The Slow and Savory Review
*We would like to apologize for the quality of photographs in this post, which is below our usual standard. Normal service will be restored next week.
Le Pain Quotidien from Brussels, Nando's from South Africa, and Pret a Manger from England have even ushered in chains from other states, like Snap Kitchen from Texas, Sonic from the west coast, and most recently New York's Shake Shack. Brandy first caught wind of the buzz around Shake Shack last year when their first location opened up in River North, causing lines around the block of Midwesterners and East coast transplants desperate to get their hands on some of the burger joint's storied wares. "For goodness sake, how good can a quick service burger be, really?" Brandy lamented at the time, and as a stubborn opposer of anything trendy, she decided to not join the hordes until the furror died down a little.
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. The smells of frying burgers was rather intoxicating, and as masses of people didn't seem to be spilling forth from out of the door, so she figured the time was right for a little peek into exactly what made Shake Shack so sought after.
Shack Shake kept their design simplistic so as to not overshadow the beautiful vintage lobby they resided in. The signage was a great help in controlling the flow of traffic from ordering to paying to picking up one's food, and ample seating inside at tables and outside on picnic benches meant those eating in could be accommodated quite easily. Wandering up to the first station, Brandy quickly scanned the menu and placed her order to go, then about ten minutes later, after being presented with all of her treats, she headed out to the park for a little picnic in the sunshine.
Indecisive as always, Brandy decided to try two of the Shake Shack signature Concretes, which were limited flavors only available at that location: the Millennium Perk and the Penthouse Sweet, both of which featured well known Chicago treats mixed into their signature custards. The Millennium Perk was made from vanilla custard with Intelligentsia coffee beans and old fashioned donut pieces from Glazed and Infused. Brandy thought the thick texture of the custard was simply dreamy, and the slight bitterness from the coffee beans was a perfect match for the sweet base as well as the chewy, cakey bits of donuts. The Penthouse Sweet featured chocolate custard with sprinkles peanut butter sauce, and pieces of pecan walnut caramel toffee from Vosges Haut Chocolates. This was decadent as a candy bar with lots of crunchy surprises throughout from the toffee, as well as an underlying nuttiness from the peanut butter sauce, which mixed seamlessly into the custard.
Her entire, admittedly over indulgent, meal came out to just under $30, which isn't such a bad price, and though her food did arrive quickly and the service was relatively polite, Brandy just couldn't get that naked dog out of her mind. "If I wasn't so full, I'd like to march right back in there and demand the cheese and shallots I'm owed," she moaned, patting her very fully tummy and sitting back on the bench to enjoy the sunshine. Shake Shack was certainly a step up in the fast food arena, though Brandy couldn't help but feel her enthusiasm for the food had been slightly tainted by all the hype. "I'd take this over a flavorless, frozen amalgamation of beef some other places serve, certainly," as she put it, "And I do like that an effort has been made to break away from the stigma of being a chain by using lots of local goodies to make each location unique. But at the end of the day, Shake Shack is simply just a burger joint with a lot of good ideas."
The Short and Sweet Review