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Burgers in NY

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Ah, don't bother. You are all nuts, and so is everyone on Chowhound and eGullet. Completely crazy.

 

So, I go down to Shake Shack off-peak and just go for the straightforward SHackburger with cheese. Little tiny burger on the kind of soft white bun known in England as a bap. Bit of tomato, bit of lettuce. Slice of American cheese. And the special sauce about which I can remember nothing.

 

And you people are standing in line for this?

 

Yes, it is better than McDonalds. In a sane world, McDonald would be about this good, and no-one would be standing in line for it.

 

Barmy. The lot of you.

 

Edit to add: Loonies.

if we had In and Out here in NYC, it might be a different story.. as it is though, people line up for hours waiting for an in and out burger when a new place opens up.. traffic jams regularly form around them during lunch hours.. so it's not exactly a nyc phenomenon.. not to say that LA is always the most rationale of places, or should be what we model ourselves after..

 

ask for your burger rare, and they'll give it to you rare.. ask for it well, and they'll give it to you crispy and well. otherwise, it's med-rare to medium..

 

it's a solid burger.. it's outside.. it's different, and if you spent a lot of time in the neighborhood, you'd understand that it's better than most of the options around, including any burger within walking distance, although i will allow for those who are Molly's fans to argue this..

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No, no, people, no.

 

This is it:

 

ShakeShack-ShackBurger.jpg

 

Credit to Hollyeats.com for that. *

 

There is no magic. Look at that little patty there. Lettuce and tomato you can get from the supermarket. A bap. And don't tell me it's about the sauce.

 

Hocus pocus.

 

Walking distance... you could walk to Wollensky Grill quicker than wait in one of those lines.

 

*And according to the Good Food Cheap man, that's a double. Shit, I used to get a burger from Hungercure in Ilford, Essex which would put that to shame.

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Some nameless, ersatz Thingy O'Tool Irish bar down in Tribeca served me a better burger than that a couple of months back.

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Shit, I used to get a burger from Hungercure in Ilford, Essex which would put that to shame.

You go too far. The only good thing in Ilford is the A12 heading west.

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That's right. It's a burger. It's a decent burger. But not a line-waiting-worthy burger, by any means.

how long have you waited for a Bistro Burger down at Corner Bistro??

 

at least you can drink your beer outside while waiting on line in Madison Square Park..

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You guys are talking crazy. The Shake Shack is in the upper tier of NYC burgers. Exceeded by the Burger Joint, JG Melon's, and a few other places. It's a classic, American burger done right. Good quality ingredients including the soft, slightly sweet, fresh bun, iceberg lettuce and tomato--the classic accompaniments... crisp, fresh, end pieces discarded, a patty that includes a % of brisket, which adds a nice beefy kick, always well seasoned, with consistent execution. Sounds simple, right? Well it is. But it's rarely done as well. With the exceptions listed above, along with a few others, I'd be curious as to what $4.75 burgers are in the same league. Sure, the burger at PL is better, but that's a different game entirely.

 

And it's a helluva lot better than one of these 8-16 oz underseasoned monstrosities that tend to destroy whatever undersized, store-bought bun they're slapped on and that pubs, diners, bars, and restaurants all around the city love to serve. Why are New York restaurants seemingly incapable of seasoning burgers properly?

 

That being said, you won't catch me waiting in line for 45 minutes. Though I've found if you get there before noon, it's usually only 5 or 10 minutes max.

 

I like the cheese fries, too.

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That's right.  It's a burger.  It's a decent burger.  But not a line-waiting-worthy burger, by any means.

how long have you waited for a Bistro Burger down at Corner Bistro??

 

at least you can drink your beer outside while waiting on line in Madison Square Park..

I have been to Corner Bistro twice, and only waited one of those times, and not long.

 

I don't wait for burgers. They're just burgers. Even good burgers.

 

And I didn't go that nuts over the Corner Bistro burgers anyway.

 

JG Melons are definitely better. Restaurant 343 too.

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Guest Aaron T
That's right.  It's a burger.  It's a decent burger.  But not a line-waiting-worthy burger, by any means.

how long have you waited for a Bistro Burger down at Corner Bistro??

 

at least you can drink your beer outside while waiting on line in Madison Square Park..

But the Corner Bistro burger is a burger worth waiting for. So good.....

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Maybe the places serving 4-5oz patties of ground beef just aren't particularly serious about cooking them to perfection? :o

 

I can see the point of sampling the larger sized burgers, where there's significant interior, but the small ones end up being just slightly better than McD.

The "carry" on every burger is significant. A 4-5 ozer will carry enormously even on a short trip from the kitchen to table. Shit, it'll carry from plate to pass. Add a large number all at the same time, and well, you can see the problem.

 

I find 8-9 ozers a little easier to deal with.

 

It's the hot fat in a juicy burger. It keeps cooking the damn thing. It's harder to calibrate in a burger (especially a small one) than a steak or veal chop or double cut lamb chop.

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I can't remember if I've mentioned it here before, but Epstein's Bar on Stanton and Allen does a kick-ass burger. They're going for the Corner Bistro-type (of which I'm a fan), even using the same beef supplier. The burgers (which are all of $4 or 5, $7 for the Epstein's Burger with bacon and cheese) are full of flavor and juicy, but not as messy as the Bistro. The fries are variable, but can be very good.

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Call me squeamish (and yes, I know this isn't unique to Corner Bistro--just last night I encountered the same elsewhere) but after seeing two mice play tug-of-war with a french fry in the back room of CB I haven't been back. At least at Shake Shack the mice fight it out with the squirrels for my leftovers.

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I am not surprised that the Shake Shack has its detractors. The whole premise is built on a nostalgia trip that could easily elude those who didn't grow-up eating these kind of burgers and fries from the concession booths that sold food at swimming pools and beaches 20-30 years ago. Danny Meyer is mining his childhood food memories for restaurants (Blue Smoke, Shake Shack).

 

That said, my food there was very good. The burger was thick and meaty (but not a monstrosity) well-seasoned and cooked exactly to order. Yes, it was american cheese, lettuce and tomato with special sauce, but that was what I wanted. This is not the place to go for a short rib/foie gras burger topped with Bayley Hazen aged blue cheese and organic frisee with baby yellow heirloom tomatoes. This is concession stand food served out of cardboard trays. I cannot comment on the shakes, as I opted for root-beer instead, but the fries were hot and crispy. Meyer has re-created the lunch I used to eat while sitting on a towel on the beach as a kid. I liked it then, and I like it now.

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But would you wait on a line for it?

 

I think we should have some kind of rating system.

 

5 minute wait-worthy

10 minute wait-worthy

30 minute wait-worthy

 

etc.

 

Of course there's waiting in a line outside, and there's waiting at a nice bar with a cocktail...

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