In this feature we will review select New York Times restaurant reviews. This week: Shake Shack.
I had high hopes for the relatively new New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells. After all, anyone would be better than Sam Sifton, who was most notable for his annoying nickname (Sifty), nonsensical awarding of stars, flat attempts at humor, and giving only 3 stars to Masa because it’s too expensive and elitist (no way!).
Wells is off to a good start. His review this week of Shake Shack was spot on — I’ve long maintained that the Shack expanded too quickly and the burgers are inconsistently prepared. They also tend to vary based on location. The original location in Madison Sq. Park seems to always serve the most consistent burgers for some reason, while I have anecdotally observed that the Upper West Side location is the most inconsistent. And inconsistently inconsistent. I’ve had both overcooked and undercooked burgers at the UWS location — mushy fries and burnt fries as well.
Wells is also right that their hot dogs and shakes are their best dishes. In fact, the best thing I’ve ever had at Shake Shack was the Hungarian smoked sausage that they have at their annual “Shacktoberfest.” If only it was available year-round.
One disagreement I have with Wells is I like the Shroom Burger — the deep fried portobello mushroom that Shake Shack promotes as its vegetarian burger. Sure, it’s greasy, overly cheesy, and hardly healthy. But the crispiness is excellent, and while there are perhaps more imaginative veggie burgers than a deep fried mushroom, the Shroom Burger has never suffered from inconsistent preparation.