Shake Shack: Five Guys Meyer-ized

Some years ago, when my wife and I were visiting New York, we decided to do what the natives do -- which at the time meant standing in a lengthy line for 30 minutes in order to purchase cupcakes. They weren't bad, but I recall turning to my wife afterward and remarking that, when all was said and done, "it's just a fucking cupcake."

So when I read that Shake Shack, the Danny Meyer-owned burger joint from New York, was moving into Lincoln Road, and read further that folks regularly queue up for an hour to get in, I was more than a little skeptical. Plus I started thinking about moving to the Big Apple and opening a Fluffernutter emporium, as it occurs to me that the poor, bored folks of that metropolis will wait in line for any amount of time and will gladly part with their hard-earned cash for any foodstuff that reminds them in any way of their childhood. We'll serve $8 egg creams too.

But back to the Shack, where I joined a "Friends and Family" giveaway
promotion that was mostly packed with "freeloaders." I freeloaded a
signature double ShackBurger, which is like the regular burger but,
um, two patties instead of one, and it automatically comes with
lettuce, tomato, melted American cheese, and the indefinable "ShackSauce." The regular, non-Shack burger comes bare, without even lettuce
and tomato unless you request some. That's strange, no? Anyway, the
burgers here, which automatically come cooked medium, reminded me of
the Five Guys burger -- with just a little more natural beef flavor
coming through due to less seasoning. The beef is Black Angus, no
hormones, no antibiotics. Like that cupcake, not bad, but I'm not sure
what all the excitement is about.

I'm pretty sure it's not about the French fries -- crisp crinkle-cuts
made from Yukon Gold. They were tasty but not enough potato filling
within the outer fried crust; I like Five Guys fries better.

Loved the Shake Shack Fair Shake, a "hand-spun" vanilla base flavored
with organic Arabica Fair Trade coffee. Had I paid for these three
items, it would have come to $16. The double-burger (which, beef-wise,
was like a regular single non-fast-food burger) and fries alone would
have been $10 -- maybe not a bargain, but less than you'd spend at most
Lincoln Road restaurants. And I should add that I like Five Guys, so
the comparison isn't meant as a put-down. The Shake Shack burger is a
welcome culinary addition to Lincoln Road. I just won't wait in
line for one.

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