Five Guys Opens in Pelham, Chef Peter Kelly at James Beard House

Grease is the Word: Five Guys Opens in Pelham Manor

Did you hear the heavenly host singing? Well, if not, that’s your bad. Five Guys Burgers and Fries has opened across from Fairway in Pelham Manor, and it’s officially a madhouse.

Five Guys is the chain that earned raves in New York Magazine, Time Out New York, GQ, Boston Globe Magazine (etc., etc., ad nauseam), since creeping out of its DC-Metro origins in 2002. New franchises have broken out like bad acne, and now there are 185 locations within 200 miles of my home—and that includes another Five Guys planned for 240 Main Street in White Plains. Holy Expansion!

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Now, there’s a lot to like about Five Guys, a chain that takes more than a few pages from California icon In-N-Out Burger. Five Guys does not freeze its beef—and claims to use only “coolers” (namely, refrigerators). And, like In-N-Out, Five Guys uses actual whole potatoes that are cut and fried in-store.

Actually, Five Guys goes In-N-Out one better and celebrates the changing farms that grow their spuds. I was charmed to learn, when I visited last week, that my fries were from DC Farms in Blackfoot, Idaho. And I confess that I’m also slightly charmed, in these days of rampant nut-phobia, that Five Guys dares to offer free in-shell peanuts for waiting customers to scoop from an open trough. (Are they insane?) This makes the order-and-wait system feel slightly less tedious and strangely, given anti-nut-mania, a little risqué.

Here’s what to expect. First: a loud soundtrack of virtually irresistible classic rock tunes. When we visited, it was Bruce followed by Doors, Stones, and Tull—all the sort of fist-pumping anthems that have been drilled into modern American DNA. Second: Five Guys’ red and white checkerboard motif everywhere. And, a very abbreviated menu. We’re talking burgers and dogs, both offered with bacon and cheese and a slew of toppings, which range from the reasonable (mayo, lettuce, grilled onions) to outre (A.1. Steak Sauce and green peppers). The menu lists fries, sandwiches (veggie, cheese veggie, and grilled cheese), and the usual Coca-Cola Company roster. No shakes. No coffee. No desserts. I admire the clarity.

The specifically sourced fries are refreshing, if only in their relatability to a natural product. Unlike at Mickey D’s (where canola blend is king), these fries are fried in 100-percent peanut oil. (There they go again! Do Five Guys not want kids’ parties?) These spuds have not been denatured at the lab into pale, salty sticks of non-terrestrial origins. No, these are finger-fat batons, richly brown and very potatoey; they don’t get really crisp, and arrive barely contained by a drinks cup. Word to the wise: servings here are huge. Two can easily share one regular, 620-calorie cup of fries. And, PS: sodas are refillable, so there’s no need to drop 30 cents on the larger size. All good things to remember, because prices here are not so low—a cheeseburger is $5.69, a regular fries is $2.79, and a regular Coke, $1.89 (though aside from cheese and bacon, all burger and dog toppings are free).

And the burgers? Well, they’re all doubles unless you order a “little”—and they’re massy, and greasy, and served balled up in foil squares (see picture). In the cheeseburger “all the way”—that’s with mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, and mustard—there is a huge amount of goo to consider before attempting a bite. Be warned: this burger will not retain its integrity throughout your meal.  At some point your burger will disintegrate, leaving you in the wreckage. But that’ll teach you to eat without first putting your napkin on your lap.

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Is it great? I prefer Byram, Connecticut’s Burgers, Shakes & Fries, which is in the same massy/greasy oeuvre, but more subtle and more delicious. Plus, BSF won’t be building 200 new outlets in 2011. And BSF’s burgers are honest, locally made, and—with their buttered white bread slices—a little idiosyncratic. Plus, if I’m going to go down this road, BSF’s Neopolitan shakes are the way I’d prefer to die.


Wining and Dining

Okay, so now it’s February. That means you’ve got four months until summer, when your pale, hairy, fat body will be exposed to public ridicule. Now, with strenuous exercise and harsh dieting, you can lose about 30 pounds…if you start next week. This is last call for orgiastic bouts of winter eating and drinking.

Winemaker Dinner with Marcia Mondavi at Crabtree’s Kittle House
March 1, 7pm
$199 per person, all-inclusive

According to the Kittle House, “We are honored to welcome Marcia, Robert’s daughter and owner of Continuum along with her brother Tim to the Kittle House for a wonderful food and wine experience and introduce one of the finest red wines being produced in California today.”
Limited seating; call (914) 666-8044

Winter Wine Warm-Up at PLATES
March 1, 7pm
$65 per person, exclusive of tax and tip

According to the site, “Let’s get right to the big finish! This 3-course wine-tasting dinner will end with a hot mulled wine from Spain, Sola Fred, that will be paired with Plates’ famous homemade doughnuts. Nothing like that duo to warm you up and celebrate the end of February! Our friend and wine merchant / expert David Calkins of Wine Gems will be there to guide us and answer questions. The evening includes 4 wines and 3 courses from Chef Karp’s winter menu and begins at 7 by the bar with a sparkler. “
Reservations: (914) 834-1244 or

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Half Off Bottle Deal Wednesdays at Chiboust
Every Wednesday, during serving hours
Did you folks know about this? Charming and talented Chef Jill Rose takes the hump out of Wednesday by offering half off the price of bottles on her carefully chosen wine list (with the purchase of two entrées). And in the same vein—of making us drunk during mid-week—PLATES turns into a BYOB on Wednesday nights, offering Your Wine Wednesdays with no corkage fee. I double-dog dare you to bring in your crappiest bottle of wine.


Chef Peter Kelly and Crew to Cook at the James Beard House

Photo by Halina Sabath

Here’s a Don’t-Miss: At 7pm on February 28, X20’s Chef Peter Kelly and his team from the Xaviars empire will be serving a dinner at the prestigious James Beard House. The menu—prepared by Chef Kelly, his brother Chef James Kelly of Restaurant X and Bully Boy Bar; Chef George DiMarsico of Xaviars at Piermont; Chef Eric Diokno of X20; and Phillipe Scouarnec of Freelance Café & Wine Bar—is online, and includes seven hors d’oeuvres and a killer seven-course feast. Tickets are $170 per person, $130 for James Beard Foundation members.


Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries at Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Let’s just say that your arteries are too dilated, and your blood is rushing willy-nilly to all the thirsty areas of your body. Now, what you need is something that’ll slow it down, like the 920 cholesterol-soaked calories in this bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys. Still flowing? Well, try a large fries, whose potatoes hail—when we took this picture—from Blackfoot, Idaho. Sure, they’re fried in cholesterol-free peanut oil, but at 1,464 calories per serving, they’ll stick in your body (in some form) forever. PS: go ahead and crack that salt packet – God knows you’ll need the extra pressure to move your now slurry-like blood around.


Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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