Restaurant Review: Shake Shack, New York City

By Paul Riegler on 2 October 2018
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My colleagues speak of the time that restaurateur Danny Meyer set up a hot-dog cart in Madison Square Park in 2001, when our offices were at the north end of the park, and when the very first Shake Shack’s slant-roofed kiosk opened in the park in 2004 with great reverence.

Shake Shack had somehow become one of the city’s most influential restaurants at the time, a harbinger of the better burger places that were to come, not only in New York but across the country. Today there are almost 30 in the region.

The restaurant took what was perhaps the most common of all fares, the fast-food burger, and elevated it to a fine-dining experience.

In the years since I joined Accura Media Group, Frequent Business Traveler’s parent, I had apparently been missing out and I took the opportunity of a recent visit to New York to rectify the situation.

My guide on this tour was FBT Editorial Director Jonathan Spira and we walked over to the Shake Shack outpost on Third Avenue in the 40s. Upon entering, one thing was missing, my erstwhile editor told me, namely the line. Lines are an intrinsic part of the Shake Shack experience. He waxed poetically about waiting in line when the Shack first opened in near-freezing temperatures, a line that seemed to be self-replenishing no matter the time of day.

The line, Mr. Spira explained to me, is as democratic an institution as a Munich Biergarten. Everyone queues up and waits. But alas, there was none, and here were high-tech kiosks to boot. Where was everyone, I wondered?

We placed our order. A Shack Burger for me, a SmokeShack for him. Fries for us to split. A black & white shake, rich and thick, for us to share as well.

The classic ShackBurger is a burger topped with fresh lettuce and tomato to which the restaurant’s secret and rather tangy ShackSauce is added. It was a wonderful piece of ground beef that stood up well to the crispy lettuce and tomato as well as to the soft Martin’s potato roll.

Shake Shack reportedly blends 25% brisket with 75% chuck to create its great tasting burgers although the source of the restaurant’s beef, Pat LaFrieda, has vowed that the secret will die with him. We do know that each patty gets a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper, is then seared on a hot griddle and then smashed with a spatula.

The shake was a masterpiece, smooth and so stiff the straw stood upright in the glass.

The SmokeShack, my dining companion reported, was extremely satisfying, a double cheeseburger topped with applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper and that wonderfully tangy ShackSauce.


Shake Shack
600 Third Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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