Burgers are back in St Peter's Street as Five Guys opens St Albans restaurant
- Credit: Matt Adams
It's been a long time since there was a burger joint in St Peter's Street. Those of you with long memories will hark back to when McDonald's and Burger King occupied the premises now taken by Metro Bank and The Card Factory, but now there's a new patty palace in the form of Five Guys.
The focus is very much on freshness, as nothing is frozen or microwaved and all food is produced daily, which explains the stack of potato sacks proudly on display in the middle of the restaurant.
Don't be expecting a salad or fillet of fish, this is without question a mecca for meat-lovers, and yes you can have fries with that! Vegetarians can opt for a sandwich, but to be honest if you're looking for plant-based takeaways there are many better places to choose from in St Albans.
Queue up to order, choosing the sort of burger or hot dog you want, and then choose as many different toppings as you fancy, mixing it up from a choice of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, jalapenos, green peppers, mushrooms, and various sauces.
There's a similar process with milkshakes - you can have half of one flavour and half of another - or you can grab a refillable cup and pick from one of 100 different cold drinks dispatched from a special vending machine.
The team of teenagers are a smiling, happy bunch of first-time jobbers, eager to learn and quick to please, which makes a change from the grunting front-of-house workers you find in some establishments. They have people outside to catch passing trade and patiently explain the options on the menu.
We grabbed a couple of burgers - one with bacon, jalapenos and hot sauce, the other with mushrooms and tomatoes - and some Five Guys fries, complemented by refill cups of Coke and Dr Pepper Zero (strawberry and cherry flavours!).
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Some customers stood in line waiting for their food, but we sat down on a Formica table and chairs to wait for someone to call out our order number, with our meal served in a paper bag, the burgers themselves wrapped in foil.
Everything is cooked in peanut oil, so be warned if you have any allergies!
We were both very impressed with our offerings - although there was perhaps a bit too much salt on the fries for my liking - albeit less so with the price, which was on the higher end of the scale for St Albans, so cheerful but not cheap.
It wasn't a long meal, and perhaps that's because we're used to rushing in this sort of environment, but do you really want to spend a leisurely lunch-hour in the midst of all this meaty mayhem? Far better to grab and go and enjoy your burgers in Vintry Gardens or some similarly relaxing locale.
There were queues throughout our visit, so it's obviously proving popular with visitors to the city centre, but will the novelty prove enough to turn them into returning customers? Only time will tell...