were still quite a few fries left in the bottom of my bag after extricating the cup. At this point, some of you more observant individuals might be wondering: “Peanuts? Where did those come from?”
Fortunately we had a Five Guys veteran in our midst who made us privy to the unlimited supply of roasted peanuts just waiting to be shelled and eaten. The peanuts are actually quite good and I found myself going back for more as they are crunchy, salty and exactly what a nice roasted peanut should be. Like a bunch of delinquents, we even ended up sticking around the restaurant and socializing for a time after finishing our meals, casually chatting while cracking into these little shelled morsels.
And finally we get to the reason behind this excursion! Almost as thick as it was wide, it was no small undertaking to scarf down this rather large burger. Sometimes I envy the snake’s ability to unhinge their jaws while eating their pray and this was no exception (I say sometimes, as I am usually the one that has finished their food before most have picked up their utensils!). All of the regular burgers come outfitted with two thick and meaty beef patties. If you do not fancy such a fleshy experience one could opt out by ordering the “little” version, which has a singular (and lonely) patty. The beef, cooked well done, was still quite juicy and even managed to be tender in its state of preparedness. Even though the still melting processed cheese helped to keep everything together, one would be hard pressed not to make a mess while bare handing this formidable beast. While some of the condiments were lost in the mix, namely the mayonnaise and mustard, the grilled onions still had a hint of sweetness from caramelization. The hot sauce provided was Franks Red Hot Sauce, which came as a bit of a disappointment, but it did add a bit of heat to counter my slight chagrin. And much to my delight, the jalapeno peppers were raw and cut in a chunky manner, providing a fresh and crunchy taste and texture, in concert with the lettuce, that really got the saliva flowing and the taste buds tingling (just a note of forewarning, I didn’t find the jalapenos to be all that spicy, but some of my eating colleagues begged to differ). The bacon was roughly chopped and positioned throughout the burger so as to avoid any unnecessary chewing or any eating faux pas, not that anyone would or should care as this is a food best eaten in a relatively sloppy manner. And to enshrine all of the above mentioned, the almost, but not quite soggy bun was just large enough to encompass it all while providing a slightly toasted, sesame seeded finger hold. The bun would probably not fare very well being consumed away from the restaurant.
One of us ordered the little cheese burger and as you can see it is still a sizable portion in and of itself.
To me, the notion of the burger has become a bit lost in the public eye. Sure many can probably recall a really great burger experience, perhaps a homemade feast at a barbecue or another particularly satisfying affair, but I would hazard to infer that, more often than not, the burger is just a meal that people settle for now. A frivolity that satiates hunger only to be quickly forgotten. I have phrased it in such a manner so as to accentuate a point, which therein lies my previously mentioned small enlightenment. Collectively, my gaggle of friends and I traveled a relatively long distance in search of a great burger experience, the gravity of which did not occur to me until after we had finished our excursion. Slogging it through afternoon traffic, crammed into the tight quarters of a vehicle, only relying on the enjoyment each others company for a simple and singular goal: to indulge in a couple of meat patties between a bun. It’s more than a little silly to think about, but we still did it and at the very least I can speak for myself when I say I enjoyed every moment of it. Eating is (and should be) an experience, which is only heightened by the things that occur around the food. If you are a fan of the “idea” of the burger then I would definitely recommend that you consider making this trip, at least once, to partake in what Five Guys has to offer. Even if you never return, you won’t regret it.
Five Guys Burger and Fries
150-2002 Park Royal South
West Vancouver, B.C.