Friday, September 23, 2011

Shake Shack NYC (44th and 8th ave.)

My apologies for the long time between posts.  I know many of my faithful readers have been sick with anticipation for my next review, and y'all deserve better, hopefully my new work schedule will allow for more frequent food adventures, though I have to say the total lack of inspiration in New York taco makers has made it difficult to find something worth reporting on.  So, in hopes of finding a deeper satisfaction, I've decided to focus a little more on my hot dog fetish.  Let's take a look at Shake Shack, shall we?
Theater District Location, the one I visited.
 The problem I'm finding with New York is that, although it has the reputation of being a hot dog oriented city and there is a dirty water dog cart on just about every block, it's difficult to find a restaurants that actually features a hot dog.  As a back up, I've started to check out popular burger joints that happen to have dogs on the menu.
Shake Shack is a super-popular, expensive and over-hyped staple of the NY area.  It's a lot like In-n-Out Burger in California with similarly long lines and flavor, but with slightly larger menu variety.  Also, they sell beer.  
The line outside the midtown store during the first week of business
I just don't understand the hype of these type of spots.  They're corporate chains with run of the mill food made with so-so ingredients and, in the case of this establishment, it's over-priced.  Is the need for our familiarity and creature comforts so great that we can't appreciate all the much better mom and pop shops that have decently priced homemade food that is thick and juicy and delicious? Alright, before I become too self-righteous, here's my assessment of their dogs.

The Dog: 2/5
There is simply no excuse for the sorts of shenanigans Shake Shack is pulling on the good people of NY.  For all the hype, I can't believe what a disappointment the food was. Their burgers are quite tasty and have a high quality, but they don't put the same love into this woefully mistreated step-child of burger joints. They claim it's a chicago-style dog, split down the middle and griddled perfectly. In my dog's case, griddled perfectly meant served cold and placed normally in a soft and untoasted bun, though it was partly cut in half; but the way they cut it didn't change the poor bun/dog ratio, it didn't change it at all, in fact.  Stupid hot dog. Nice potato bun though, very tasty. But stupid hot dog.

A sample dog.  As you can see: Meh.
What I will give them, and the only thing taking the rating up to a 2/5 is that they provide a number of different options, which I appreciate since I grew up with a bunch of hippies and picky eaters that insist on non-beef options for their hot dogs.  They've got the Bird Dod (made of chicken), and the Garden Dog, which isn't really a dog at all, just the bun with a bunch of toppings on it. This is also the In-n-Out solution for vegetarians, but with Shake Shack not only is it lame, it's unoriginal. Stick with the burgers.

Acoutrement: 3/5
 Okay okay, they do have a lot of toppings, more than usual in fact, though my personal experience was ruined a little by a 'plain' hot dog that was covered in a mountain of sauerkraut.  They claim to have a chicago style dog, which means it's usually got relish, onion, tomato, mustard, cucumber, pickle.  Apparently they also have more exotic toppings on occasion at other locations, but I didn't see it.  Mayo wouldn't have killed them though.

Value: 2/5
$3.50 for a hot dog with just kraut.  If I can get the same or better on the street, it's definitely not a good deal.  Even the organic hot dog place sells it for the same or cheaper and you can get an all-beef properly griddled sausage from most halal carts for $2, so a good value this is not.

As you can see, they have other things.
Other: 3/5
Most everything else here is pretty good, but the lines are long and the place is always packed. I seriously can't tell you why, I'd rather eat at a food cart just about any day instead.  They do have beer. And milkshakes.  That's why it's called Shake Shack. The above review is why it's not called Hot Dog Shack.

It just...wasn't good.  Getting served cold was the really big disappointment.  I mean, I know they get busy and all, but if you can't take the time to cook your food things have got to change.  The lines are just silly, especially since they trail outside and down the block.  Their other food is good, just over-priced and over-hyped, and the hot dog sucks.  And now you know, and knowing is half the battle.