Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pilgrimage to the Shake Shack

All of our trips to New York City seem to revolve around the 3 F's - family, friends and food, and that's the way we like it!

At brunch, Jay recommended a NYC attraction I had never heard of - the Shake Shack - for dinner later on the day. Once Amanda told us that she had never tried the Shake Shack, and that the original Madison Square Park location was right around the corner from the Restoration Hardware store we wanted to check out, it was a done deal.

The thing about Shake Shack, which amusingly enough, you'll see on their website as well, is that it's known most for its lines. I think their burgers are a close second, but people that want to try Shake Shack know that they will need to stand in line.

So stand in line we did - the clock started for us at 2:50 p.m. Even though we weren't really hungry at that point, we figured the middle of the afternoon would help us miss the lunch crowds while avoiding the dinner rush.  Despite the fact that it was a chilly day, we were well bundled and ready for the wait:
Our goal - to reach the order window at the Shake Shack, an unassuming building surrounded by outside seating:
A look at the line in front of us (which curves even further outside the picture) - there were easily at least 50 people in front of us:
Thirty minutes in, we had made steady progress and were glad that we weren't at the end of the line:
Andrew and I seem to have a knack for spotting brides and grooms in interesting places - while we were in line, a bride and groom stopped by to take photos at the Snack Shack and I've got to give credit to the people in line, they let the happy couple cut the line to order a couple of sodas to pose with. Unfortunately, at this point Amanda and I were close to the order window and stuck between ropes herding us in place, so my best shot of the couple really just shows their photographer the best. Oh well.
Oh so close to the order window, around 50 minutes in. At this point, it was just Amanda and me in line. Andrew managed to snag a coveted table under one of the eight heat lamps, and was holding seats for us.
I have to say that the ordering process was a bit anticlimactic and happened so quickly. It was kind of funny, people kept leaving their places in line to run up to the menu to figure out what they wanted to order. This being the age of the iPhone, Amanda looked up the menu on the Shake Shack's website and we made our selections during the wait. Determined not to make a mistake in ordering once we actually made it up to the window, we kept repeating the order to each other to make sure we didn't forget a single thing (just imagine realizing that you forgot to order something and would have to wait again to get it - not happening!) Also, another random observation - the guy who took our order was really nice and seemed genuinely happy to be working at the Shake Shack, after he must have been well into his shift taking orders from cold and hungry people!

Amanda graciously poses for the victory shot - order submitted, beeper in hand and waiting patiently by the pickup window:
At last, success! The three of us seated at a table with a heat lamp, with our full order of food - it was still pretty chilly sitting there, so I can't imagine how cold the regular tables were. We each got a Shake Shack burger (American cheese, lettuce, tomato and Shake Shack sauce), french fries (cheese fries for me and Andrew), and a Concrete (a very thick mixture of their frozen custard and a mix-ins):
A money shot of the burgers - they were definitely hand-formed and delicious! I think it was definitely worth the wait to try them, although I don't think I'd have the patience to do it all the time:

Cheese fries - covered with a nice liquidy mixture of cheddar and American cheese (just the way I like it, none of the shredded stuff that hardens into clumps when it get cold):
I didn't bother taking a close-up shot of the Concretes because 1) I was too busy chowing down and 2) they were a bit messy looking but overall, I thought they were good if a bit too sweet. I was amazed at the quality of the mix-ins though, I'm talking huge chunks of cake or cookies.

Andrew got the Shack Attack with chocolate custard, hot fudge, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Valrhana chocolate chunks and topped with chocolate sprinkles. The chocolate custard was so rich that you could tell that it was quality stuff, but to be honest, I think all the chocolate together was a bit overwhelming and made it hard to appreciate each individual component. I'll admit I'm not a huge chocolate ice cream fan, but even Andrew seemed to find it a bit too much.

Amanda got the Concrete Jungle - vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas and peanut butter tasted really good, with the fresh banana shining through.

As for me? I did a custom order - vanilla custard, caramel, shortbread chunks and almonds - it was good but I think I would leave out the caramel next time since I couldn't taste it and the overall mixture was sweet enough with the vanilla custard. Again, the chunks of shortbread cookie were HUGE and I love the genious idea to have this available as a mix-in.

Although it may seem a bit crazy to wait this long in line for food, we had a great time doing it. The wait in line made for good people watching (in NYC, the best place to do it) plus anything is bound to taste 100x better after you've waited for it.

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