March 22, 2006

Hamburger Nirvana

a haiku to my dear Shake Shack:

in the sunny months
your beefy, juicy burgers
make life worth living

It's been open for two days and I've eaten there twice. The people behind the counter recognize me. The Shake Shack was one of my favorite things about working on Park Ave. South. I loved being close to the most succulent, crispy, salty, beefy, perfectly-assembled hamburgers I'd ever eaten (if you didn't factor in the 40 minute wait).

My shacksperience was a bit different on Monday; when I'd read news of an early, unannounced opening, so I made the requisite phone calls and hightailed it down to Madison Square Park in order to get my fix. It had been such a long cold winter without the Shack. Marc met me and we got our usual - single shack burger with fries (no drink for me). The only major difference was the weather. It was so so cold that our hands were numb by the time we finished. But it was so worth it.

There's always the single/double dilemma. Marc and I always argue, nay, discuss the merits of the meatalicious double shack burger verses the more balanced single. I'm a flip-flopper on the subject though I suppose I should just hunker down and decide once and for all. I suppose the single, with its sublime marriage of lettuce, tomato, American cheese and secret shack sauce achieves Shake Shack in its purist state (that and you can use the $2 you saved to get some crispy fries). But the juicy, tender brisket/sirloin mix in the burgers are the whole point of the Shack so why not get the double? You see our problem.

Last night I attempted to have a grand shake shack party, alas all but two of the invitees were unwilling to brave the relative cold. I mean how can you choose warmth over one of the best (if not the best) NYC hamburger experience? Personal comfort or supreme fulfillment. Sigh.

Anyway, Meg and Lyssa were hearty enough to come and they were rewarded, yea verily. I was finally able to tear myself away from the shack burger (well, not entirely true - I had a shack burger AND the Second City Bird-wurst). The bird-wurst, smoked chicken and apple wurst in Chicago clothing, dragged through the garden with lettuce, tomato, sport peppers, green peppers, pickles, onion, neon relish, cucumber, celery salt and mustard, was cold by the time I got to it and I'd give it a solid okay. If it were warm it may have held a candle to the hamburger, but chilly it was just a little better than a hotdog. The pickled peppers were a bit much for me, too. The tart/sweet/spiciness of them made me gag (which shocked Lyssa, who'd never seen me recoil at food before. To be fair [to me] I'd picked one of the pickled peppers off and was eating it alone to see what it tasted like - it squirted gross sweet/spicy juice down my throat. Gross. It did taste best on the wurst, for all it's worth).

Next time: The Shack Stack. A trifecta of burger, shack burger, and 'shroom burger (on one bun?). Too much of a good thing never sounded so ... good.

The Shake Shack, for the uninitiated, is an open-air hamburger stand in the southeast corner of Madison Square Park (23rd st. and Madison Ave.). For obvious reasons it closes during the winter months (December to March). If you try to go near lunchtime 11:30-1:30 you should expect a 45 minute wait.

And now for something completely terrifying: a hamburger between two glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

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