Five Guys Bristol, Cabot Circus: Review

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Five Guys Bristol - Exterior

 

The day is finally here. Five Guys is now in Bristol. Having opened on November 17th in the old Cafe Rouge unit in Cabot Circus, the first day was understandably pretty busy.

The first Five Guys branch opened in Arlington, Virginia in 1986, followed by a rapid expansion across the US. It was in July 2013 that they opened their first UK branch, in London’s Covent Garden, and the chain is slowly expanding throughout the UK.

Now, I’d never visited a Five Guys before, but the announcement that the chain was coming to Bristol was met with a huge amount of enthusiasm on both Twitter and Facebook. I was keen to see what all the fuss was about.

The venue itself is lovely and light, with plenty of seating both inside and out. On the night of our visit, the music was pretty loud, with a mixture of rock tunes and the likes of Procul Harum. We approved of the decor too: quotes from Five Guys reviews are printed onto boards and adorn the walls, while stacked boxes of peanuts (more on those later) and peanut oil (used to cook the fries) line the perimeter of the dining area. I also loved the fact that posters on the walls gave the name and location of the farm from which the potatoes used to make the day’s fries came: a nice touch.

The counter at which you order is directly in front of the door, with the queue frequently snaking outside on the opening night. Our server was very smiley and friendly, helping us to navigate our way through the menu as we chose our burgers and deliberated over which of the 15 free toppings we would go for. I also spied gift cards for sale at the counter – perhaps an idea for a Christmas gift for diehard burger fans…?

 

Five Guys Bristol - Counter

 

The menu is pretty simple. Essentially, it’s burgers, sandwiches and fries, with a variety of different toppings available. Just to make it a little more confusing, a regular burger features two patties while a small burger features just one – and while small fries are perfect for one person, the regular size will serve two to three and the large will serve three to four.

As well as the sandwiches and fries, diners have a choice of Brooklyn Lager, Corona or Budweiser – or a bottomless soft drink for £2.50. Drink prices are pretty reasonable, but food prices seem fairly high for a fast food chain.

 

Five Guys Bristol - Menu

 

I’d read about the drinks machines before we visited, and they were just as impressive as I expected. There are over 100 different soft drinks that can be ordered from two matching machines – and with bottomless refills for £2.50, there’s plenty of opportunity to test a number of them out. Ever had raspberry flavoured Coke or Fanta Grape? No? Now’s your chance.

What made me the happiest about these machines was the presence of caffeine-free Diet Coke. I gave up caffeine several years ago, but it was great to see that I could still test out seven different caffeine-free Diet Coke varieties. I tried two during our visit: the cherry and vanilla was novel, but I much preferred the raspberry, which worked surprisingly well.

 

Five Guys Bristol - Drinks 1

Five Guys Bristol - Drinks 2

 

After getting our drinks, we nibbled on some free peanuts, which diners can scoop into trays from a large crate as they please. The fact that they come with the shells still intact means that hygiene isn’t an issue here – and they were nicely salted too, which was a pleasant surprise.

 

Five Guys Bristol - Peanuts

 

We queued by the long kitchen counter to wait for our food: we were amazed at how many Five Guys employees were working like clockwork in the kitchen, one side of the space dedicated to grilling the burgers and cooking the fries, the other to adding burger toppings and seasoning the fries either with salt or with Cajun spices.

 

Five Guys Bristol - Kitchen

 

Shortly afterwards, our number was called and we retrieved our food, packed into a brown paper bag each. We began with the fries – standard salted fries for me, Cajun fries for Chris – while the picture below may make it appear that portions are relatively small, there were a hell of a lot more at the bottom of the bag.

There’s no denying that the fries were great: they had the skins still attached, which I love, and they were perfectly cooked with a lovely crisp outside and a fluffy interior. The salted ones were seasoned perfectly, and the Cajun fries had a lovely kick to them too.

 

Five Guys Bristol - Fries

 

And so…the burger. That’s what we were really there for, after all. Each burger is served wrapped in silver foil, and is wrapped upside down so that it’s the right way up when you open it (if that makes sense!) While silver foil is fine when eating in, I’m not sure how the burgers would fare for those choosing to take them away – surely they’d get soggy?

Every burger is handmade on the day that it’s served, and uses grain-fed Irish beef. The buns are created through a partnership with a UK bakery, and Five Guys claim that every other ingredient (bar the peanuts and pickles) is sourced locally.

I chose the bacon cheeseburger (a whopping £8.75), which contained two beef patties, both well cooked with a lovely char on the outside but still perfectly juicy in the middle. The bacon was crispy but not excessively so, while the sliced cheese (a guilty pleasure) was the lovely, oozy, melty kind.

I’d asked for my burger “all the way” – which means topped with lettuce, mayo, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup and mustard – but without the tomatoes. Sadly, as you can see, the tomatoes were included, but that’s a minor issue. With so many toppings, I was impressed that the bun held together for the duration of the burger: it was still fluffy but dense enough to take the strain. Be sure to pick up plenty of napkins, though – these are seriously messy burgers. Expect proper burgers here, not gourmet burgers. Thumbs up, though: these beat the more established (and, it has to be said, cheaper) burger chains hands down.

 

Five Guys Bristol - Bacon Cheese Burger

 

I’m pretty sure we’ll be back – not just for the food, but to work our way through more of the soft drink options from those amazing machines! While we enjoyed our evening, though, I think the price needs to be mentioned – at £14 for a burger, fries and a soft drink, it’s a fair bit more expensive than other burger venues – and, I’m told, more expensive than the Five Guys restaurants in the US. Fair play to the chain, though: there’s no denying that they produce a great burger in an unpretentious atmosphere, with gimmicks that actually work and aren’t just there for show. I have no doubt that their new Bristol branch is going to be a huge success.

 

Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

5 Responses to Five Guys Bristol, Cabot Circus: Review

  1. Pingback: Five Guys to open burger restaurant in central Bristol - Bristol Bites | Bristol Bites

  2. Not wishing to put too much of a damper on things, this place comes nowhere near up to scratch. Party of 6 and they managed to get three of the burgers completely wrong although the receipt was correct. The salad and pickles are watery and tasteless, the bun is just about adequate and the beef patty ok . The service is very poor and the frontman was so far up his own posterior it was quite comical. There was a small party of studenty types in at then same time (8.30pm) and they amused themselves by throwing the free nuts around. Some poor bugger was constantly sweeping up. completely soulless, poor food and bad service. Needless to say I will not be darkening its doorway ever again.

  3. I think the quality of food is bang on, after eating McDonald’s for so many years it’s nice to eat burgers with real fresh meat inside, in comparison that’s if there is one a little bit dearer but far better I would call this an eating experience, I will be back

  4. Doesn’t hit the price:quality point for me – I could be eating far superior sit-down meals for this sort of cost.

    Also worth noting that Burger King now has the magic drinks machines.

  5. 5 Guys in the U.K. is not a patch on 5 Guys in Florida. The U.K. operations are vastly overpriced compared to the U.S. After the initial interest subsides, the price will deter a regular clientele. I won’t be back to pay £15 plus for a burger, fries & a drink – no way!!

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