Glasgow’s meat district, formerly known as St. Vincent Street is attracting all of the big burger/dirty american food chains these days – and there’s even more set to move in next year, if you didn’t already know.
I have to agree with Chris there. Usually, I’d be all about voting yes but I’m pinning on my ‘No Thanks’ badge when it comes to a further invasion of burger chains in Glasgow. We’ve got our Five Guys now, there’s no need to have five branches. We’ve got a Gourmet Burger Kitchen, who at least gave us all a good laugh with their hilariously awful attempt at a Glaswegian menu. We’ve also got a new Handmade Burger Co in the city centre too, who apparantly were so eager to start serving plates of meat to the public that the outside of the building still read ‘Paperinos‘ the last time I walked past.
I’ve been on a bit of a break from burgers since late September. The standard of burgers in Glasgow has reached such an extraordinary high level that I was left feeling like I was writing the same review over and over again. “Brioche perfectly toasted“. “Patty cooked medium“. “Fries cost extra“. You pretty much know the rest.
The St. Vincent street takeover is now in full swing and it was time for our burger break to end. Since Five Guys was without a doubt the most anticipated new opening, we thought we’d start our next series of reviews with them.
It feels like the Five Guys Glasgow invasion had been rumoured for so long that back when word first spread, the idea of more burger joints in Glasgow was a new and welcome idea. As Five Guys have worked on their plans to move to Glasgow, lots of other business have seen dollar signs and quickly set up shop here too. But while burger saturation set in, Five Guys was somehow different than the rest of the new chains. It’s almost like an American legend – an exclusive club that you only get access to if you’re lucky enough to visit the east coast of the United States. Previously voted as America’s favourite fast food chain, the hype behind it’s Glasgow arrival was understandable.
In terms of taste, Five Guys Glasgow delivers everything that the American branches do. It tastes good. Very good. But where it falls short is on price and while it tastes very good, it doesn’t manage to top our much-loved greats that I mentioned above – the burgers that are already considered Glasgow’s best.
During my visit, the place was fairly busy but we were served within a few minutes. Overall, from when we arrived and joined the queue until we left, our whole visit lasted around 25 minutes. Not too shabby.
If you’ve visited any of the US branches, you’ll know what to expect here. Everything is white and red, there’s an awesome drinks machine and burgers are ordered and cooked quickly. It’s a fast food joint, not a restaurant. It’s not a place you’d go for a sit-down meal with friends and family – it’s a quick grab-and-go burger, much like McDonalds or Burger King – only it tastes much better, the ingredients are of a much higher quality and everything is cooked to order.
Once you place your order, you’re given a receipt with an order number. The guy at the collection point calls your number when your order is ready. It’s a bit like Argos, but with meat.
Since the place opened, I have received a few tweets and emails from people saying that the music was too loud and that the guy shouting the orders had to scream at the top of his voice so that people could hear. During our visit, the music was turned down pretty low – but the guy at the desk still screamed out the order numbers like his life depended on it. I was rather amused when he bellowed out “ORDER 447!!!!!!!!!” and then very chirpily told me to “have a wonderful day” as I approached the desk. I like that guy.
We went for the bacon cheeseburger and asked for it ‘all the way’, which just means ‘with everything on it’. We also added relish, which isn’t covered under ‘all the way’, so remember to ask for that too. We added a regular portion of cajun fries and a drink. It all came to £15.25, which also includes unlimited drink refills. Speaking of the drinks, the selection at Five Guys is INCREDIBLE. There’s over 200 different soft drinks to choose from at the machine and you can drink as much as you like. We went for Coke Zero vanilla, which I haven’t seen anywhere since my last trip to the US.
Your order comes in a brown paper bag, with the grease already starting to seep through. They don’t call it a dirty burger for nothing! Inside, you’ll find so many fries that you’ll wonder if you were given a large portion by mistake. We ended up splitting one portion of regular fries between two of us – and I just ate the ones that had fallen out and were still in the brown bag. There’s that many in there. Speaking of the cajun fries, they’re absolutely delicious. Everything is fried in peanut oil and they’re incredibly spicy too. In terms of fast food McChain places, you probably won’t find better fries.
The burgers come wrapped in tin foil and everything is melted together inside. It’s gloopy, sticky, messy and just like it is in the US.
As I mentioned before, I wouldn’t place Five Guys in the same league with the likes of MeatHammer, Bloc’s Mad Chef or El Perro Negro – those guys are Glasgow’s big guns and they have pretty much perfected the art of a good burger. But in terms of quick fast food, Five Guys is simply delicious. Everything was incredibly juicy, it was messy and the bacon was crisped to perfection – no stringy rubbish here. It tasted great. The onions and cheese together with the relish really added to the overall flavour. The patties were the thin fast food-style you’d expect and were cooked well-done.
If you’re visiting a branch, here’s my recommendation for the perfect Five Guys burger. When ordering, ask for ‘a bacon cheeseburger, all the way and with relish’. I’ve been to Five Guys a few times over the years and, in my opinion, this is the best way to do it.
Everything came housed in a seeded bun, which was practically glistening from being inside the foil wrapper. The bun was okay, but the burger was so messy that it started to break apart before long.
I love Glasgow’s local burger scene. We’ve got great independent restaurants here, which I’d always look to support over a chain. Admittedly I walked into Five Guys looking at it like one of the evil chains wanting to put the little guy out of business. But I couldn’t fault my burger – I loved it. It’s not the same as a gourmet offering from one of our great burger restaurants, but it was pretty damn good.
HOWEVER, this is where my issue with Five Guys rears its head. My problem is the price. Now, I don’t think that a burger should cost a couple of quid – even from a fast food chain. I wouldn’t recommend buying a 99p burger from a saver menu – because, well, god knows what you’re actually eating. But £15.25 for one burger, fries and a drink is expensive for fast food. I spent all of 25 minutes in Five Guys and went there as a quick stop off during Boxing Day shopping madness – it’s not a restaurant experience, but you’re going to pay restaurant prices. You could walk across the street to Bread Meats Bread and get a bacon cheeseburger, chips and a coke for £11. Likewise, Bloc’s ‘Durty Burger’ will cost you £8.95 and that includes fries. I appreciate that Five Guys offer unlimited drink refills, but I was so full after eating the food that another drink wasn’t possible at all.
When I last visited Five Guys in the US, I’m pretty sure I remember my burger costing around $8. Here it was £8.75.
In short, Five Guys is certainly delicious, there’s no denying that. It’s some of the best fast food you’ll ever taste and I’ll certainly visit again. The fries are great and the drinks machine has so much choice it’ll make your head spin. But what’s meant to be quick takeaway fast food isn’t reflected in the price. £15 is more than I spend on lunch at work in a week, never mind in one day. Five Guys is good for an occasional visit, but unless I only have a few minutes to spare for lunch or I’m in a great hurry, I’d rather spend less money for a better burger at any of the great, independent burger joints in Glasgow.
Tasty, high quality fast food, but very pricey.
Price: £15.25 (includes fries and unlimited drink refill)
+ Great flavour.
+ Good, high quality fast food.
+ Quick. Ideal if you want to order and go or don’t have a lot of time.
+ Delicious cajun fries.
+ That drinks machine though.
– Very pricey.
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