Monday, August 22, 2011

Shake Shack

This year has been marked by a influx of new establishments from outside the tri-state area. A number of these new restaurant chains have been imported from New York City who are on top when it comes to culinary excellence. One of the most prominent restaurants is Shake Shack, a fast food burger shop that has grown a cult following in the big apple.

Shake Shack was born in Madison Square Park in 2004 and immediately gained fame and success. It's countless awards and accolades have made it a mainstay in NYC so much so that people line out the restaurant waiting for their daily helping. Known for their renowned burgers, hot dogs and shakes Shake Shack decided to expand their talents outside of NYC and here into the District which is slowly becoming a burger Mecca.

Being a burger enthusiast and soon to be connoisseur I decided to sample this holy burger. I foolishly tried to visit on the first day and was greeted by a line exiting the door and finishing at the end of the block. I quickly decided to postpone my plans for another day in hopes of escaping the wait. I waited a week for the crowds to die down and was pleasantly surprised that my plan worked.

I walked in the door and took a quick glance at the colossal menu that lines the wall. I decided to order their Shack Stack which consists of a cheeseburger which comes with lettuce, tomatoes and fried portobello filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheese all topped with their shack sauce. I also ordered french fries and a soda which all cost around $13 which is a hefty sum for fast food. . At that point I took my seat and waited with my friend in anticipation to confirm the hype.

(Shack Stack, French Fries & Soda)

Once our meal was ready and in front of us we both began the journey through burger paradise. My initial reaction was that the burger was average, the meat was juicy and full of flavor, the bun was as soft as butter and the portobello offered a very interesting flavor combination. You could immediately tell that the ingredients were very fresh but they did not blend as well as other burgers I have had. The fries were crispy which was a big plus but needed some more seasoning.

All I my first experience left me feeling a bit robbed. Sure the meal was good but the hype built behind it inflated my expectations. I was also a bit upset with my overall portions. Every aspect of the meal was small, but this thought may be due to me experiencing US portions and being a bit disillusioned on what may be a standard size meal.

What I believe separates my blog from others is that I am more comprehensive. I know that one experience cannot shape a formal opinion so I sample places multiple times. My second visit came with my sister in order to gauge a better reading on the quality of this burger.

(Shack-cago Dog, Cheese Fries & Washington Monu-Mint)

We decided to order a number of items and share our meals. Together we ordered another Shack Stack, French Fries topped with cheese, a Shack-cago Dog, and a Washington Monu-Mint. The Shack-cago dog consists of a Vienna all-beef hot dog, relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomatoes, pepper, and mustard. The Washington Monu-Mint is one of their unique Custard concoctions which is comprised of a chocolate custard base topped with minted marshmallow and chocolate cookie dough.

My second helping of the Shack Stack was a bit more pleasant. I seemed to have a greater appreciation for the flavor combinations which elevated it's standing in my overall ranking of top burgers. The Shack-cago dog received high marks as well. The flavor combinations proudly justified the name and reminded me of the brats that I tasted in Chicago. The custard was also very good but I could not find the room to finish or appreciate it to the fullest extent.

I left with an elevated level of appreciation for this establishment. While I will not say it is the best burger in the city it is certainly not the worst. Is it overrated? Yes I believe so, the amount of hype behind the shakes and the burgers does not match the utility or pleasure that I gain from eating on of their meals.

I do however recommend this to any burger lover. While the prices are high it is DC so you should expect that by now. In the three additional times I have been here the crowd size is mixed so I cannot give an accurate description on how long the wait is but it should not be nearly as big as it initially was. They also have another branch in the Washington Nationals stadium which always has a gargantuan line, probably because it is the best food option.

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