Ah, summer love--so intense, so exciting, and yet, so fleeting. Perhaps that’s part of the thrill. But now that it’s autumn, I have to say good-bye to my summertime fling, the Shake Shack Double Shack Burger. I enjoyed those late-night rendezvous when it was just the Double Shack and me, no huge crowds of people also vying for its deliciousness. Yes, the long lines for Shake Shack are legion, but its popularity is well deserved: how can you not love thick and juicy well-seasoned meat, fresh green lettuce, bright flavorful tomatoes, oozing American cheese, all sandwiched between a perfectly proportioned potato bun. Shake Shack had me at first bite.
But as good as the Double Shack may be, I think the real reason I fell so hard was because it reminded me of a taste of home. There was something in the peppery meat and perfect balance that made me swoon. And even though the two are completely different feasts, something about the Double Shack reminded me of my first burger love—Whatburger.
I can’t get Whataburger in NYC, the company hasn’t expanded that far North. But for a fast-food burger, it somehow always tastes fresh and special. Perhaps because it’s made to order, on a grill with nary a microwave in sight. And they spice the meat at Whataburger, giving it a deliciousness not found in many other places.
I’ve enjoyed my summertime eating at the Shake Shack. For the cooler months, however, I’ve found a satisfying substitute—the Chelsea Gallery burger. It’s a diner burger, but rises above mediocrity with excellent beef cooked to order. They also provide fresh veggies and while the sesame bun isn’t perfect, it holds the whole sandwich together, no mean feat with a juicy, overstuffed burger.
Recently, many chefs have tried to outdo themselves with towering creations crafted from Wagyu or Kobe beef, stuffed with fois gras or bone marrow, but for me, just keep it simple: good beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato and bun. A burger doesn't need anything more.
Are you a Shake Shack fan? What's your dream burger?
Friday, September 29, 2006