This past Wednesday, May 20, 2009, I (Jason) met up with some of the NYC burger heavyweights at Shake Shack to grab a burger. Included in the group were Rev, Jackie and Paul from Burger Conquest, Adam and Robyn from A Hamburger Today, and Kenji from Good Eater. We were also hoping for the company of Hamburger America, The Feedbag, and Beef Aficionado, but unfortunately they were not able to make it. Hopefully the first of many such meetings - the next is planned for Trailer Park, date not yet known.
Well, those of you who listened to my audio segment on the New York Times website know that I was not a fan of the Shake Shack burger. In fact, after my first and last visit in July 2006, I did not feel I ever had reason to return. It took an event like this one to bring me back - and kudos to Rev for making it happen because the burger was certainly more enjoyable this time. My full review of the burger can be found here.
We arrived at Shake Shack at 1:15 hoping to avoid their infamous line. Mission NOT accomplished. The line wrapped half-way around the park. There had to be 200 people in front of me when I got there. It took nearly an hour to get through the line, and dare I say there are few burgers in the world worth that kind of wait. The company was good, however, as we took the time to get to know each other a bit. Interesting exchange of stories about how we each got started in burgers - and jealous to learn that this is a full time job for Adam and Robyn (man, I want their life). When we finally reached the front of the line, I ordered my Double Shake Burger (two medium size patties, American Cheese, lettuce, onions, and Shake Sauce - I did not have the tomato). I also ordered fries which are sold seperately - old school ridged fries. Paid for the burger and was handed a buzzer that buzzes when your order is ready - another 10 minutes.
The park was packed, but we were lucky to get a table suitable for the seven of us. As we all sat down, I became immediately aware that I was the only one without a camera. It was abundently clear that I was the rookie at the table. I was half way finished with my burger, when they finished taking pictures of theirs. They even took pictures of each other taking pictrures. It was an awesome display of photography which did not go unnoticed by the folks at other tables.
The lunch consisted of enjoyable burger and steak banter (Rev is also a member of a steak club - SC7). Any conversation surrounding meat is ok by me - and it was easy conversation. About half way through my burger it occurred to me that I was actually enjoying the burger. This came as quite a suprise to me given my past experience. Don't get me worng - I still do not believe this is one of the best burgers in the City, and certainly falls short of its huge reputation. But, if you can manage to find a time to have this burger when the line is something less than half-a-mile long, it is worth a try.
Total wait time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total picture taking time: 15 minutes
Total eating time: 7 mintues
Oveerall experience: Timeless (sorry - could not resist the cheesy pun)
Check out these tags - more blogs about the lunch: