Burger Night: Shake Shack (Double Vision Edition)

...Where your hosts, HT and MD, blog together! What craziness will ensue, dear reader?! HT: I was due for a visit to Shake Shack; I hadn't been there in 9 months, and I had heard that they had made some changes -- most notably, a new french fry supplier. And hell, it was high time we made a concerted effort to not only eat outside our burger comfort zone, but to eat outside, period. It's summertime, people. Make use of your al fresco dining establishments. Pronto. That said, Shake Shack requires a wee bit of patience. Even with the live Shackcam to let those of us leaving the office know how long the line is, there's really no telling how bad it's going to be until you actually get to Madison Square Park. When MD and I got there, the line looked like it might use up 30-40 minutes of our early evening. We braved it anyway. I was mildly dying for some red meat. Some 45 minutes later, our food arrived: A double hamburger for me, a single shackburger for MD, two orders of fries, a bird dog (chicken and apple sausage), and a lemonade. And ... huh. Something had changed. I mean, the burgers were still pretty good, but something was missing. The oomph. The joie de vivre. And the fries -- overdone! They used to be something close to manna, and now they were just ... serviceable. The bird dog, however, was a thing of beauty: the dog itself had such snap! Such life! Probably the best thing we had all night. As disappointed as I was with the meal, my body was clearly happy. So happy, in fact, that when I got home around 10:30 that evening, I promptly passed out. For 11 hours. No joke. I apparently went into some sort of red meat/protein shock (you try to eat two burger patties and half a hotdog the day after consuming the largest porkchop on the planet and see what your body does). I hadn't slept that well in years. MD: I had actually planned to write about Shake Shack awhile back to kick off my "Overrated" series of posts. I never got around to it and discovered how much HT loved Shake Shack and decided to back off. So when HT suggested a trip to the Shack, I was thrilled -- we could finally exploit the full potential of team blogging. We could be Point and Counterpoint! It would be like Crossfire but no one would be wearing a bow-tie and annoying sh*t-eating grin. We arrive and the line seems to stretch for miles. Luckily HT and I have steeled ourselves for this with a couple drinks and some amazing onion rings at a bar that shall have to remain nameless. (It is a chain. It is in Midtown. We are not proud. The drinks were free.) We wait about a half hour and get our food. I bemoan the fact that today is "Salty Caramel" custard day and not "Strawberry Rhubarb." We sit and start to eat. The food was ok. I have not so much to say, honestly. The dog was amazing and the french fries were a crime against G-d. However, one thing was amazing and horribly distracting. At the table nearest to us were two men in matching outfits -- dark shirts, khaki shorts, leather footwear. Both were late thirties/early forties. Well-manicured, beefy, presumably gay and the tension between them was palpable. But the tenor of the tension was unclear. The man on the left sat back, coolly, but jutted his legs forward, but together into the other man's space. They shared a beer and their hands almost touched as they traded it back and forth. The other man was clearly more eager. He held the beer with his arm extended into the other man's personal space. His legs fell open with another hand upon his inner thigh. At this point HT asked a question I won't repeat about who played which sex role... but it was unclear if they had ever had sex. They were talking about mutual acquaintances but were they friends? Coworkers? In the end we decided they had "loved" physically and guy-on-the-right wanted a repeat, while guy-on-the-left was probably playing it cool (although I have no doubts he was going to give in that night unless something better came along). While it was fascinating and intriguing, their inchoate relationship upset my stomach much more than the poorly done burger ever could.


Asad said...

Shake Shack was never THAT good - or rather, always a nice simulacrum of a Chicago (or Buffalo, which has similar places) "hots" place, but never, ever worth waiting 40 mins for. Plus, that line makes you feel like there are too many zombified food conformists who believe what New York magazine says. Not that I would ever believe HT to be such.

ht said...

Surprisingly (or not), the Shack employs a high number of culinary school students and grads hoping to get their foot in the Danny Meyer restaurant world. I know someone who recently graduated from the French Culinary Institute, and who got a job there last summer He got pretty excited the day he rotated into the custard shift. It's apparently a very big deal.

For what it's worth, at the end of the day, I'm a non-New-York-Magazine-reading In-and-Out girl who regrets spending her college years very far away from red meat (and who is now trying to make up for it. in spades).

Asad said...

Oh, for sure, HT, it's a better version of a fast-food burger than, say, Blue 9 (which is decent). Wouldn't expect anything less out of the estimable Mr. Meyer. And they grind their own beef blend at 11 Madison Park, yadda.

But I just mean that rather than wait an hour (for real!?) for that well-made trifle, I'd have at least twenty other, better burgers with shorter waits. Just to stick with Danny Meyer, for instance, there's the Union Square Café's amazing burger. Though that softball of meat will take you to the mat.

A secret (my) neighborhood tip: the burger at La Esquina. It's really fricking good, and pretty cheap - it has a really good sauce on it. And you can eat it outside, usually with no line if you have it from the takeout side. Shhhh.

Carson said...

...then there's the burger at Selfridges, London, that goes for 85 pounds (170 USD) a pop.

The ingredients of the sandwich are: Wagyu beef, fresh lobes of foie gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, arugula, red pepper, mustard confit and English plum tomatoes.

Forget protein shocks - this will send you into caloric spasms!


md said...

I will go on record as saying that's a small price to pay if it is as delicious as it sounds.