Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In the Continuing Quest for the Perfect Burger

Phil and the blog A Hamburger Today have raved about Shake Shack in Madison Square Park (here's AHT's review). On Sunday, Phil, Jeeves, Jason and I met up to partake of these alleged tasty burgers.

The Shack opened in 2004. It is, according to its website, a "roadside" foodstand. Here's the deal - you stand in line, order your food, wait for said food, grab a table and eat. Given the inexpensive prices, rave reviews, and quality burger, the lines can be quite long. But as Frank Bruni of the Times puts it, it's the Dairy Queen of Manhattan, and who can pass that up?

I arrived early - at about 7:20 and Phil was already in line - we were soon joined by our burger comrades, and let me say - as the weather was lovely, the company lively, and the smell of burgers, fries and shakes intoxicating, the wait did not seem as long as it was. How long was it? It took about an hour from getting on line to sitting down at a table with our food.

I had a Shack Burger, and it was certainly tasty - the meat quality, which AHT pointed out, is better than most of the inexpensive burgers. My one complaint is that all the burgers are cooked the same (medium), unlike the Burger Joint, where it's cooked to specifications. And while the "shack sauce" was good enough, I didn't think it was out of this world - in fact, it was maybe a little to tangy for me. The french fries would have been disappointing, except that I had cheese fries and I think the cheese was just what these fries needed - very tasty. And the black and white milkshake - heavenly.

A little too heavenly. I had that uncomfortable "I ate too much" feeling, but could not stop sucking down my milkshake. Phil made the mistake of ordering a "concrete" which is a frozen custard. Basically, it's like a very large and very serious DQ blizzard. Phil had the Shack Attack concrete, which was chocolate custard, hot fudge, chocolate truffle cookie dough, valrhona chocolate chunks and chocolate sprinkles (Wendy, this was sooo in your wheel house). As Phil would say, this dessert was no joke. I had one bite and that was more than enough for me. After a double shack burger and fries, Phil did an admirable job on the concrete, but I think he was hurting after the fact. Jeeves had a Chicago dog along with a shack burger and a shake. I think the Shack lived up to our expectations, though Jeeves and I are both inclined to say Burger Joint might have a better burger.

Jason left us and we trudged up to The Ginger Man, and I would have been excited to go there under normal circumstances. GM is primarily known for its ridiculous selection of beers, but at this point a beer was about the last thing my stomach wanted. Phil and Rajeev kept asking if I was okay, but what I really wanted to do was lapse into a burger-induced coma. Instead, I sipped my Lindemann's Peche (delicious) and stared into space, occasionally throwing in my two cents about fantasy baseball, Phil's beard, and my tummy ache. After about an hour, I came to, but it was pretty touch and go there for awhile.

I really did like The Ginger Man, though - it had a really nice, laid back vibe, comfy chairs and the aforementioned beer selection. I would definitely return.

And as for the Shack, I would certainly return there again, so long as I had good company to stand in line with me. And perhaps I could exercise some restraint and lay off the cheese fries. Or the milkshake. But seriously? It was a really good shake.


  1. aah, you have discovered the joys of custard concretes, a staple of Midwest nightlife!!! Those things probably caused me to gain five pounds by themselves!

  2. G-Doll9:08 AM

    The Ginger Man is Mike's favorite place!