Tag Archives: Burgers

What Makes the Shake Shack Burger Taste So Gooooood?

12 Feb

In the summer of 2008 just after I had graduated from college and moved back to New York, Cousin M moved from Karachi to NYC. In Karachi, she used to rave about the burger from Mr. Burger in Boat Basin, which she liked to call a desi burger – a cross between a spicy bun kebab and your regular fast food burger. Cousin M always knew what would appeal to our palates and she was the Encyclopedia of Karachi Dining as far as we were concerned.

Meanwhile in another part of the world, a roadside burger joint Shake Shack opened its windows in 2004 in Madison Square Park, NYC. But of course, it took Cousin M’s arrival in New York and her continuing tradition of knowing exactly what we would love that I discovered the Shack Burger. Having passed by Madison Square Park regularly, I was discouraged by the impossibly long line of burger enthusiasts inching gradually towards what seemed like the finish line aka the orders window. Now that I have stood in the line countless times, I can assure you it makes for great moments of overhearing celeb gossip and striking up conversation with others who are wondering exactly what you are “why on earth have I been standing here for an hour for a damn burger.”

I don’t claim that Shake Shack has the best burger in NYC but it’s certainly amongst the best and here’s why –  it simply doesn’t try too hard. It takes what you and I conceive to be an average burger and elevates it to a higher level by perfecting the core components of the burger without adorning it with multiple toppings and fancy ingredients. There isn’t too much going on which distracts away from what the burger should essentially be about – the meat, the bun and the sauce.

Here is a deconstructed Shack Burger ($4.50 Single / $7.00 Double) via Serious Eats

The Shack Burger Deconstructed

  • The Meat: 4-ounce patties made from a proprietary blend of sirloin, brisket, and short rib. New York locations use meat ground by Pat LaFrieda. All burgers delivered fresh daily, never frozen.
  • The Cheese: Very melty and mild American.
  • The Toppings: Green leaf lettuce, sliced Roma tomatoes, thin-sliced onions, pickles.
  • The Sauces: Thousand Island-style Shack Sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise.
  • The Bun: Martin’s potato roll, toasted in butter.

Last summer, Serious Eats decided to put an end to the ongoing debate in “burgercentric circles” between the three major heavyweights of the high-quality fast-food burger world by carrying out “The First Bi-Coastal Side-By-Side Taste Test” comparing everything from the meat-per-dollar ratio to the types of cheese and toppings. The contenders being California’s legendary In-N-Out Burger, Virginia’s Five Guys (with branches in NYC and all over the country) and finally New York’s very own Shake Shack, the youngest of the lot.

Having tasted all 3, for me it’s a close call between In-N-Out and Shake Shack but perhaps due to the fact that I’ve had the Shack Burger on numerous occasions, it marginally edges out the other. Not unexpectedly, Shake Shack also emerged the winner of the Serious Eats taste test mainly due to their dominance in the meat department:

“The Shackburger, on the other hand, is a marvel of beefy engineering. The flavor and texture of the beef patty is second to none, with an intense beefiness and cooking method designed to maximized browning, and thus our carnal pleasure. Yes, their toppings and bun are great, but at the Shack, it’s all about the beef”

My recommendation: Pair it with cheesy fries and a chocolate malt shake. And for the men reading this – apparently Shake Shack is Padma Laxmi’s favourite burger joint in NYC.

MEATliquor

12 Dec

I’m always on the lookout for a great burger. Not just any burger but the kind that you crave more and more with every bite. During a trip to NYC in September, my friend, A, and I had a conversation about the best burgers in NYC. The criteria being the texture of the bun, the quality of the beef patty and lastly the choice of toppings. We both had a long list of the best burgers we had tasted in the city based on those attributes but we recognized that we had not been very adventurous with burgers in London. So when MEATliquor opened its doors in London in early November, the brand new eatery was a must on my to-try-list. It’s only been a month and I’ve already clocked in 3 visits.

From the outside, the location is unassuming but the interior is gothic and edgy with black, red and white animal murals painted on the walls and ceilings with and red neon lights screaming ‘LIQUOR!’ The blaring rock music is quite loud so let’s just say this may not the most date-friendly location.

I haven’t tried the drinks so unfortunately can’t comment on the ‘liquor’ half of the establishment but there is plenty to be said about the food. I tried the deep fried tangy pickles, incredibly crunchy and moreish and wonderful when smothered in the accompanying garlicky blue cheese sauce. I liked the shoe string fries that were served on my first visit but by my second visit they just seemed like regular sized fries.

The menu is fairly straight-forward. No mention of the provenance of the meat or types of cheese etc. I, personally, don’t care much for detailed descriptions as long as what is placed in front of me blows my mind. As I took the first bite of my chilli cheeseburger I knew I was in meat utopia. The meat-to-bun-to-condiment ratio is just right and the burger itself is big enough to satiate you but not heavy enough to make you feel like you can’t move after eating it. The sourdough bun encases the patty, which is juicy, chargrilled on the outside, pink in the center; topped with melted cheese, onions, and ketchup and in this case abundant green chillies (very spicy even by my standards).

The burgers are priced between £6 to £8 and the sides are between £3 to £5 making this a very affordable meal.

MEATliquor is a ballad to the meat lover but probably a vegetarian or even a kosher abiding person’s worst nightmare. Be prepared for long queues at peak dinner time. In order to avoid that, I went on a Saturday just after noon and got a table instantly. MEATliquor is closed on Sundays and Mondays but brace yourself for some meat and cheese goodness the rest of the week.

Meat Liquor
74 Welbeck Street
London W1G 0BA

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