Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Following my carnivorous week out west I made a deal with myself not to eat meat for 10 days. You know, let all that protein digest, and then start anew. Everything went according to plan until I had Saturday morning visions of Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. I took it as an omen and got my ass down there immediately. And on some Groundhog's Day ish, I repeated it on Sunday.
For those of you that have never been, be aware that the line is long. Like an hour long. That was about the total time spent each day lining up, ordering, and waiting for the food. But it's worth it. And if you're with friends, or somebody that's capable of holding half a convo, the time flies. You're outdoors, so it's easy to get distracted by all the passer-bys and whatever else is around. There are several menus placed along the line so that you're decided once you get to the window. Click on the image for a better view.
Shake Shack is located in the SE corner of the park- Madison and 23rd. Part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, the menu is very concise serving several takes on burgers and hot dogs, along with shakes and ice cream. They also serve fries and a variety of beverages, beer being one of them.
On Saturday I ordered the Shack Burger with a Second City Bird-Wurst, a smoked chicken and apple bratwurst served Chicago style, i.e. with pepper, tomato, pickle, relish and some other toppings on a poppy seed bun. I know the shit sounds weird, but trust me- very good.
The Shack Burger consists of a freshly ground patty, around 5 oz., cooked medium, with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and shack sauce- mayo based- similar to that on the Whopper. It's one of the best burgers I've had. Served on a soft seedless bun, the juicy patty tastes extremely fresh and makes for a very easy eating experience. You can easily eat it with your left hand and let the right do a variety of other things.
I never had a chicken/apple sausage before, but figured if the Shack was serving it, it would be of a high standard, and most probably on point. I was correct. I'm not used to Chi-town style dogs. My preference is a grilled Hebrew National with ketchup and mustard. Sauerkraut and sweet onions on occasion. The idea of having all these vegetables on the dog doesn't make much sense, but after having it, I can see why it's popular. The different textures along with the sweetness of the tomato and the heat from the pepper create an enjoyable gastronomic adventure. It's not that crazy, but you get the point. The sausage was pretty mellow- not as garlicky as a regular dog. The little pieces of apple added slight sweetness. The only complaint is that all the shit falls off and you need to keep placing the veggies on the dog repeatedly. At least I did. And the bun tore pretty quickly.
Houston Paul had the Flat Top Dog- on some Kid & Play steez. It's a Vienna all-beef dog butterflied and griddled, then topped with caramelized onions and cheese sauce. He said it was dope and I believe him. I don't do the cheese thing on dogs. And honestly, it kind of fucks me up. Maybe the non-kosherness of it, or the busyness of it- whichever, I'm not with it.
The following day, along with a Shack Burger, I had the Shack-Cago Dog, which is the same as the Bird Wurst, but uses a Vienna all-beef hot dog instead. This is the traditional Chi-town jumpoff, and it's serious. Very serious. I liked the chicken sausage, but the beef is where it's at. The dog has great snap and great flavor. No pics for this one. Doggie was kind of shy.
Had fries both days- with cheese on Sat. and without on Sun. The fries were consistent both times, having a nice golden hue, crispy on the outside with warm soft potato on the inside. Half the time I feel that fries are an after thought with the burger or dog, but here they are a must order.
A black and white (chocolate & vanilla) shake along with an Amstel accompanied the meal on Saturday- the shake was super thick, but delicious, and an Arnold Palmer washed down Sunday's meal. I usually don't fuck with unsweetened iced tea, which is what SS serves, but with the sweet lemonade, the combo worked.
If I worked or lived around the park I'd be there on the regular. It's food you can't get bored of and the quality appears to always be of a high caliber. If waiting on lines isn't your thing, peep their web site where you can view the live shack cam. True story. Do some recon for a day or so to see which times are sparse, and attack. The 11am to 11pm hours provide a 12 hour window for you to get your fix. The park is cool too. A lot of monuments and historical references- check it out. Roscoe Conkling is watching you.
Madison Square Park- SE corner
11am - 11pm
N, R, or 6 to 23rd Street