Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Five Guys Hamburgers: Hackensack
Five Guys Hamburgers in Hackensack New Jersey. For those of you who think that burger chains are synonymous with "fast food" Five Guys is the anti-argument. Five Guys is a slow food franchise. Originally started in Washington DC by five guys taking over the family burger business, Five Guys cooks each burger to order, and only offers burgers, hot dogs, and french fried on the menu. And you have to wait. While you wait, you can munch on free peanuts, which focus your attention on the bags of potatoes lined up around the shop (to be fried in pure peanut oil.)This is the shape of the future, with cheese. Slow food franchises... probably inspired by the In-and-Out Burger chain out on the West Coast, which we New Yorkers have heard about but have yet to sample. Five Guys recently expanded into New York City itself, with an outlet opening in Manhatten (55th st. between 5th and 6th aves.) It was mobbed the first few days after it opened. We decided to hit the one in Hackensack.The fries... where do I begin. Actual potatoes, sliced with skin on them and fried. Piled into styrofoam cups to keep them hot, but when they pack your order into a brown paper bag they toss in about two extra orders of fries on top into the bag to keep everything well insulated and guarantee you won't leave hungry. The fries you see are hiding the real order beneath them in the bag. And they offer malt vinegar to sprinkle on your fries, fish and chips style. The Burger. At Five guys a burger is actually a double burger - two patties. A frigging full size normal burger, not some dwarf McD's meat pimple. If you want a single patty, you order a "small burger." Damn, these were good. My Dad passed on the burgers but managed to make all of the french fries miraculously disappear. Fumie chugged down her cheeseburger with all the attention she usually applies to raw fish. These burgers were a bit pricier than a usual fast food burger, but that is because they really aren't fast food burgers - small batches of quality meat are ground hourly, real spuds are used for the fries, you have to wait a good ten minutes to pick up your chow.I miss places like this in Europe. Some day, I hope, burger chains such as Five Guys or In-and-Out will expand to Europe and then Europeans can learn that the usual franchise outlets like Micky D's and Burger Krap are not hamburgers but actually just beef garbage recycling centers. At Five Guys the staff were actual cooks... not just burger flipping automatons. And they got a big kick when Fumie started snapping their pictures. "Hey, we're gonna be famous!"