The Dish: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

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I still haven't completely recovered from the closing of Big V's Burger Joint. While Five Guys Burgers and Fries might not fill all of the gap in my heart, I think it will accelerate the healing process.

A lot.

Five Guys was founded in Arlington, Virginia, in 1986. It now has more than 300 locations spread across 25 states. It recently opened its first St. Louis location at Town & Country Crossing, by the border between Town & Country and Chesterfield.

The menu is blissfully simple: burgers, hot dogs and fries. Toppings are free. Jalapeño slices are the most exotic of these. A regular burger has two patties, thin and (alas) well done. I ordered my burger with bacon, cheese and -- trying to recreate my beloved Big V's Animal, though this didn't occur to me until later -- jalapeño slices and grilled onions.

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Though well-done, the patties weren't dry. Even better, they managed to be juicy without seeming too greasy, the flaw of many fast-food burgers. The bacon was crisp, the onions were strong and a tad sweet and the jalapeño slices -- served raw and unseeded, so they packed a punch.All in all, a damn fine burger. And at $5.99 (before tax), more than worthy of Gut Check's $6 Gourmet certification.

And the fries! These are fries exactly as they should be, thick-cut, with the idealbalance between a crisp, brown exterior and a hot, fluffy interior. Though I couldn't see how the fries were made from start to finish, they tasted like fries made the proper way: freshly cut, soaked, fried once and then fried again at service.

A nice touch: A dry-erase board near the service counter tells you the origin of "Today's Potatoes." Today's were from Sugar City, Idaho. As at Big V's, these details add up to an experience far beyond your standard fast-food joint. While Five Guys might never entirely replace Big V's in my heart -- Big V's burgers snuggled up close to the line of "too-greasy," making them an especially hedonistic pleasure, not to mention that it was locally owned  --  burger aficionados shouldn't wait to check them out.

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