Today is National Cheeseburger Day. I likes me a good burger, and fortunately there are plenty of good burger places near Chez Belm, many of them in Harvard Square: Flat Patties, b. good, and the traditional favorite, Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage. I have occasionally strayed out of that culinary comfort zone, sampling the offerings at Four Burgers in Central Square and R.F. O’Sulivan in Somerville (whose burger is described by the owner as “a gigantic thing for your mouth”).
I recently stumbled across a Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Orange, CT – a chain that started in the Washington D.C. area, but has now extended its empire into New England (the closest Boston location is in beautiful downtown Deadam). I had read some online raves about the chain, so I decided to take a break from buying light bulbs for mother-in-law (don’t ask) and try a burger.
The menu is sparse, a good sign at a place like this – it means they concentrate on making a few things well. The decor is minimal: tables, chairs, a box of free peanuts in the shell, and walls covered with reviews and magazine articles. By the front door is a pallet loaded with sacks of potatoes, which are identified at the counter (“Today’s potatoes are from Pasaco, WA”). Fries come in two styles: regular and cajun spiced. All the “regular” burgers have double patties; if you want a single patty you have to order a “little” burger. A sign advises you that all of the burgers are cooked well done.
Despite that red flag, the bacon cheeseburger I ordered (pictured above, topped with just lettuce and tomato) was juicy and flavorful. It was an OK burger, a bit underseasoned, but better than many other flat-top cooked burgers I’ve had. But the fries: They could change the company to Five Guys Fries and not lose a single customer. Those thick, hand-cut fries, cooked in corn oil, might as well have been laced with crack – that might go part of the way to explaining how amazing they tasted. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but they fill up a large styrofam cup with perfectly cooked fries, drop the cup into a paper bag, and then they fill the rest of the bag with a second helping. Oh, Jeebus, I had to exercise every ounce of self-control not to eat all of both orders of fries (one regular, one cajun). I fought with He Who Will Not Be Ignored over the last few stragglers at the bottom of the bag.
It may not be worth a trip to Deadham, but if you find yourself near a Five Guys, make the detour to try those fries (and a decent burger). I mentioned the name to my brother-in-law, who spends a lot of his work time on the road, and his eyes got glassy as he mumbled “Those friesâ€¦”
Why did I title this post “A Feisty Burger” and then go on to rate it as merely “decent”? Because how often will I get to make a J.S. Bach/Martin Luther joke?