Let me preface this post by saying, I will be giving this burger joint a second chance, but as far as first impressions go, I am none too pleased with the "almighty" (as some of my New York friends call it) Shake Shack.
But alas, I shall begin.
If you are like any other Orlando/Central Florida citizen, you know about the recent opening of Trader Joe's. If you happen to take drives around the Winter Park area where the TJ's is located then you probably aren't a stranger to the traffic flow coming in and out of the area. If you have no idea what I'm even talking about, allow me to enlighten you. The new Trader Joe's is a delight; a discount "organic" food store where you can purchase some very low priced and very delicious foods (I mean, have you had the Cookie Butter? Seriously, it's too die for). The parking lot of Trader Joe's however is like a scene out of a post-apocalyptic film. It's kill or be killed, and I, of course, mean that in the most humane way possible.
But honestly, my first attempt at going to Shake Shack and TJ's was on a Sunday evening at four o'clock.
My co-pilot and I barely had any room to drive around. And forget about driver's courtesy-- all of that goes out the window once you enter the Thunderdome--I mean the parking lot. Needless to say, my first attempt at Shake Shack was a bust.
Fast forward to about a week later. My second attempt at Shake Shack wasn't foiled by the parking, but instead the line. It stretched out the door and while I have no issue waiting for new food (although, that day I was particularly hungry), I was meeting with friends that had no desire to stand in the line.
Fast forward a few days more: yesterday.
Since introducing my mother to BurgerFi, she has been a fan (an avid one, might I add). After work, she called me, asking if I wanted to meet her there for dinner. Did I? Absolutely! But I also gave her the option of Shake Shack. It was 3PM on a Wednesday. Adults were at work, families were most likely eating at home and at that point Shake Shack, itself, had been open for longer than a week. She agreed (begrudgingly) and we met up in the TJ's parking lot (with no difficulty parking, thankfully).
The Lakeside Plaza is undoubtedly beautiful, with it's naturally colored buildings and relaxing backyard scene scape. Even the Shake Shack, from the outside, is very easy on the eyes. I was actually very excited to eat here, after all the rave reviews I had heard about it.
So this how my conversation with the cashier went after reading their giant menus on the wall:
Him: Welcome to Shake Shack. What can I get you?
Me: Hi! Do yo--
Him: I love your hair, by the way...
Me: (truly flattered 'cause it was one of those days) Thank you! Um, Do you guys have any gluten-free options?*
Him: Ah, No.
Me: Oh...Nothing? Like at all? I know on your menu online it said there were gluten free options available...Like a lettuce wrap, or a salad-ish kind of thing?
Him: Um...is it an allergy or a preference?
Him: Oh, well...I can give you a burger with no bun, just a burger on some lettuce?
Me: Yes! That's perfect! A Smoke Shack. A single, please.
Although it may seem visibly short, the conversation between myself and the cashier actually took much longer, as he looked quite confused and I was almost embarrassed for asking for a bunless burger. Luckily, we got it straightened out fairly quickly. Shake Shack handed us our "beepers" similar to ones you get at most sit-down dining experiences. Also similarly, when it buzzes, your food's ready(duh, right?).
The food came out quick enough, I might be a little spoiled, in that, I was a slightly disappointed in having to go fetch it myself.
With our meal, Shake Shack gave us a complimentary squirt of...Shake Sauce? Honestly, I am not certain if that's what it was, I didn't ask and probably should have. It looked almost like white cheese whiz (and this girl loves cheese whiz, hence the lack of questions).
At first glance, the meal looked fantastic. I am a big fan of spicy burgers, I'm sure I've said that before. Ordering the Smoke Shack was exciting, as I had been eyeing it on their menu for weeks. Chopped cherry peppers and bacon? Yes, please. My mom ordered the same thing (with a bun) and she was just as excited as I was.
She was kind enough to allow me to eat some of her burger before diving into my own bunless version, for the sake of a moderately well-rounded review.
It wasn't until I started to fork and knife my own burger that I noticed they had given me a double, instead of a single. Not a big deal, right? But after the first few bites, I realized, it was a big deal.
|I mean, seriously? It looked so good!|
Because I had to finish it. I had paid for it.
Now, I am not one for nuances, but when the cashier said "some lettuce" I really thought he meant some. As in more than one. But my double sized burger, rested on one, yes, one measly leaf of lettuce. The longer I ate my burger, the more the grease seeped out of my burger, on to the paper container and soaked through until I was basically cutting into the table with every bite. For a few seconds, I legitimately considered picking it up, lifting it and holding the soggy one-sided lettuce burger in my hand, just to avoid eating a Smoke Shack with a side of paper. And I know what you're thinking, that's what you get for ordering a bun-less burger, right? Negative. Go somewhere else and order it. You'll get a lettuce wrap or some salad-esque burger substitute. Restaurants tend to try and make up for the lack of gluten in your meal with the good ol' green stuff.
As for the burger itself? Lackluster. Harsh, right? Well, it's honest. Shake Shack prides itself on "100% all-natural Angus Beef. No Hormones and no antibiotics ever." How many times have we heard this? I'm not saying I don't think it's true, but for me, the burger wasn't enticing at all. The Angus beef that I'm used to doesn't taste like the burger joint down the street's number four. The meat tasted frozen and the patty reminded me of one of those pre-formed packaged patties or a burger that you wanna believe is fresh, but you know deep down in your heart of hearts that it isn't. If I had to say it reminded me of anything, I would compare the meat to a fast food patty, just not a lot of tasteful substance to it. The cheese on the Smoke Shack is also nothing to write home about; just a regular old slice of American cheese, from what my taste buds told me. The cherry peppers on the burger didn't detract from the burger, but didn't add to it either, and in the end, were just a colorful addition to the meal.
I will say this, however. Shake Shacks' fries were, as far as crinkle fries go, some of the best I've had in a long time. Nothing special, but simply well salted and crispy, not one soggy, floppy fry in the bunch. Also the view? I've never looked at anything so beautiful while eating a burger before. Kudos for that Shake Shack.
On our way out, we noticed two people at the counter complaining about their meals being incorrect, and after a short excursion through TJ's, we returned to Shake Shack for a frozen custard fix, which was, again, served to us incorrectly, and really was not nearly as redeeming as we both had hoped.
And so...my final review of Shake Shack? As I am now a high school English teacher, it only seems appropriate to give the new establishment a D and follow it with a little note that says 'Needs Improvement'.
Until we meet again, Shake Shack.
*Girls gotta watch her weight sometimes.