Restaurant review: Shake Shack, where a really good meal gets tainted by Ore-Ida fries

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Don’t you just hate when you get all dressed up and prep for an interview, show up on time, and then find out that the interview is on Thursday, and not Tuesday?

No?  Never happened to you?  Ummmm…me neither…

But let’s just say that I did.  And after that, I had more free time than I thought I would.  And I would realize, hey, I live in a city where they’re advanced enough to have a Shake Shack, which people absolutely lose their shit over.  And I would say, I’m in the mood for an overpriced burger, why don’t I check that out?

And this, this is how my visit started.  I mean, would have started, if, you know, everything above was true.

THE LINE

You always hear how long the lines are to get these burgers.  Like it’s some sort of mid-20th century communist Russia food line, and this might be the only food you get all week, except instead of plain stale bread it’s a burger made from prime beef.  It’s totally the same.

This is the line.  At noon.  In the biggest mall in Houston.  The Tuesday before Christmas.

So I’m not at all impressed.  This is not a good start.

THE MENU

I couldn’t get a good picture of the whole menu, but here’s the basic rundown of the burger options:

  • the basic burger
  • the Shack Burger with “Shack Sauce” (which is of course in no way described anywhere on the menu)
  • the ‘Shroom Burger for your vegetarian friend that whines “well I don’t understand why I can’t get something at the burger restaurant shouldn’t they put something on the menu at the burger restaurant without meat this is so unfair VEG LIVES MATTER!!!”
  • the Lockhart Link Burger, which is their obligatory nod to the local cuisine to show you that they’re toooootally part of your community
  • the Chick’n Shack, for your friend that’s fine with eating animals, but not cows because that is just a bridge too far, and why are you still friends with this person?

I decide I’m going to get a double cheeseburger, for one because I’m afraid a single might not be enough, and I also don’t want the taste of this burger to be obscured by the triple jalapeño cheddar reindeer/goat/wild boar sausage that they put on the Lockhart burger.

Also, being the good customer that I am, I see that there is no “add cheese” option on the menu, because apparently no one has ever wanted cheese on a burger, so I make a note to ask specifically for cheese and blow the cashier’s mind!

After seven minutes in line (or about 3 hours and 23 minutes shorter than the typical Franklin BBQ line), I get to the cashier, and prepare to rock his world with my whole cheese on a burger thing.

CASHIER: So you want a cheeseburger then?

(Holy shit!!  They had a name for this thing all along??  How was I not aware of this before?  My whole life has changed!!)

ME: Hell yeah, gimme one of those!

CASHIER: You want Shake Sauce on that?

(What am I, a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal??  Of course I want it on there!  Don’t even tell me what it is, just slap it on, make it a double order for all I care!!  Ten billion customers can’t be wrong!)

ME: Sure, that sounds good.

THE WAIT

I then sidle up to one of those community tables, where all the people with no friends sit so the couples can have their own private space.

While I’m waiting, a couple guys sit down next to me, both of them lawyers.  And they’re talking about the 18 cases they’ve got, and as I’m taking pictures, one of them gives me a look.  And I know he’s saying it in his head.

“OOOH, look at you!  Are you one of those snarky food blogger people I heard about?  I bet you think you’re so big, you’ve probably got 113 people following you on Facebook, and you’re going to write things like “I would have preferred this burger if it was an 82/18 blend instead of 80/20, and the bun should have been an artisan brioche from Mrs. Foo-Foo-Stein’s Bakery instead of the mass-produced potato one they serve it on”.  Why don’t you take a picture of me snarling at you, I bet that would make your day!”

13 minutes later…

THE ARRIVAL

I have to say, this looks pretty damned awesome.  I’m going to have to work hard to snark on this.

THE BURGER ($8.69, I think, because I have no idea how much cheese was for this mysterious cheeseburger thing)

Look at it, the thing can’t even stand upright!  I’m already thinking a double might have been too much.

Decent amount of toppings, nothing overwhelming.

I took my first bite (I would have taken a picture after it to prove that I did take a first bite, but I didn’t want to grease up the phone)

Holy shit this is a really good burger!  It was pretty good sized, I’m thinking 6-8 ounces.  The meat was a perfect blend of beef and fat – this cow died with a purpose.  The edges were super crispy.  The bun was just right, it held everything together without getting in the way of the burger.

The toppings were fine, the pickles didn’t do much for it.  The onion was a pretty sharp white onion, but not strong enough to mess it up.  The Shake Sauce…I noticed nothing other than a mayo-like texture.  I would probably leave it off next time and just put a little ketchup and mustard on it.

I am definitely a fan.  At $8.69, it’s a little pricey, but it’s well beyond twice as good as any other fast food burger.

Then we get to…

THE FRIES ($2.99)

I like Ore-Ida crinkle-cut fries.  They’re a good fry.  Nothing special, but they’re a good fry.

I would not pay $2.99 for Ore-Ida fries in a restaurant that is supposedly going to change my life.

If they are going to use Ore-Ida fries, the least they could have done was ask Ore-Ida to make them look less like they were from Ore-Ida.

Or maybe Ore-Ida has only one machine that cuts their fries.

They were fine, they were Ore-Ida, they weren’t worth $2.99, let’s just leave it at that.

THE SHAKE ($5.79)

one

I’m not coming to a place called Shake Shack and not get a shake.  It’s like going to IHOP and not getting…P…

I’m not going to lie.  This is easily the best fast food shake I’ve ever had.  I got the holiday-themed chocolate peppermint shake.  If the holidays were as good as this shake, the world would be a far better place.

Thick, but not so thick that you can’t use a straw to drink/eat it.  Minty, but not overwhelming.  And at least a half cup of whipped cream on top.

For $5.79, it’s well worth the price.  It’s every bit as good as  you would get from a craft ice cream shop that’s at least $8-9.

THE VERDICT

My total bill was $18.37 after tax.  That’s a pretty hefty bill, but when you deduct the $3 or so for the Ore-Ida fries, it’s not quite as bad.  It’s also not the lightest food either – I think the burger and shake have about 1,600-1,800 calories between them.

For an every now and again meal, I’d totally do it.

But fuck their fries.  Seriously.

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