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August 03, 2011

The New York Chronicles (NYC): Shake Shack (Madison Square Park, UWS, Theatre District)

A couple days in and my trip to New York was already off to a flying start: I had been to a Broadway show, visited the museums, had a slice of heavenly pizza, and topped the Empire State! All I needed to seal the deal was a real American hamburger - Heck if it was good enough for Tony Stark after 3 months of captivity, I damn well want one too! And it's not hard to see why: few things in life are more satisfying than a burger - simple, hearty, and starting at $4.50 - what more could you want! That said, I usually find it difficult to endorse chains (run of the mill food, frozen tasteless meats, and so forth), but Shake Shack is an exception. With locations all across New York City (I got a chance to stop by their Madison Square Park, UWS, and Theatre District locations) and the East Coast, they still remain true to exactly what it takes to make a good burger; no compromises involved!

Enter the freshly ground 4 oz. beef patty. Top that with a blanket of cheese, lettuce and tomatoes (onions and pickles at your discretion). Sandwich between two halves of a soft baked bun and you're done! Genius, isnt' it? Defying-ly simple, yet completely satisfying. You tell me, doesn't that sound delicious? 

Now, back to Shake Shack. The first thing you'll notice and printed in big block letters along the wall in a motto-esque warning, "Stand For Something Good." Wonder what that means? Well, let's dive into an illustrative example, shall we? Let's say.. per chance, you decide to visit Shake Shack around 3 pm. Depending on the location, chances are that there will be a line out the door. That's fine, a lot of people like afternoon snacks, right? Let's try again, 6 pm? Dinner time.. good luck. 11 pm? Surely, it still can't be busy at 11! Actually, that corresponds with when the Broadway shows are letting out so guess what? Yup, still packed! It becomes rapidly apparent that Shake Shack is a busy busy chain and you will most certainly be waiting for your burger. *BUT* the wait is well worth it. Stand for something good! I'm serious.

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park) on UrbanspoonShake Shack (UWS) on UrbanspoonShake Shack (Theater District) on Urbanspoon
(Left to Right: Madison Square Park, UWS, Theatre District)
What's IN: Double Shackburger!
The extra patty is worth it and doubly delicious, trust me!

Let's talk about the burger first:

Patty - cooked to a beautiful medium: a layer of pink just peeking through the middle of the burger, moist and juicy.

Cheese - smooth as silk, perfectly resting on the patty.

Crisp lettuce, large slice tomatoes, oh baby, need I say more?

Now, there's a classic house burger that is listed on the menu as a "Shackburger". Good choice, but while you can go with the dainty single, I wholly recommend the double shackburger. Two 4 oz. beef patties stacked high with juice running down the sides, yes please. It looks like a mountain. A mountain of happiness. (P.S. Is it just me or do I sound like an ad? Flawed logic and all.. "Buy a Shack Burger, A Shack Burger is Happiness, Buy Happiness!") But honestly speaking, the double really adds to the experience - it's huge, it's meaty, and brings all the flavour from the grill. Yum.

That said, the shack burger isn't perfect. Even with the wax paper wrapper, I could still feel the grease seeping through: definitely not something you can eat daily (or more) without first checking with your health care provider and considering your likelihood of sudden cardiac events (just sayin'!). Another slight hiccup, the sauce creamed inside the bun, while good, didn't add much to the quality of the burger. With a freshly ground, home grown burger patty, I want (and expect) to taste the flavour of the beef! Not have it smothered underneath some calorific sauce. Chalk up another point to the double stack: double the beef-y flavour and meaty goodness!

With all this burger-talk, we have to keep in mind... it's more than just burgers. There's shakes (it is called Shake Shack after all...), hot dogs, beer, the whole she-bang! As for the shakes (I've tried most of the standard flavours), I would honestly relate it to drinking ice cream. But not like the melted, dripping mess that happens when you leave your ice cream out in the sun - no, that's just disgusting. Like drinking... soft serve, or a really rich milkshake. Getting the picture? They're sweet, and certain to send you straight down a road towards diabetes. The shakes taste great, and have a super smooth texture. Definitely something for a wonderful treat on a hot day, *cough* blistering hot heat wave rampaging through the States *cough*.

Anyways, bottom line: grab a burger, make it a double, pull some fries and grab a shake. Oh, and bring some friends - after all, someone has to snipe a table while you wait in line! ;)

The Verdict!: 91/100

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