Monday, November 15, 2010

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

You may have heard of Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I had heard that they were a similar concept to my beloved In-N-Out burger -- fast-food burgers made from fresh, never-frozen beef and freshly-cut french fries. Unlike In-N-Out, however, Five Guys has locations all over the country.

Now, I had been to Five Guys before the genesis of this blog -- they have a location in Edina to which I made a trip a while back. And, frankly, I was disappointed. entire experience was tainted by shattered expectations: I was looking forward to a cheeseburger and a shake...but Five Guys doesn't offer shakes. Having to settle for a soda ruined the whole experience for me on that day. So when a new Five Guys location opened up in Dinkytown, I decided to return with a more open mind and attempt to give an unbiased review.

So, I made a lunch date with a friend and we headed to the Five Guys. I ordered my burger: a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, mayo, and ketchup. Now, at Five Guys, a regular burger is actually a double, with two meat patties (along with two slices of cheese for the cheeseburger) -- if you want a single burger, you'd order the so-called "little burger". With a side of fries and a soft drink, the total was about $10 -- the cheeseburger alone was $5. As an aside, a regular order of fries is a LOT of fries -- most normal people could split an order with no issues.

The burger arrived looking quite nice -- the two slices of American cheese, melted well, were between the two patties, the lettuce and tomato were placed on top with the nicely grilled onions below. The sesame bun was toasted nicely too. Cutting through showed the well-done meat, as expected and as clearly stated on the menu.

And you know what? This is actually a pretty good burger. The meat was seasoned decently, though perhaps a little unevenly, and having the cheese in between the two patties helped make sure that each bite had nice flavor. Certainly better than I had remembered. On the other hand, the tomato was bland, the lettuce was iceberg (meh), and the bun, though fresh, was not particularly flavorful. Still, overall, a really good fast-food burger, and I'm glad there's a location within easy walking distance of my office!

Does it best In-N-Out? The burgers are comparable in taste, and a Five Guys cheeseburger is a little bigger than an In-N-Out Double Double. Then again, Five Guys is a bit more expensive ($5 vs. $3). I'm personally still partial to In-N-Out (possibly due to nostalgia and pre-existing bias), but if you prefer Five Guys I won't look down on you.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
1413 Fourth St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

P.S. I know this isn't a french fry blog, but Five Guys' fries are hands-down better than In-N-Out's.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Convention Grill

I had been meaning to go to Convention Grill for a while, based on a good friend's recommendation, but I never seem to find myself out that way (I mean seriously, who goes to Edina?). But this past weekend I was hungry and craving a cheeseburger (as is often the case) and decided to make the trek out to the 'burbs and see if it truly lived up to the hype.

The decor in the place is distinctively retro, if not actually old -- fine dining this is not. But hey, it doesn't need to be, as cheeseburgers know no socioeconomic boundaries. The basic burger at Convention Grill is described as "lean ground beef cooked medium-well on a hearty bun" for $4.95. To this you can add cheese of one of a few varieties ($0.95), get it "California style", with lettuce, tomato, and mayo ($0.95), or with both as a "California cheeseburger" -- for $1.95. Indulge me for a brief moment while I complain: They're charging me MORE for getting two things together? It's only 5 cents, but...that's not how it's supposed to work. Ok. Breathe. Ok I'm good. On to the burger. I ordered the California cheeseburger with "smokey cheddar" and grilled onions.

When it arrived, I took note of the following: Two nice looking tomato slices, a big romaine leaf, and not-fully-melted cheese. As at Smashburger, the nicely grilled onions were placed underneath the cheese. I had thought I had escaped the dreaded pickles, but it turns out they were hiding underneath the lettuce leaf. For those who do like pickles, the three miniscule pickle chips provided would barely cover a third of the nicely-seared patty. The bun was sadly untoasted. Cutting it in half, I saw the patty was cooked to what appeared to my eye to be well-done rather than medium-well -- nary a hint of pink to be found. Not surprisingly, given the "lean" description of the meat used, it was not particularly abundant in juice.

On the flavor front, it was actually pretty good. The meat was seasoned quite nicely, and smoked cheddar really should be mandatory for any cheeseburger. On the downside, it was on the dry end of acceptable. The bun was soft and fresh but otherwise nothing special. And the lack of toasting in my mind really hurts -- why wouldn't you take the opportunity to add another layer of texture, flavor, and, ideally, butter?

Still, I enjoyed the burger. Not great, but the good seasoning and smoked cheddar was enough to elevate it from "meh" to "pretty good" in spite of its shortcomings. While I probably wouldn't make the trip just for it, especially given that I have what I consider to be a better option right in my neighborhood, if I were out there anyway I'd definitely consider it if I was in the mood for a cheeseburger -- as is often the case.

Convention Grill & Fountain
3912 Sunnyside Rd, Edina, MN

(952) 920-6881 ()