Shake Shack, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Well, we did it. We went to the new Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill one week after it opened and stood in line for 45 minutes, waiting to try the iconic burgers. The line felt like it kept moving (albeit slowly) and when we got to the front of the restaurant, staff members were lighting heat lamps to keep us warm, so it wasn't too bad. (But it was nearly 8 p.m. by the time we got inside.)
Once inside, we were able to check out the large menu on the wall (not that I hadn't already pulled up the menu on my phone 25 times in anticipation) and see all of the offerings, which include burgers, fries, flat-top dogs, frozen custard, concretes, beer, wine, and more. When we got up to the counter, we were greeted by Zack, who took our order, was super-friendly, and even joked with us. Knowing the lines and constant flow of people he was dealing with, I was really impressed at how happy and calm he seemed and how he took the time to answer our silly questions like "So... we can really just get in that short line when we are ready for dessert? We don't have to order it now?" (Tip: You can get in the C-Line for drinks, shakes, and frozen custard. No need to go back outside and wait another 45 minutes.)
We left the counter with a buzzer and set about finding seats. That was probably more annoying than waiting in line. We didn't put it together right away that we were there the night before Good Friday and kids had off from school the next day. The restaurant was filled with kids, many of whom had no concern for the people standing around trying to find seats so they could eat their dinner. Eventually though, after some serious table stalking, we saw people vacating their seats and we swooped in and snagged them. Moments later our buzzer went off, and Jeff went to retrieve our food while I made sure no one tried to steal his seat.
I figured that on my first trip I should get stick with the basics, so I ordered the ShackBurger. Jeff customized a hamburger with cheese, bacon, and onion. And then we shared plain and cheese fries. Strawberry lemonade, which I got but didn't love, was the featured lemonade flavor that night.
My burger was served on a delightfully squishy bun with fresh lettuce and tomatoes, melty cheese, and a healthy dose of ShackSauce. For a fast food or roadside-burger-stand burger, I thought it was delicious, and I wolfed it down -- I had waited nearly an hour for that burger after all. This isn't the sort of burger you get when you're looking for a gourmet $18 burger; it's the sort of burger you get for your fast food fix, but it's better than the usual fast food. (Shack burgers are made from 100% all-natural Angus beef, and the proprietary Shack blend is freshly ground.)
Jeff's burger had the same squishy bun, crispy bacon, a pile of raw onion, and gooey cheese. He's a diehard In-N-Out fan and liked the Shack Shake burger, enough that he says he'll go back, but doesn't think it beats In-N-Out. Since we don't have In-N-Out here, I'm thinking he'll be happy Shake Shack's around.
The fries were impressive. I've been getting used to going to Five Guys and leaving with just my little bacon cheeseburger because I don't like their fries. So it's a bit dangerous that I like the fries at Shake Shack so much. They're your typical crinkle-cut fries, and they came out hot and crispy and so well-seasoned that I didn't have to dump extra salt on them. If they're always like that, consider me hooked.
For cheese fries, those same crispy, well-seasoned fries are topped with a special blend of cheddar and American cheese sauce and need to be consumed hot so the cheese sauce doesn't set up.
To get the whole Shake Shack experience, we couldn't leave without dessert. So I jumped in the C-Line and ordered a chocolate shake for Jeff and a Shack Attack for myself. The Shack Attack is a concrete (frozen custard blended at high speed with mix-ins) consisting of chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough, and Mast Brothers Shake Shack dark chocolate chunks, all topped with chocolate sprinkles (real ones!). Does that sound decadent or what? It totally was.
We took the shake and concrete to go, and I savored every rich, chocolatey bite of the Shack Attack on the car ride home. (I only got the half portion and it was more than enough.)
I was happy with our first Shake Shack experience, besides the line and the abundance of kids. I didn't find it life changing, but our burgers and fries came out hot and fresh, and the staff was friendly and efficient. And I think there's something to be said for a place that makes good burgers fast and also has fun desserts and beer and wine. We will definitely be back, but maybe after the lines die down a little. (Though we did sit next to a girl from NYC who told us it's always like that there. So I wonder if the lines will die down...)
Shake Shack is part of Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality group and the original one opened in 2004 in New York's Madison Square Park. (I've walked by it and it makes me think of that scene in Something Borrowed with Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski.) Shake Shack's mission is to Stand for Something Good, and the Chestnut Hill location has partnered with Birthday Wishes, a nonprofit that provides birthday parties to homeless children. Five percent of sales from the Lobstah Shell Concrete (vanilla custard with lobster tail pastry shell from Boston's North End, strawberry puree, and ricotta cream) will benefit birthday wishes.
The new Shake Shack location in Chestnut Hill is the first in the Boston area, and it's in a new development called The Street. We happen to live a short distance from Chestnut Hill, so I'm really excited about this new development (read: new places to shop and eat) and happy to have a good burger spot nearby.
Have you ever tried Shake Shack?
Labels: Restaurant reviews and events