kottke.org posts about Shake Shack
2004 was a pretty good year for the NYC food scene. Among the openings were The Spotted Pig, Per Se, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Shake Shack.
If there was a movement taking shape, its key players admit they didn't notice until after the fact. And many of them spent the year struggling. Mr. Chang was desperate for customers in the early days at Noodle Bar, and kicking himself for having failed to apply for a kitchen job at Per Se or Masa. "I remember thinking very clearly, 'What am I doing?' " he said. " 'This is stupid. I should be working at Masa!' "
In some cases, 2004 was an outright fight. At the Spotted Pig, Mr. Friedman and Ms. Bloomfield, who had arrived from England, envisioned the vibrant boite as "a really cool bar that happened to have food as good as any restaurant in town," Mr. Friedman said. "Who made the rule that you can't have a real chef instead of someone who defrosts the frozen French fries?"
People waiting in line for food in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s:
The opening day line for the newest outpost of the Shake Shack in Moscow:
That's nothing, though, compared to the line to get into the first McDonald's in the Soviet Union, which opened in Moscow in 1990.
A year later in Moscow, an estimated 1.6 million people turned out to see Metallica in concert. Look at all those people:
Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality is opening two Shake Shacks and a Blue Smoke in Delta's new Terminal 4 at JFK airport.
The Shake Shack gets a lukewarm one-star review from Pete Wells at the NY Times...the main problem was consistency.
How the burger could change lives I never divined, but on occasion it was magnificent, as beefy and flavorful as the outer quarter-inch of a Peter Luger porterhouse.
More often, though, the meat was cooked to the color of wet newsprint, inside and out, and salted so meekly that eating it was as satisfying as hearing a friend talk about a burger his cousin ate.
Even when the burgers were great, they could be great in one of two distinct ways. In the classic Shake Shack patty, a tower of ground beef is flattened against a searing griddle with a metal press and made to stay there, spitting and hissing, until one surface turns all brown and crunchy. A patty handled this way takes command of a Shackburger, standing up to its tangy sauce, its crisp lettuce, its wheels of plum tomato.
Sometimes, though, the grill cook hadn't had the energy needed for smashing and searing. Instead the patty was tall, soft and melting, so pink inside that its juices began to soak the bun at the first bite. Good as this version was, it was anomalous.
The Shack Burger is still my favorite hamburger and sitting in Madison Square Park eating one on a warm night with friends -- hell, even waiting in line for 45 minutes catching up -- is one of my favorite NYC activities.
In a somewhat flawed test -- e.g. part of the In-N-Out burger package was confiscated by airport security -- the Shake Shack beat Five Guys and In-N-Out in a Serious Eats taste test.
Clearly the In-N-Out burgers making their trans-continental trip by plane would be at a disadvantage to the made-fresh-in-the-same-city burgers from Five Guys and Shake Shack, so in order to compensate for this, we made the decision to handicap all three burgers by the same amount. After a careful synchronization of watches, burgers were ordered from their respective establishments at precisely 1 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time (that's 9 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. Pacific) and not tasted until the following morning.
I used to be a big In-N-Out fan (their burger is still a great fast food burger), but the slightly more upscale Shack Burger is my favorite burger in the whole wide world...it is indeed, as the article states, "a marvel of beefy engineering".
The Shake Shack is turning into Danny Meyer's accidental fast food empire.
"A hamburger stand is a very democratizing amenity," he said. "We hope that each new Shake Shack can become both a citizen of, and mirror of, their communities."
With a bit of research and social engineering, an enterprising burger enthusiast has figured out the recipe for the infamous Shake Shack burger.
Exclamation point interlude: !!!!!!!!!!!!!
Upon tasting it, my immediate thoughts are mayo, ketchup, a little yellow mustard, a hint of garlic and paprika, perhaps a touch of cayenne pepper, and an elusive sour quality that I can't quite pinpoint. It's definitely not just vinegar or lemon juice, nor is does it have the cloying sweetness of relish. Pickle juice? Cornichon? Some other type of vinegar? I can't figure it out. This was going to take a little more effort.
Totally doing this for dinner one of these nights. We'll probably cheat on the ground beef...we've got some Pat LaFrieda patties stockpiled in the freezer.
Both Katz's deli and Shake Shack have had "Z" malfunctions on their signs. Something in the NYC water?
Eater doesn't come right out and say it ("note new equipment..."), but I think that when the Shake Shack opens for business on Wednesday, they'll be distributing those light-up buzzer thingies that vibrate when your food is ready instead of having everyone mill around the window while employees yell things that sound like your name even though it's not.
Update: Confirmed...the ShackWand will be in full effect. (And psst, rumor has it the Shack opens today, not Wed...)
Here it is, the awful truth. After sampling In-N-Out Burger twice this past weekend (a cheeseburger with raw onion and, 4 days later, a Double Double w/ no onions) and having had several Shack Burgers this year (my most recent one was a couple of weeks ago), an adequate comparison between the two can be made. The verdict?
The Shake Shack burger wins in a landslide. It's more flavorful, features a better balance of ingredients, and a yummier bun. On the french fries front, In-N-Out's fresh-cut fries get the nod.
Courtesy of Mena, something to keep in mind: a cheeseburger at In-N-Out is $1.85 while a similarly appointed Shack Burger is $4.38, almost 2.5 times as much. SS french fries are nearly twice the price of In-N-Out fries. The burger comparison is an unfair one because, despite its location and style, Shake Shack is a restaurant and In-N-Out is a fast food joint. That the burgers are even close enough to compare -- and make no mistake, I still love the In-N-Out burger -- says a great deal about In-N-Out.
I did some important investigatory journalism today: burgers at the Shake Shack on opening day. Journalism has never been so delicious.
Megnut reports that Thomas Keller (an In-N-Out fan) may be doing his own burger joint in the Napa area. He must have tired of Danny Meyer crowing about the Shake Shack at all those restauranteur slumber parties. (ps. Shake Shack reopens in 6 days!)
The folks at Danny Meyer's Shake Shack go above and beyond the call of duty. When a birthday party shows up after an erroneously posted closing time, the manager has food sent over for them from the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park. Amazing service.