As you may have heard, there's a new outfit in town, and this time it's one of America's premium chains. Even with the glut of burger joints we've got at present--high, low, and in between--someone has decided that Montreal is ready for a nouveau concept, a nouveau système. But whose? White Castle? Krystal? In-n-Out? Nope, Arlington, Virginia's very own 5 Guys Burgers and Fries, the chain that reputedly holds the distinction of being President Obama's favourite burger (or, at least, one of them).
Now, 5 Guys have yet to actually make it to the island of Montreal, but they have set up shop in the area, and are poised for a glorious entrance into Montreal proper. Their first regional franchise--the first in Eastern Canada--is in Vaudreuil, just minutes from both the 20 and the 40 to the west of the island. But apparently 5 Guys are planning to go toe-to-toe with the big boys and open a location in Old Montreal sometime in the very near future.
AEB received an invitation to sample the 5 Guys experience firsthand, so that's exactly what we did. We assembled a seasoned team of burger lovers--3 guys and 1 doll--and we took the mobile unit out to Vaudreuil to check out 5 Guys.
The first thing you notice is the red check interior.
fig. a: 5 Guys spuds
The next thing you notice are the matching stacks of Idaho spuds, just waiting to be transformed into 5 Guys famous fries.
fig. b: 5 Guys goobers
After that, you notice the complimentary goobers, which are there to keep you occupied while you wait for your freshly prepared 5 Guys burger to be assembled.
5 Guys burgers fall into two categories: double-pattied hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, and bacon cheeseburgers, and single-pattied little hamburgers, little cheeseburgers, little bacon burgers, and little bacon cheeseburgers. It's a little confusing, I know, but that's how 5 Guys rolls--their standard burger consists of two hefty patties. Regular toppings include mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, grilled onions, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled mushrooms--so an "all-dressed" would consist of all of the above. Specialty toppings include jalapeño peppers, A-1 sauce, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce. All toppings--both regular and specialty--are free.
Fries come in two varieties: regular and Cajun.
The preferred beverage is Coca-Cola.
Place your order and you help set an entire team of food service professionals into a frenzy of activity. Burgers are fried and assembled in the open, behind a glass partition, and the impression that's given is of an organization whose execution is almost military-like, with a general keeping the grunts in precise order.
5 Guys patties are sizable, and their fries also take a little bit longer than your usual fast food fare, so there's a bit of a wait between ordering and receiving, and you actually have to wait until your number is called, but you've got the goobers to keep you company and this is still definitely fast food.
fig. c: 5 Guys bacon cheeseburger
And the burger? With two hefty patties, and a whole lot of toppings, the standard 5 Guys burger has a considerable amount of girth to it. I'd even venture to call it a whopper. It's tasty, too. The next time I'd lay off of the cheese (which didn't appear to be Kraft singles, unfortunately) and just go with a bacon burger, and I found my grilled onions a little anemic (not caramelized the way I like them), and most of us agreed that the bun should have had some more substance to it, but this was definitely not your standard chain burger (which is one of the reasons it's not priced like one). 5 Guys prides itself on its freshness, and on that count, and others, they delivered.
The fries? Neither Michelle nor I were crazy about their Cajun spices, but the fries themselves were quality. Not quite like Al's, at their finest, but a cut above your average chain fries.
Will 5 Guys make it in the Montreal market? They might catch a little flak from the Language Police, but otherwise I have a feeling they're going to do just fine.