[Manhattan] Shake Shack

Whether or not you’ve visited NYC, the city is alluring for a number of reasons – the bright lights, the Empire State Building, Central Park, 30 Rock, Gossip Girl, the burgeoning arts scene in Williamsburg, hipster brunches in SOHO, the city’s unabashed endorsement of the green-juice-guzzling/bikram-yoga-practising yuppie lifestyle… They’re all lovely, and I sound like a patronizing bitch. Why can’t I just write prettily like other girls do?

MY POINT IS. Reasons to love NYC aside, this is what I was really there for back in February:

Shack Stack, USD8.85.

I spent months prior to my visit, before I’d even booked my air ticket, googling pictures of the Shack Stack. I read review after review, closed my eyes and imagined how it would taste. It was the stuff of my dreams.

Deconstructing the Shack Stack: A freshly ground Angus beef patty covered with a melted slice of American cheese, a crisp-fried breaded portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, a leaf of green lettuce, a slice of Roma tomato, a generous drizzle of mayo-based Shacksauce; all housed within a buttered and lightly griddled soft potato bun.

I trembled as I held the burger I’d been waiting to meet for months gently in my hands. I was trembling partly because I was sitting by the door and every time someone opened it I got a head-on blast of the accompanying subzero draft. I was trembling mostly because THIS was it, THIS was the moment I’d been waiting for for months, why is that girl on the left eyeing my food, I’ll kill her if she dares to make a sudden movement, OMG my mouth is opening here it comes –

I bit into it. I died.

This is one unreal motherfather. It’s so out-of-this-world delicious, it’s unreal.

There are no words to describe the feeling of sinking your teeth into a fluffy and buttery bun, hitting the huge, juicy breaded mushroom right beneath the bun surface, having molten cheese from WITHIN THE BREADED MUSHROOM spurt into your mouth, and then biting into a perfectly seared, perfectly medium beef patty.

No words. Life was perfect for the short span of time the burger lasted.

Seriously though, for a burger made up of so many components, it was a little on the small side.

Our order comprised 2 Shack Stacks, 1 order of fries and a single serving of concrete.

It’s frankly puzzling how mediocre the fries (USD2.70) were. As you might’ve noticed, the fries served here were of the crinkle-cut variety. Thick fries are amazing if they possess a crisp exterior and fluffy, potatoey interior. Sadly, these don’t. They’re bland and limp, and outright suck. You could fry the Farmland ones (available at NTUC) and serve them to me, and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

That the fries were gross didn’t bother me much (I ate them all is how little it bothered me) because who waits in line at Shake Shack for the fries? Surely not the lunchtime crowd I encountered, hovering around waiting patiently for seats in frightful blizzard weather. Burgers are Shake Shack’s main draw, and they sure as hell know it.

But guess what? Apparently the owners of Shake Shack have taken heed of the vitriol leveled against the crinkle-cut fries, and have just moved to replace them with fresh-cut fries. Initial reviews look promising, and I can’t wait to read more about them, and try them for myself. Guess this justifies another 22-hour plane ride to NYC….?

Pretzel! The Concrete, USD4.25 for a single serving.

Because I was trying to eat like a normal human bean instead of letting my usual monster self run wild, a decision had to be made (boooo) between the frozen custard ice-creams and the concretes, which are… blended frozen custards (this makes them denser, think sundaes vs. McFlurries). Naturally I picked whichever sounded more decadent, so here you have a picture of my concrete of choice.

This precious cup of goodness consists of chocolate custard, peanut butter sauce, marshmallow sauce, and there were chunks of chocolate-covered pretzels embedded throughout. Think an R-rated version of B&J’s Chubby Hubby…. mmm.

I love, love, love everything peanut butter, and I felt that the salty earthiness of the peanut butter played off excellently against the chocolate and marshmallow. I would have preferred a little more generosity with the pretzel bits, but then you could give me a human-sized sack of chocolate-covered pretzels and I’d still be requesting for an upgrade to yeti. Self control? Never heard of that.

The frozen custard flavors on offer vary from day to day, and the concrete flavors differ from location to location. Best to check the custard calendar/menu before making your way down.

Shake Shack, Theater District.

Because it was in the throes of winter when I visited, I headed for the Midtown branch instead of the original shack at Madison Square Park.

I left the restaurant after the meal and looked at it from across the road in a whole new light. It may have been the tears of gratitude clouding my vision. I know I’m going to have to try In-n-Out Burger, White Castle and the like before dramatically declaring this the best burger in the world. But for now, Shake Shack, thank you for making it so easy to fall in love with NYC.

Shake Shack (Theater District, NYC)
691 8th Avenue
(8th Ave & 44th St)

1. Direct access via 42nd Street/Port Authority station (Lines A, C, E). Exit at 44th Street end of platform.
2. Alternatively, take the subway to Times Square (Lines 1, 2, 3). It’s a short walk from Times Square.

Opening hours: 11.00a.m. to midnight, daily.

Their site can be found here.


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