We make our first visit to Shake Shack halfway through our 10 days in the city. It’s mid afternoon when we get off at 23rd and 6th and we quickly get lost trying to find Madison Square Park.
We find our bearings and the park, and find the famous queue. It’s about 40 minutes long. We wait and wait and wait and finally reach the window. I order a Shack-cago Dog and a single Shackburger, Sinéad asks for a Shackburger without cheese, and we also get fries, a chocolate hand-spun shake and a fresh squeezed lemonade.
We take a seat in the park and wait some more, this time for our buzzer to buzz and alert us that it’s time to step over the border into Pleasureville.
Perfection comes quite close to describing the Shackburger. It comes in a little paper pouch, presumably to keep the goodness in. It is moist and juicy, the cheese drips everywhere, the bun is soon heavy with burger oozings. The colours are striking: bright green lettuce, vivid (and tasty) tomato, golden molten cheese. The beef is loose and feels almost mushy as I chew but not in a horrible way. It is gone in seconds and all that is left is Shack Sauce all over my fingers and an overwhelming feeling of joy. The Shack-cago Dog is next- it is thin and quite short as opposed to the gargantuan Frankfurters we have here. It is covered in onion and slathered in a pickle-heavy relish that is tangy and oddly sweet. Again, it gets demolished. There is room for only a few of the crinkle cut fries and they are crispy and dry and wonderful.
Our second visit was the day we were leaving: in fact, it was our last stop before the airport. Wanting to bow out on a high, I went for a Shackburger and a Double Shackburger. Afterwards I was bloated, I felt greasy and mildly unclean, and my arteries were loudly and noticeably furring. I was, to put it lightly, in heaven. It was the closest I have come to getting high off food. I was so full that the strawberry shake (not as amazing as the chocolate) lasted me all the way back to the hotel. I could not finish, it had to be abandoned.
I have thought of Shake Shack every day since I was there. It is the pinnacle of food. Perhaps I am building it up in my head to be more than it was because I’m unable to revisit, but even so, it was one of the best food experiences I have ever had. Burger Heaven, Meat Nirvana, Beef Valhalla. Unbeatable. One Million patties out of five!
And to think it almost never happened. We had originally wandered into Lebowski’s, having heard great things about their burger offerings. We were dismayed to hear that thanks to a super busy weekend they had no food left.
Thankfully that trauma led us to this: the best burger in Glasgow. It might even be the best burger I have ever had. On a lazy Sunday with no other remarkable moments, this was an explosion of taste: a stupendous, calorific joy. Is it strange for me to derive such pleasure from a hunk of meat? I don’t care, this sandwich brought me close to weeping with sheer gratification.
From the first bite my tongue was a dancefloor, an opium lounge, a den of iniquity. There was more flavour per square inch here than in any other burger I have experienced. The brioche (again) bun absorbed the juices without becoming soggy, which allowed me to polish off the entire package. The meat was incredibly tender and impeccably seasoned, the tomato juicy and fresh. Topping it off was a generous amount of bacon and oozing cheese, which you can just see on the right of the photo. I felt spoiled.
Afterwards, bloated and feeling rather spoiled, we emerged blinking into the chilly Argyle Street evening, wondering if such a feeling could be attained again. If it is possible, it will be difficult to find. 6 out of 5 patties.
The Bank is an old bank on Clarkston Road in the Southside. It used to be a bank and now it is a bar. Interesting story, eh? I bet the people who own it now reckon that with it being an old bank, that gives the building loads of character and suchlike. Even if that was true, it has been completely removed by the mismatching curtains and garish modern chandeliers that now make up the decor.
I must admit to cheating slightly with this one as only Sinead ordered a burger. Against my better judgement I went for Lamb meatballs with penne and tomato sauce. As is so often the case in life, the meatballs were fantastic but the pasta was so overcooked it was devoid of taste, and there was enough sauce to cover about 1/8th of the plate.
Sinead’s burger wasn’t amazing but it made me wish I had ordered differently. The meat was so loose the whole thing felt like it was going to fall apart. The bun was out of a packet, and it felt like the salad was too. Saying that, the burger was nicely seasoned and not a wholly unpleasant eating experience. The chips, on the other hand, were straight from the freezer and heated up to the minimum acceptable level. Pretty poor indeed: two and a half patties, if I’m being generous.
Crivens, how do I even begin to describe this beast? Just look at it. Look at that cheese oozing down the side. My arteries are quivering thinking about it.
It was, without doubt, one of the most satisfying burger experiences I’ve ever had. In my hungover state there was nothing on my mind other than getting a large amount of meat in me. Anyone who has ever experienced the same feeling will know the extreme pleasure that comes with stuffing your empty stomach with a juicy slab of beef: imagine that pleasure tenfold.
First of all, the bun: brioche, toasted, light and fluffy: almost croissant-esque in richness. It kind of crumbled in a delicious, buttery way with each bite. It was a joy. The patty was perfection. Honestly, I’m struggling to come up with a portrayal of how good it was. Juicy without being greasy, thick without being monstrous, cooked just on the line between rare and medium. This was a problem for Sinead and her phobia of anything that isn’t well done, but for me a couple of pink spots aren’t a huge deal.
The gruyère making it’s way slowly down the side was unreal. Like, phenomenally good. I felt bad eating it because it looked so good. Underneath the burger was fresh, flavoursome rocket salad and two plump, juicy tomato slices. I think there might have been a slice of gherkin in there too, but so much was I enjoying the experience I can’t remember. Let’s just say there was, it’ll make the memory complete.
The chips were less like chips and more like enormous wedges of potato. They came in this tiny wee bucket as well which was pure cute. I would have bumped one but everyone there was so sound I couldn’t have done that to them. I was happy to destroy the burger, devour every chip and write the rest of the day off to get over this glorious, unmitigated win. Five out of five patties!
I ordered a cheeseburger with pepperoni in place of bacon: in hindsight I don’t know why. It was just one of those menu options that seems appealing at the time. About halfway through, it struck me that it made the whole thing taste like a pepperoni pizza from The Bistro at 3am. Not a good thing, sadly. The burger itself was tasty and everything, but it suffered from super-greasiness. Before I had taken a bite, the bottom half of the (ciabatta, weird) bun had absorbed some of the grease which was forming in a pool on the plate. Ugh. It was topped with just lettuce and a single slice of tomato, which just seemed lazy. A pickle wouldn’t have gone amiss, if you know what I’m saying.
Sinead’s hamburger wasn’t much better: pure greasetown. The chips were a saving grace though; thick, chunky, fresh… they were fantastique.
Despite all it’s shortcomings, it wasn’t a burger I would go out of my way to avoid in future. There were pleasurable moments, but they were outweighed by careless shortcomings: the grease and pepperoni being the main ones. Fine if you’re around the Southside, but don’t go out of your way for one. Two and a half patties.