On Thursday 26 February I was lucky enough to be invited by KMI Brands to the launch of a new cosmetic and wash bag range alongside that of a new perfume and aftershave at the Sanctum Soho Hotel. What promised to be a night of high end perfume and designer bags meant that I spent most of the day pondering (read worrying) about what to wear, and forgot to eat.
By the time I had arrived at Oxford Circus to meet BeautyqueenUK I was so hungry I was considering nibbling on my own arm to keep me going. Instead, in a case of monkey see monkey want, I clocked the Five Guys Burger & Fries joint on Argyll Street and dragged the missus in to try it out.
I had seen mixed reviews of Five Guys through various forms of social media - the burgers always looked stunning and resulted in me craving one, but the main complaint from visitors was that £8 for a burger was a touch too expensive. I disagree after my visit and if you bear with this post, I’ll tell you for why (a nice Gavin & Stacey reference for St David’s Day).
We wandered into the brightly lit red and white restaurant at about 5.45 p.m. and approached the serving counter. As soon as you walk in, thanks to the open cooking area packed with people all tasked with their part of making the dream work you can instantly smells the cooking patties. By the time I had walked the twenty yards to the counter I was drooling, my stomach was crying out and to be honest I could have ordered everything on the menu.
You order at the counter, are given a number and then wander round and wait to be called. When ordering you pay for the type of burger or hot dog that you want and then get to choose from a range of free toppings to add. I opted for the £8 cheeseburger with lettuce, pickles, grilled onions, ketchup, mustard and relish, whereas the missus opted for a small cheeseburger burger with grilled onions.
Considering that by now people stood next to me could hear my stomach churning I also decided on a portion of Cajun fries for £2.75.
You can see the full menu on the Five Guys website here.
The five minutes we waited for the burgers seemed to take an eternity, but while waiting I was intrigued to watch what appeared to be a well oiled machine pump out burger after burger to equally ravenous customers.
Grabbing the bag and making a beeline for the nearest table I have to say that I was really impressed as I opened the bag. The burgers, wrapped in tin foil were larger than I had expected. When I think of gourmet burgers from places like Byron, Dirty Burger and Honest Burger (their burgers cost around the same) the offering from Five Guys was larger - cue a big drooling grin (not a pretty sight). The fries came in a cup but they had clearly thrown a load on top and considering it was a regular portion there were enough for both of us to munch away on after the burgers had been devoured.
So, my cheeseburger - heaven wrapped in tin foil as it shall now be known is shown below along with a few pictures of me motoring my way through it. Oh dear god, just thinking back to eating it now makes me want another. This is like burger crack they are so addictive.
The patties used in my large cheeseburger were hand-made and Five Guys pride themselves on the fact that everything is fresh and that their restaurants don’t have freezers. You could tell and I was greeted by a rich, meaty patty, full of flavour and no signs of dreaded grease. Even though there was no signs of grease the patty remained moist and juicy. I can hand on heart say I’ve not had a more flavoursome patty, ever.
Every topping had a distinctive taste - the grilled onions were plentiful and juicy, the pickles added a nice sharpness and the relish bonded it all together.
I think I may have found the perfect combination of toppings and bite after bite was a taste sensation. We actually waited for it to be cooked longer than it took me to demolish it. It was gone in sixty seconds. As I worked my way through it the missus literally just sat there in stunned silence.
Like everything in life perfection is rare, and while the blend of spices on the fries makes them tasty with a nice warm after burn there is just a bit too much for my liking. Between us we couldn’t finish off a regular portion. About thirty minutes later and boom, the fries started to repeat on me and at the event I had to keep popping outside to burp!
When we arrived at Five Guys we didn’t have to wait long but as we were eating the queue grew, and grew and then grew some more to the point that it was nearly to the door. I would probably be miffed having to wait for the burger but it is testament to the following that Five Guys is building in the UK.
To summarise, the best burger I’ve had in years and I can’t wait for an excuse to wander up into central London again. This knocks the spots off Byron, Honest Burger and Dirty Burger. Sorry guys, Five Guys is the best.
FORGET THE REST, TRY THE BEST
What is your favourite burger experience?
To find your nearest Five Guys click here.
To read more about the launch of the limited edition Sanctum Soho fragrances (the male aftershave is out of this world) you can do by clicking here.
You can see and buy the stunning Dan Gold designed wash/clutch bags for him and her here.