Monday, February 14, 2011

Five or Two Men, Brothers, or Guys

I think everyone is familiar with this place except me. I couldn't keep the name straight. I knew it was a name with a number, either two or five, and another word, men, brothers or guys. There are quite a few ways to put some of these words together as a name. Well, I now know that two brothers, Robert and Karl, have paid a visit to Five Guys restaurant in Hoover Alabama. I'll try to keep from confusing Five Guys with another local business, Two Men and a Truck.

This place has a reputation for good burgers; but they also have hot dogs on their limited menu. That, together with their location which is fairly convenient for us, made this our next stop on the hot dog tour.
I have noticed an abundance of specialty hamburger places in recent years. I once referred to some of the chain restaurants as; "five dollar hamburger places". Those place have now left five dollars in the dust as they have moved their prices even higher. These new specialty hamburger places have come along selling burgers that bear little resemblance to anything on the menu at Micky D's. But on this day we were not looking for burgers; we wanted hot dogs.

When we arrived at Five Guys I liked what I saw from the outside, lots of big windows and sidewalk tables for warmer times than February. Stepping inside we encountered a decor that reminded me of a school lunch room. Everything is very basic. The decorations on the walls consist entirely of bold black and white signs and quotes from reviews of their restaurants in other cities. I could easily envision doing no damage whatsoever when cleaning this place with a hose. But we weren't there for the ambiance; we wanted hot dogs.

One more digression before we get to the meal. Five Guys has several large containers of roasted peanuts (in the shell) available for all at no charge. There are paper french fry trays ready to be loaded with peanuts to shell and eat while waiting for an order. Their french fries, which are very good, come in a cup which they place in a bag along with a generous handful of fries to overflow into the bag.

There is no standard hot dog on the menu; rather the customer chooses toppings from all available hamburger toppings. This presents the opportunity to build a really unusual hot dog, an option chosen by Robert when he ordered his hot dog with mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled onions and bar b.q. sauce.

Since one can't just order a hot dog "all the way" or a chili dog (They don't have chili) I attempted to build a Chicago style hot dog by asking for mustard, relish, dill pickles, tomatoes and green peppers. I'm sure my hot dog was no where near a Chicago style hot dog in the end; but I tried.
(Sorry, I took a bite before I remembered to take a picture.)

They prepare their hot dogs by splitting the dog down it's length, then grilling it on both sides. They then place it in a bun and add toppings. My hot dog had enough toppings that the bun was pulled apart and they attempted to build it like a sandwich. This skinny sandwich with lots of toppings was difficult to eat since almost everything on the sandwich tried to slide out of one side or another when I took a bite. The flavor was good but the experience was frustrating. I guess I should have either wrapped the foil tightly to peal back as I ate or just asked for a knife and fork.

Even after the frustration I had with my sandwich I will probably return. I think the key to ordering a hot dog at Five Guys is to keep it simple and limit the toppings. I know tomatoes are one of the standard ingredients on a Chicago style hot dog; but I have concluded that the tomatoes just add to the mess while their flavor gets lost with so many toppings. I'm sure that's heresy to the connoisseur of Chicago style dogs. I'll even have them as I continue the search for the real Chicago dog in Birmingham.

Speaking of Chicago style hot dogs. there was a comment left by a reader known as "This is my dad. He's got a bald head". I was disappointed to see he removed it himself. I appreciated his comment.

More to come on Chicago style dogs in the weeks to come.