Monday, August 8, 2011

Shake Shack at the Track

I finally got to the Shake Shack up at the Track (Saratoga) the other day. I avoid NYC like the plague, so I have never actually had a Shack Burger before. People make much of the place (it has a Shack Cam to monitor the line at one of the NYC locations) and it supposedly has a burger mystique a la In and Out burger or any of the other usual suspects from the line up of storied burger chains. I am always a little suspicious of people's claims about the ethereal quality of some joint's burgers (except White Castle because those claims are actually true), so I didn't build up too much anticipation.

My compatriots and I ordered up a bunch of "Shack Burgers" and some fries. It was very, very hot on that day so I decided to not dump a milk based beverage down my already alcohol soaked gullet. Trying one of their shakes will have to wait for another occasion. The burgers are about 5 bucks, I can't remember (reference previous comment regarding alcohol consumption). They come in wax paper which I like. I have a thing for wax paper, ask the wife. If I am making her a sandwich for work or something, then it is getting wrapped in wax paper (Saran Wrap be damned, I hate you).

The Shack burgers are comprised of a beef patty, lettuce, tomato, and "Shack Sauce."

Not bad, not bad. The bun was OK I think, nothing stands out in my booze addled memory so it couldn't have been especially spectacular. The lettuce was fresh and the thick sliced tomato was nice. I kind of liked the Shack Sauce too. It was a fairly thin, Mayo based concoction with a hint of sour and a bit of a spicy kick. It definitely wasn't just lame Thousand Island dressing. I am thinking mayo with vinegar (maybe lemon juice) and some cayenne, would have to research it more.

The burger patty itself stood out the most, as well it should I guess. The thing had an absolutely wonderful crusty sort of texture. The patty was almost crispy, a perfect example of a griddle burger. Burgers are a textural experience in my mind, and this one was fairly harmonious. Thoroughly enjoyable. I would not wait in line for hours for one, but there isn't really much in this world that I would wait in line for (except maybe if I was asked to by Giblet or Mrs. Dave) so I wouldn't view this as disparaging towards the Shack product. These are very good burgers, on par or maybe a bit better then a Five Guys.

Also of note is that Shake Shack serves crinkle cut french fries. I am somewhat of a crinkle cut french fry maniac so I was pleased to discover this. Here is a specimen.

I was not overly impressed with the fries. My Platonic ideal of an order of crinkle cut french fries comes from Jack's Diner on Central, in a grease speckled paper bag (to go), circa 1988, with my Dad. Those bad boys used to be something to behold, a miracle of crispness mixed with a pleasing, greasy sogginess. Shake Shack's fries cannot compare. They were almost too crispy if that makes any sense, a little fake-y if you will. I heard no complaints from the rest of rowdy crew, so they weren't necessarily bad. I am just being picky.

So yeah, verdict is that Shake Shack is pretty good. Not really destination food in my book, but if I am in the neighborhood and the line is short, then I am probably going to get a Shack Burger. Mrs. Dave really liked them too and she is a pretty tough customer.


  1. You know, it's not called the Burger Shack. Their shakes are really very good. I thought better than the burger.

    But apparently I got a bum burger the time I visited an outpost in NYC. So I've promised to go back.

    Wish I could go back to Jack's with you circa 1988. Those fries sound great. Jack's on Central isn't the same since the newest owners took charge. At least I've got Dan's Place II and Dewey's to get me through.

  2. Over at Serious Eats, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt reported that the sour note in the Shack sauce comes pickles that are blended in. (He deconstructed a whole Shack burger.)

  3. I too share the same standpoint as you, Mr. Dave. Burgers = awesome. A double is even more heavenly than a single.

    The bun's fine, but nothing to "OMG!! BEST EVARZ" like a lot of teh intarwebz seem to indicate.

    Really didn't like the fries. Like, at all. But that just leaves more room for burgers.

  4. as a vegetarian, fries are the essential key to whether i consider a fast food joint as worthy or unworthy. i like a good waffle cut (chik-fil-a is the one fast food place that makes me regret being a veggie), curly fries (haven't been in years, but i seem to recall that both tom wahls and arbys make great curlies), or if i am making them myself, skinny shoestrings so thin they almost become chips, covered in garlic and parm for marinara dipping. someday i wanna get my hands on some deep-fried pickles...


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