Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Five Guys Burgers and Fries



2255 Michigan Ave.
Arnold, MO

This is one of those places that I’d heard of, but never actually tried. Part of the reason is that there are no convenient locations where I live or work. Long-time fans will recall our lousy luck with dining out in Arnold on a Saturday evening. Many of the places we’d targeted there were overflowing, requiring a backup plan.
Fortunately Five Guys was not too crowded. It was busy, nearly full as a matter of fact, but there was still room and no waiting the counter.
The Place:
Near the Game Stop on Michigan Ave. I say that as an inside joke. It may not be funny to you, but trust me, Adam and Angel are ROFL’ing right now. Anyway, it’s actually pretty close to the Super Wal-Mart and a lot of other big shopping venues, Game Stop included.
As I said it was busy but not overflowing. It was also bright inside, very bright, in stark contrast to the dreariness outside. It had rained some earlier and the worst was yet to come.
We entered and sauntered up to the counter. I’d been working on my sauntering so as to break away from my usual style of walking, which is more like promenading, moseying or
sidling. It’s a good look for me, much better than skulking.
  The motif was red and white checkerboard tiles, bright, shiny, operating room clean and sparkly. Blonde wood tables and chairs, along with the chain’s signature bags of potatoes piled up in the middle of the dining area. On the wall beside the counter was a marker board indicating that this day’s potatoes were from Silver K Farms in Rigby, Idaho.
It didn’t take long to decide what to order, primarily since the menu is what is known in the trade as ‘limited’. You want burgers, fries, maybe a hot dog? You’re in the right place. Salad? Chicken? Fish? Onion rings? Sorry, not here. They do offer a ‘veggie sandwich’ and a cheese veggie sandwich, and even grilled cheese, but I’m pretty sure no one, absolutely no one, has ever ordered those.
The Food:
One of the Guy’s claims is that they have no freezers, only coolers. Nothing, according to the claim is ever frozen. The fries are made on the spot from actual potatoes, fried in peanut oil. The burgers are made from fresh, non-frozen ground beef.
The menu offers four different burgers. Hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon burger and bacon cheeseburger. Each ‘regular’ burger has two good-sized patties. For the more delicate customer, they offer the same four burgers in single-patty versions known as ‘little’ burgers.
There are two kinds of fries, Five-Guys-Style and ‘Cajun’.
There’s a mile long list of toppings/condiments, that means there are, according to the web site, 250,000 burger combinations possible. I kept my order basic and simple, bacon cheeseburger with mustard, ketchup, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and pickles.
Angel , being more delicate, ordered the little burger with the usual stuff, adding mayonnaise for reasons that defy logic. Adam went for a full-size beast as well, topped only with stuff he likes which means no tomato or onions. We each tacked on fries, and a drink. We were handed cups and pointed toward the dispensers.
Angel handed the clerk her debit card as is the norm. What wasn’t normal was that it was rejected. Angel was miffed. I handed over mine in case it was just a fouled magnetic strip on hers, nope, rejected. This concerned her/us since she’d just recently had a problem with her business ATM card. It got hijacked and she’d had to work with the bank to cancel it and issue a new card, as well as sort out valid vs. invalid purchases. She was worried that the same fiends how now snatched our personal account. In the mean time she handed over a credit card which went through immediately.
The clerk informed us that our order was number fifty seven and would be called out shortly.
We filled our drinks and found a table. The tea was bland, thin, weak. I’m sure the sodas were just fine.
As we sat, Angel pulled out her smart-ass phone and started tapping and twisting it. In a couple of minutes she pronounced “Oh!” followed by "Oops!”. I assumed that her game was acting up, but no. She was banking.
It turns out that during the mess with the business card, she’d been ‘borrowing’, using the personal card, to make her dog-business related purchases and had neglected to transfer funds back once the account was up and running again. Then an amazing thing happened. Sitting there in this burger joint on a rainy Saturday evening, using just her fingertips and her smart-ass phone, she straightened the problem out, transferring funds from the business account back to the personal account, in minutes, maybe only seconds. We marveled at that, harking back of course to the good ol’ days where such a transaction would require a weekday visit to the bank, standing in line, and at least one long teller interaction. Ah, yes, the good ol’ days.
The problem was resolved even before our number came up. I used my dumb-ass phone to take a picture of my cup of tea. That’s pretty much the full extent of its super-powers. In the meantime, 70’s power ballads rocked us from overhead.
It wasn't really long at all before our number was called. I filled up a tub of ketchup for my fries, and had noticed that Five Guys offered free in-shell roasted peanuts in case you needed a snack before your burger arrived; I didn’t, but appreciated the courtesy.
Our order filled two bags. The foil-wrapped burgers were tagged with numbers indicating the order within the order. Mine was labeled #2 which was good, it meant that Adam and I didn’t need to eviscerate the sandwiches to tell one from another. The fries came in paper cups, overflowing into the bags. We set it all out and dug in.

The regular burgers were quite fat. I could barely wrap my dainty mouth around it. Angel’s seemed more practical. The fries were not chip-crispy, like Adam likes them, but they were definitely fresh and tasty. The meat was real meat, not some filler-filled/vacuum-molded substitute. Moist, tender, the condiments perfectly proportioned, the cheese, rich and gooey. I barely finished mine, I’ll probably order a ‘little’ one in the future.
Everyone finished and all agreed that these were quite good. Compared to Steak and Shake, a perennial family favorite, we cast our votes for Five Guys. The burgers were bigger, messier, fresher and the fries were thicker.
Summary:
Though pricier than Steak and Shake, thirty-five dollars to be exact, some of that was the fact that we ordered the ‘regular’ rather than the more size-comparable ‘little’ burgers. So we fed three for about ten dollars apiece. The quality though was a standout. Fresh, noticeably fresh, and you could order it with as many or few toppings/condiments as one could imagine. The staff was cheerful, one could say playful, as exemplified by one clerk yelling “No pictures!, no pictures!” as I took photos of the food.
The place sparkled as I said, though I would have been a little happier had the tables been wiped down between customers. They may have done so after we left, but I didn’t see it happening while we were there.
Overall we were quite pleased, impressed even. We’ll be back, that’s for sure, but the lack of convenient locations will likely keep us from visiting very often. A great burger, pretty good price, and bright, casual and friendly atmosphere.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Arnold) on Urbanspoon

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