Tag: burgers

Famously good burgers

Monday, January 14th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

J had tickets to Carnegie Hall tonight, so we decided to meet for a quick dinner nearby before the concert. But where? We were about to fall back on our usual pre-Carnegie Hall standby — the Burger Joint inside Le Parker Meridien hotel — until we recalled that another burger joint had opened in the neighborhood recently.

The extraordinarily well-loved, family-owned Virginia-based chain of Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries arrived in New York City last year — the East Coast’s answer to In-N-Out — opening branches in College Point and Brooklyn Heights. In early November, the first Manhattan outlet opened on 55th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues; the company plans to open 29(!) more in the borough over the next eight years. (That’s a lot, but nowhere near Starbucks’ level of ubiquity. But I digress…) By their second day of business, midtown lunch crowds had pushed waits for burgers and fries to an hour and half. Oh, what New Yorkers will endure for a good burger! Or good pizza!

At just past 7PM on a Monday, though, it is a decidedly less chaotic scene.

Five Guys counter

J had visited the Queens location before — they have a MySpace page! — but this was my first time sampling the famous burgers. Each one is made to order, and Five Guys provides all the shelled peanuts you can eat to tide you over while you’re waiting for your order number to be called.

Five Guys peanuts

The corporate policy is to cook all beef patties to well done — eek! — in spite of which the burgers do retain a surprising level of juiciness. Usual toppings include lettuce, tomato, pickles, fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup, mustard and mayo; other less standard fixins include relish, jalapeño peppers, and green peppers, and all are included in the price. I ordered what’s listed on the menu as the “little hamburger,” which didn’t seem so “little” to me; roughly the same size as the ones at nearby Burger Joint, and at $2.00 less, a much better value. (The standard Five Guys burger comes with two 3.3 ounce patties, stacked one atop the other.) Five Guys fries are hand-cut, skin-on affairs. $4.50 for a large order (plain or cajun) seemed disproportionately expensive — a quarter more than my burger was, even — but are very generously proportioned; we essentially received double what we expected: inside our grease-stained brown paper bag was a tall styrofoam cup brimming full of fries, with roughly the same amount thrown in loose over our foil-wrapped burgers. Easily more fries than we could finish in a single sitting — and I love fries. Nice touch: bottles of malt vinegar on the tables. Goofy touch: announcing the provenance of the potatoes on a whiteboard by the registers. (“Today’s potatoes are from Ririe, Idaho.”)

Five Guys burger

Peter Meehan of The New York Times had good things to say about those fries in his assessment of the Brooklyn branch (“Generously portioned… with an honest potato flavor”), but was less impressed with the burgers themselves, declaring them “not particularly salty or griddle-charred or beefy.” New York magazine was more effusive in its praise, recently naming Five Guys among the city’s best burgers; theirs was just one more article mounted along a long wall lined with glowing write-ups.

Non-press folks love them, too.

Five Guys testimonials

Tags: , , ,

There are 4 comments

Where there’s smoke…

Sunday, October 28th, 2007 | All Things, Friends

On the way out to Sunnyside Gardens this evening, I noticed these new LED displays on the 7 train. The purple circle and diamond symbols were never very effective in distinguishing between train routes; certainly these new signs are a vast (and long overdue) improvement over the old system of popping your head into a subway car ­– careful to avoid the guillotine action of the closing doors — and yelling “Express or Local?” only to be met with stony stares or indecipherable grumbles. “Lxprzl”?

7 signage

Out on RM’s patio, SYB and I were tasked with starting a fire for the barbecue. Even armed with a box full of matches, the autumn winds posed quite a challenge. It’s situations like these when I think that Girl Scouts training would have been far more useful than piano and violin lessons. We finally managed to get things going after several false starts; the orange flames (and copious wine) provided wonderful warmth against the chilly falling darkness.

Our gracious host brought out a tray of chicken burgers from The Butcher Block, a popular local Irish delicatessen which in 2004 reopened in a new location after its original long-held spot across the street was virtually destroyed the year before in a major fire along Queens Boulevard. I’ll admit that I’m generally not a huge fan of chicken burgers — beef being my usual patty preference — but these were quite good: more like chicken sausage patties. We rounded out the eats with grilled steak and (not grilled) couscous, and over our new friend TD‘s Astoria cherry pie, the talk turned to matters like the rivalries among NYC specialized high schools. Riveting for the non-NYC natives, I’m sure, but when it came out that there were two Science alums in the house, what could we do? As we watched the Sunnyside kindling-fed fires slowly die down to embers in the cold moonlight, I wished I had thought to bring supplies for s’mores — pretty much the only situation in which I prefer Hershey’s milk chocolate bars. Next time.

I had no idea how insidiously the soot had permeated my pores and clothing until on the way home when I was caught in one of those dreaded “sick passenger” delays at Times Square. As more commuters piled into the already crowded subway car, the woman behind me, whose nose was probably no more than three inches from my hair, asked her friend in an alarmed tone, “Do you smell smoke?” I cringed inwardly as I heard the two of them sniffing the air behind my head frantically for the next few seconds, until one muttered a revelatory “Oh.” I sensed, rather than saw, her gesture toward smokey me in disgust.

Tags: , , , ,

There are 3 comments