Monday, October 8, 2012
The other day I received a picture message from my fried Tim: he was trying The Habit Burger for the first time, and he really liked it. We started comparing notes on favorite burger chains. In-N-Out, Five Guys, Habit, Fatburger, etc. (I mentioned how much I loved Whataburger on my trip out to New York; even after only two visits I am considering putting it in my top 5.)
Then it occurred to me that I have yet to visit Shake Shack. I'd planned to visit the original one day a couple of months ago when I was in Manhattan. It was after 2PM so I figured I might be able to avoid one of their legendary long lines. I was not. There were more than 100 people in line. "Screw this," I said, and continued on my walk.
But there is a Shake Shack in Brooklyn about five blocks from us, so the other day I went in the mid-afternoon. It was still busy, but not too bad; I figured if I was ever going to try the place, this was the time. Shake Shack has such a strong following and is so frequently mentioned in the same breath as In-N-Out and Five Guys, I needed to see what the hype is all about.
The SmokeShack includes bacon, cherry peppers, and "Shack Sauce." I loved it. The bun was buttery soft, the meat was juicy and the flavors of the cherry pepper, bacon and sauce all worked well together. The cheese was neither here nor there; the burger would have neither been improved nor harmed with its omission.
I did not like it as much as a Double-Double - not even close, actually - but then again I've had hundreds of those in my life and only one Shake Shack burger. My friend Bryce was visiting last week and tried Shake Shack as well, and he put it like this: "I guess I've been spoiled growing up with In-N-Out."
(One thing that is not subjective: this burger cost $6.25 - twice the price of a Double-Double. Once again, a burger chain does not come close to matching the value of In-N-Out.)
My second-favorite kind of fry, after Belgian, is the crinkle-cut. When done well, I love the crispy outside ridges and the soft potato inside. Del Taco is the only chain at which I have regularly eaten that utilizes crinkle-cuts, but only about 10% of the time do they turn out the golden, crispy variety that I love.
Well, Shack Shake does crinkle-cuts and these orders were perfect. They came out a deep golden color and every single one of them - even the ones resting on the bottom of the pile - were crispy. If a place as busy as Shake Shack can turn out fries this good, other fast food chains should be ashamed that they can't do it, too.
I will definitely go back to Shake Shack, though I will never wait in one of their long lines and I will be sure to check the doneness of the burgers from now on. The only other close-by option among my favorite burger chains that I mentioned in the first paragraph is Five Guys. I liked my Shake Shack burger a little more, and my fries a lot more. Shake Shack won't ever become the at-least-once-a-month standby that In-N-Out was when I lived in California, but then again there is no restaurant here that I visit at least once a month except my local Chinese take-out joint.
Posted by JustinM at 9:30 AM