Madison Square Park, NYC
I am not sure that there is a point in reviewing the Shake Shack now. It has become such an NYC culinary landmark that everyone already has a firm opinion on it, ranging from legendary to ridiculously overrated. I definitely fall into the former category, although I love it slightly more in concept than reality. Having a high quality “fast food” burger place in the middle of a formerly shitty park is pure genius. Danny Meyer is a god compared to other restaurant tycoons such as Jean George and Joe Bastainich. He’ll give you a Union Sqaure and Eleven Madison, BUT will also elevate burgers and shakes to an extraordinary level for the everyday $10 lunch. I can’t get into a Babbo or Jean George, even if I wanted to spend $120 on my dinner. But I can grab a gourmet sausage or Shack Burger at the Shake Shack in CitiField or a gourmet lite bite at the new stand by the Delicourt Theater in Central Park. Yes, it is not the authentic hole-in-the-wall that has survived for 75 years making Grandma’s original recipe, but it does not discriminate either. Plus the frozen custards and shakes are undeniably great. People can debate the merits of the burger size and taste all day, but this golden shack has done quite a bit to open up NYC’s cheap eats landscape and has transformed a prime piece of green space, that I used to refer to as “toilet park”, into a destination that contains 90 minute lines. The absurdity of waiting 90 minutes for a burger and shake is another issue, but so is the same wait time for a $200 meal of minuscule portions in an overstuffed and overly stuffy box. Face it, Danny Meyer is The Man. End of discussion.
Note: I won’t support the UWS location. While I am sure the food is just as good, the Shack is an open air only experience for me.