Shake Shack

“This is no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread, Robin.  This is God, speaking to us in food.”  Marshall, “How I Met Your Mother”, Season 4, Episode 2.

Eatery:  Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, New York, NY

I acknowledge right up front that the restaurant picture shown here is misleading – it was actually taken at the Shake Shack on 8thAvenue in the Theater District.  In my defense, though, (a) I actually have eaten at both outposts and (b) it’s a friggin’ cool picture.

8th Avenue Shake Shack (photo by Gary Fong)

If you don’t live in New York – or Washington, Miami Beach, or, oddly, Dubai or Kuwait  – you may never have heard of Shake Shack.  If you live in New York, however, you’d have to live under a rock not to have heard of this chain.  Shake Shack is a New York institution, best known for the Shack Burger, Concrete shakes and hour-long lines (completely normal for lunchtime at the Madison Square Park location).  The first time I visited (about a year ago), it was strictly because I’d heard about the long queues and wanted to see what the fuss was all about.  Having been convinced that the hype could be believed, I continue to be an occasional patron though my habit is to get there (like, opening time early) on the early side to avoid the long line.  I don’t do long lines – not for films, not for nightclubs, not for food.  Not even for free stuff.  Well, maybe for free stuff…….hmmm…….let me think……no, not even for free stuff.

Double Shack Burger at Shake Shack

Anyway, the food here definitely makes the visit worthwhile.  The Shack Burger is topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and something called “ShackSauce.”  I don’t know what ShackSauce is, other than it’s clearly mayonnaise-based.  It’s a fabulous burger.  Cooked medium, with the awesome meaty taste I so love (apparently a sirloin-chuck-brisket blend from Pat LaFrieda) enhanced but not overwhelmed by its toppings.   The burger is sandwiched by a soft potato bun – very nice.  My one little complaint is that the burger is kind of salty – which, of course, pretty much all fast food is.  I really didn’t pick up on this until after the tomato part of the burger was gone and I was left with meat, cheese, bun and sauce.  Which I supposed means that salty flavor can be offset by tomato?

Shack Stack at Shake Shack – try saying that five times fast (photo by MJ Byers)

On a recent visit to the Battery Park City location,  I tried the Shack Stack – which replaces the second beef patty of a double cheeseburger with a fried cheese and portobello mushroom patty.  This is essentially a heart attack on a bun.  Now, I adore fatty, unhealthy food as much as the next person but I have to say that I’m not sure there is enough of a flavor impact here to make the Shack Stack worth the extra nutritional demerits (the already whopping 770 calories found in the Double Shack Burger are edged out by the 850 calories found in the Shack Stack) – though one could argue that the interesting textural and visual experience of the oozing cheese delivers sufficient value for fat intake.

Price:  Double Shack Burger, $7.00; Shack Stack, $8.50

 Destination Burger:  Yes, but possibly just as much for the lore as for the food.

Optional French Fry Rating:  Not ordered.

Fat and Calorie Worthy:  Yes indeed for the Double Shack Burger.  I’m not convinced about the Shack Stack.

Today’s Weigh In:  Travelling today and I don’t trust the hotel scale.

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