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Shake Shack: The Review

After months of anticipation, burger chain Shake Shack opened its Westport location in mid-July.

The Shake Shack concept was developed by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, which owns and operates New York City fine dining restaurants. The first Shack opened in Madison Square Park in 2004, and has since expanded to eleven other locations, including others in New York City, upstate New York, Washington, D.C., Florida, as well as in Dubai and Kuwait.

The suburban Westport opening marked the first modern-day “roadside” burger stand for the company.

Having been to Shake Shack several times in New York, to say that I was looking forward to the Shack’s arrival inWestport is like saying that Johnny Drama from “Entourage” would like a role in your next movie.

I hoped and prayed that when the Shack arrived in Westport, it would live up to the experiences I had at the locations inNew York City.

Suffice to say, parking at the Shack sucks. The parking lot is very, very tiny and very, very difficult to drive through, and I had to compete with someone else for a spot.

Sadly, the woman who I defeated would later back into the bumper of an innocent Range Rover and never make it into the Shack. Not fun.

But when I walked up the steps to the outdoor patio on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon, I felt much more comfortable.

The sun beat down on me, but the entrance is air-conditioned, and an occasional breeze blew out. There were parents meandering around the patio with their laughing kids on their shoulders.

The line was surprisingly not that long for a weekend afternoon. I’ve seen it snake out through the entrance, across the patio, and down to the parking lot before, but this time, it ended at the doorway.

The 15 minutes I waited to order was considerably shorter than the 35 minutes

I’ve spent in line before, and since the line was short, but the dining room was packed, I assumed the wait for food would be quick, too.

And yet, I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Although it was thankfully easy to find a table, 20 minutes is a long time to wait for fast food.

By the time my restaurant buzzer rang, the line that was short when I arrived had slithered all the way down to the parking lot and around the corner.

I have been both extremely pleased and extremely disappointed with a ShackBurger, mostly due to the sometimes chill temperature of it.

 It doesn’t matter how organic and fresh and amazing the ingredients are on any burger; if it’s cold, I’m out.

The sharpness of the perfectly melted American cheese blended flawlessly with the proprietary mix of beef in the patty.

The subtle crunch from both the fresh green leaf lettuce and plum tomato, and the creamy tanginess from the mysterious Shack Sauce; it all comes together for what I may forever call the best burger I’ve had.

I was told the New York Dog was the best to choose from the list of four flat-top dogs that Shake Shack offers, and I was definitely not let down.

The hot dog itself was split down the middle and griddled until it was crisp on both sides, and then placed in a potato bun with Scholler & Weber sauerkraut.

Although there was too much bun in the bun-to-dog proportion, which created an unnecessary doughiness, the crunchiness from both the sauerkraut and the hot dog complemented each other, and the kraut added a really nice tang to it.

Obviously, you can’t call a burger joint Shake Shack without having great shakes. And I mean just that.

I ordered the black and white, which is a mix of the Shack’s vanilla and chocolate shakes, and I have to say, hands-down: best milkshake ever. The chocolate to vanilla ratio was way out of balance, leaning more toward the chocolate side, but that’s something you certainly won’t ever find me quibbling about. It was obviously chocolate-y and vanilla-y, but there was also a hint of nuttiness to it. It was so creamy it was almost like a chocolate-vanilla froth.

Shake Shack also offers what they call “concretes,” which, according to the menu, is “dense frozen custard blended at high speed with toppings and mix-ins.”

I ordered the Sasco ‘Crete(a nod to the Westport/Southport area), which is vanilla custard with a mixture of seasonal locally baked pie (from Michele’s Pies downtown!); I also added a mix-in of shortbread cookie.

For my palate, it was too sweet. Both the pie and custard tasted fresh, but the dish as a whole was cloying. Definitely add the shortbread to whatever concrete you order, though; it was buttery, crunchy, and actually my favorite part of the concrete.

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Ben Reiser
Ben Reiser, Managing Editor

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