Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not Quite the Harlem Shake, but the UWS Shake- Shack that is.

After all the shit I talk about the Shake Shack- that they make the perfect burger and nothing beats drinking a beer and enjoying their food in Madison Square Park- you would think I'd have been camping out for the opening of the Upper West Side branch. The intentions were there, just not the actions.

That changed last week as I stepped into the indoor version of burger bliss according to Howfresh. And I'm a bit disappointed. It wasn't what I expected. Maybe my expectations were too high. I don't know. Maybe I was trying to duplicate all the enjoyable times I waited on line for an hour while drinking a beer and chilling with Roscoe Conkling. But there is no Roscoe at the new spot. And it's indoors. And the area is tighter. I'm not trying to complain, because I live much closer to the UWS branch, thus making the trip much easier, but it just lacked something. Maybe because I'm a summer dude, though I'm a winter baby.

I'll discuss the food shortly, but let me get to the bottom of my displeasure first. I think that SS is perfect summer food, or better yet, outdoors food. Just on some outdoor grilling steez. A quick burger, a dog, fries, a black and white shake, a beer. Just enjoying the park. Enjoying NYC. The freedom. The trees. The weirdos. The people watching. The sparrows cooling off in the dirt and trying to find some grub. The list goes on and on. But you catch my drift. I'm not saying the food isn't top notch, but it's the setting that further embellishes the entire experience. And once you're indoors and confined to the area, it's a different ball game.

Putting aside the atmosphere for a second, I will try to objectively give my opinion about what was consumed. Like usual I copped a Shack Burger, a Bird Dog, fries, and a black and white milk shake. Also had a Shackmeister Ale made by the Brooklyn Brewery while waiting on line.

Full disclosure, the Shack Burger is one of the top 5 burgers out there. Always cooked medium, unless specified, and moist and tasty. Aoooow. This was the first time the burger was slightly dry. Still a delicious burger with meat provided by Pat La Frieda Wholesale Meats (maker of the newly available Black Label burger- review to come very shortly) but this was the first time I could tell something was different. And this is after eating 10-15 of these. Maybe the grill's stronger and the staff is still learning the equipment. Until I return I just won't know.

The bird dog, a chicken and apple smoked sausage, brought me back to summer in the city. Smoky and a little sweet with a casing that snaps. Shit is delicious. Don't do it Chicago style, keep it simple, stupid. The fries are enjoyable, not memorable. It's worth getting one order for the table so you can go in on the protein. That deserves a pause. FYI- if you order a New York Dog, it comes with sauerkraut, as shown above. That isn't stated on the menu.

Being familiar with the Museum of Natural History area, it was odd to see Shake Shack situated across Columbus Ave. Though the location has always housed a restaurant, it caught me off guard when I saw the new SS for the first time. You know things for how they are and change from the norm can screw up the mentals. Anyway, once entering, the tables are to the right along the Columbus Ave. sidewalk and the counter and waiting area is straight ahead. There are around 4 or so picnic-like tables where you can meet Turkish women via Britain, and smaller 2-4 seaters along the windows. There is additional seating downstairs.

I might be on my hibernation this winter, and just hit Madison Square Park when spring returns. However, if a Shack Attack occurs, it's comforting to know that I can hop on the 1 to get my fix.

Shake Shack
366 Columbus Ave., NW corner of 77th St.
New York, NY 10024
(646) 747-8770
7 days a week- 10:45 am - 11 pm


P-Matik said...

Man Howie, I went out to that Shake Shack a month ago. I had the veggie burger, fries, and a shake. Wasn't impressed. If I went to the one downtown and stood in line for that, I might have had to knock out whoever was behind me out of frustration.

P-Matik said...

You come down here and I'll take you to Ben's Chili Bowl. Cop you a half smoke and some chili cheese fries. Come out the spot smelling like grease. That's the rill that pwns everything.

buckemdown said...

Haven't been the UWS jump-off yet, but I can definitely feel you on the experiential effect. I have only been to Madison Park, and by no means am I a connoiseaur, but I'd have to say it is one of the best burgers I've ever had. When the spring fever hits - birds chirpin', Allen leering at chicks sunbathing - it'll be back on in the park again.

HowFresh said...

P-Matik, I feel your anger, but then again I might be angry if I was on the veggie diet- not vegan though. I'm know the shack burger beats the veggie burger into submission.

Ben's Chili Bowl it is. But we going bowl for bowl. Let's do this.

Buck- true story. Wait till the birds start chirping, and we back in bizness.

Allen said...

The shack is all about being in the sun, enjoying the park and eating some good food. Waiting in line is only worthwhile when you're outside on a nice day/night. Where else do you get to drink beer in public in NY?

Leering, gazing, admiring, enjoying, staring . . . whatever. Just get those shades on and nobody has to know.