Introducing 'fast casual' - quick, simple, all American hamburgers

News Shopper: Five Guys launches in Bluewater Five Guys launches in Bluewater

To be America’s fastest growing burger chain is impressive, for obvious reasons. Now, as Five Guys breaks the UK, it’s begun by infiltrating the discernible South East – with all its ‘artisan’ vans and local meat sourcing.

After seeing its Covent Garden flagship fry its way to success, openings in the likes of Islington, Guildford, and now Bluewater have followed. The Dartford mall's arrived on April 14. 

It’s difficult to place Five Guys. What I see as ‘fast food’ is described as ‘fast casual’ by the company. Indeed, its burgers are made with fresh, grain-fed beef; fries are cooked in peanut oil; there are no freezers at all, everything is prepared each morning.

All that, when feeding a country nearly as ravenous for such cuisine as those in its native land, is notable – but of course would be rendered wholly pointless were it not to improve taste.

I don’t eat at obvious competitors Burger King, or McDonald’s, but it’s clear Five Guys offers a more sophisticated and cleaner premise. The likes of upmarket burger chains such as Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen meanwhile are playing a different game; so too are independent joints producing the ‘dirty’ hipster stuff.

It seems the brand can celebrate its separation from the pack then, resulting, evidently, in establishing a solid foundation to do as well here as across the pond.

At the launch earlier this month my dining partner and I visited Bluewater for the first time. Evading the overpriced chocolate eggs and getting distracted by a flavoured vodka stall (too sweet, low alcohol, disgusting), we were happy to find Five Guys.

We had two ‘little hamburgers’ – just one patty rather than two! – two ‘small fries’, one in Cajun seasoning, and a couple of beers, which were Brooklyn Lager, pleasingly.

Firstly, any burger allowing inordinate variations of toppings at no extra cost will peak my affections. I went for pretty much everything, too many to list – but pickles, hot sauce, grilled onions, and fried mushrooms featured.

The beef, cooked in the traditional American way, was ‘well-done and glistening’, yet retained some moisture in between its cushioning buns. And the chips were soft inside and nicely golden. I wasn’t bothered by our greed-fuelled hot dog, particularly. But then I’ve always preferred a proper English sausage completely destroyed on a BBQ in the rain.

Anyway, if Bluewater is anything to go by Five Guys will soon spread further. It’s generous, flexible, and isn’t as painful on the calorie count as you might expect.

Most important for me though is it does ‘fast casual’ very well – whatever that is. As far as I know 'fast casual' is Five Guys, which for me simply satisfies with an old-style American hamburger for under £5. There’s no risk, which is often not the case when trying something cooked by a bearded guy in a beanie.

Our bill, with two beers, two burgers, two fries, and a hot dog, was just over £26.00

Comments (1)

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10:53am Thu 24 Apr 14

Ihaveopinions says...

Five Guys at Bluewater is the worst out of all the Five Guys open in this country.

At Covent Garden (by far the best of the bunch) you get an immersive experience, the music played is Led Zeppelin and other classic rock music whereas at Bluewater I was greeted with Ke$ha... Not the same!

Then you have the placement of the truely awesome drinks machines (over 150 variations), Covent Garden have several scattered around the resturant in open spaces allowing you the spae and time to make the choice, Bluewater on the other hand, has BOTH of its machines next to eachother in a very narrow corridor next to where you wait to collect your order. The que is confusing and irritating to say the least.

Finally, at every other Five Guys outlets you are presented with piles of "monkey nuts" to gorge on while you wait and decide how you will have your burger and if you dare to order their "large" fries. Bluewater must have forgotten to order these as they wern't present on either of my two visits there (opening night 14/4/14 and 21/4/14).

Much improvement is needed at Bluewater. I will continue to travel up to London for my Five Guys dispite Bluewater onl being 10 minutes from my house.
Five Guys at Bluewater is the worst out of all the Five Guys open in this country. At Covent Garden (by far the best of the bunch) you get an immersive experience, the music played is Led Zeppelin and other classic rock music whereas at Bluewater I was greeted with Ke$ha... Not the same! Then you have the placement of the truely awesome drinks machines (over 150 variations), Covent Garden have several scattered around the resturant in open spaces allowing you the spae and time to make the choice, Bluewater on the other hand, has BOTH of its machines next to eachother in a very narrow corridor next to where you wait to collect your order. The que is confusing and irritating to say the least. Finally, at every other Five Guys outlets you are presented with piles of "monkey nuts" to gorge on while you wait and decide how you will have your burger and if you dare to order their "large" fries. Bluewater must have forgotten to order these as they wern't present on either of my two visits there (opening night 14/4/14 and 21/4/14). Much improvement is needed at Bluewater. I will continue to travel up to London for my Five Guys dispite Bluewater onl being 10 minutes from my house. Ihaveopinions
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