How many guys does it take to make a good burger? Apparently more (or less) than fiveâ€”at least that’s what the burgers at the Park Slope outpost of the cult chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries suggest. Two thin, dry hockey-puck-like patties come stacked on an unremarkable bun. The free toppingsâ€”including jalapeÃ±os, A-1 Sauce and grilled mushrooms and onions, to name a fewâ€”are the only plus. Fries are flabby and flavorless, lacking all crisp. Empanada Boy and I ordered the spicy Cajun ones, which were just the same fries doused with a dusty heap of cayenne pepper. They didn’t redeem this restaurant.
So why do people (such as my editor, Noodles, mentioned in last week’s post) like this place so much? Perhaps it’s the free toppings, or the free peanuts they give you while you wait. Or maybe it’s that people are comparing it to McDonald’s, which it obviously surpasses. I’m just not sure how to explain the phenomenon. Since EB and I moved to Park Slope at the beginning of January, we’ve already had time to try Five Guys, reject it as overrated and identify a far superior burger at a place up the street called Flipster’s.
The name Flipster’s admittedly leaves something to be desired. (The website says it’s a reference to the Brooklyn hipsters who flip the burgers, but I noticed no skinny jeans or horn rims behind the grill.) But EB and I were very pleasantly surprised when we stopped in at Flipster’s after signing our lease. It’s a pretty standard looking bar and grill with dark wooden furniture and a TV playing sports. The menu has items like chicken sandwiches and popcorn shrimp, but burgers are the clear focus. These range from the most basic option to Kobe beef burgers, bison and lamb burgers and even a pizza burger with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese (might be gross, might be good).
I ordered the plain burger, which I believe is the true test of greatness because it highlights the most important ingredient: the meat. It came with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard and ketchup. EB ordered the Brooklyn Flipster Burger with bacon, mozzarella and caramelized onion. Both patties were obviously hand-formed and nicely charred on the outside. Biting into them revealed the pretty pinkish hue of the meat, medium-rare as requested. The meat was flavorful, fresh and juicy and had obviously never been frozen. It was a far cry from the chewy shriveled disks at Five Guys. EB’s bacon was crispy and delicious. The cheese added chew. Still, I don’t think a good burger needs these accessories, and I was completely content here without them.
Lastly, I cannot fail to mention the superior fries at Flipster’s. They are waffle-cut, offering a greater fried surface-area-to-volume ratio. These were crispy and evenly spiced with a blend of seasonings. Five Guys may give double the number of fries (a huge paper bag full) in its large order, but who wants to eat double the number of limp, flavorless potato sticks? Flipster’s wins this round too, hands down.
P.S. EB has been back to Flipster’s once since our first visit. He was offered a frequent burger card with his check. As much as we liked Flipster’s, we think this could set a dangerous precedent. That’s one club we won’t be joining.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
284 7th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
444 9th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11215