Five Guys, Birmingham

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Vegetarians are for life, not just for Christmas. A preposterous statement I know, but one I can boldly state as I live with one – most of the time anyhow, in between her random cravings for chicken in black bean sauce or sausage. Meaty cravings aside, over time I have come to understand that cooking for a vegetarian requires thought and consideration; they won’t accept humus for lunch every day, nor a nut roast every Sunday. They rightly expect meal times to have the same variation as a carnivore. You can’t be half-arsed with a vegetarian.

So a restaurant shouldn’t be permitted a half-arsed approach either. If you don’t want the hassle of dietary-specific customers, it’s easy; don’t cook for them. Simply refuse to prepare food that they will eat. Fry the chips in lard, grate foie gras on hummus, blend anchovies in to every salad dressing and they will take their business elsewhere. Don’t tell them they can have a grilled cheese sandwich, which transpires to be two soggy buns with a slice of processed cheese in the middle. And don’t, under any circumstances, be so lackadaisical about making it that the top bun is on upside down. This travesty against the sandwich is how much Five Guys care about The Non Meat Eaters and this is one of many reasons why I hated Five Guys.

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I appreciate that the majority of those that step in to the self-absorbed Five Guys won’t have to go through the trauma that we did. They will be here for the meat and for that they will do marginally better. They will have no doubt read the countless articles that line the walls here, proclaiming for all to hear that they are kings of the burger. Let’s keep it simple; they’re not. The patty has good beef flavour, but is devoid of any moisture thanks to it being cooked to well done. The bun was again damp and of the optional toppings only the pickles seemed remotely remarkable. More notable was the fries, properly tasting of potatoes, though for four quid for a regular portion I’d not only to expect them to taste of them, but to come with that particular spuds family tree.

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The price of the food here is comparably to a motorway service station Burger King and if we are take the two of them then Five Guys does offer a marginally better experience. The reality though is that you won’t find Five Guys on a motorway station sandwiched between Costa Coffee and Subway – they have far bigger ambitions than that. It’s coming to a high street near you armed with mediocrity. Birmingham has a burgeoning food scene with dozens of better lunch time options than the drivel that they mass cater here. We don’t need Five Guys. We have pubs with ambitions and street food stands like Meatshack and Original Pattie Men that make the burgers here look like McDonald’s. Which they are in essence. Five Guys is Ronald McDonald in a fake fur coat. You have been warned.

2/10

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