After the a phase of burger craze in London, I simply couldn't keep chasing the next 'best burger in town', so I put a line under Patty n Bun, crowned it king and stopped there. Then our friends across the pond decided to join the party... and curiosity got the better of me.
Shake Shack, the New York-born chain, made a pretty bold move by snapping up the best spot in the Covent Garden Piazza, just opposite MeatMarket. The system is pretty simple: one queues at one side of the restaurant to place your order at the tills, then one is given a buzzer and goes to pick a spot in the multiple areas, then one collects the food when the buzzers buzzes. It was a total of 20min wait at 7:30 on a Sunday evening. Very efficient.
Cheeseburger and a 'Shroom burger topped with lettuce, tomato and Shacksauce
The deep-fried mushroom totally dominated; the breaded shell was fresh and crispy, the fat mushroom was oozing with juice, which mingled with the generous melted cheese. Problem is, what about the patty? It went unnoticed. Firstly it wasn't rather thin, which meant it was cooked through and was leaning on the dry side. Secondly it didn't carry much flavour, let alone meaty goodness. The bun was uninteresting.
For someone who is used to being served the perfect medium, inch-thick, smoky patty with warm fluffy brioche bun, the Shake Shack burger simply doesn't cut it.
Authentic German all-beef hot dog dragged through the garden with Rick's Picks Shack relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomato, sport pepper, celery salt and mustard
Will decided to go with the hot dog, as he thinks a good dog is hard to come by. But I did say the best dog in town is the Big Apple Hot Dog truck.
The entire dog was stone cold. The sausage was particularly poor with a sinewy skin and excessive salt. There was an awful battle among the intrusive acidity from the pickles, bitterness from the pepper, pungent spiciness from the onions and the slimy relish. I hated it.
Topped with our blend of cheddar cheese sauce
I liked the cheese sauce, it reminded me of mac n cheese, though the crinkle cut chips could be better.
Shakes & Concretes - peanut butter & Union Shack
The union shack 'concrete' was anything but as it came melted. Even if it didn't come in its milkshake form, I'm not sure how this is supposed to work; either I queue again for my dessert or I just have to watch it melt away as I chew on my burger...? It talks of paul.a.young chocs and St. John brownie with the whole frozen custard thing in the description... really it's a lot less exciting than it sounds. And £4 for a cup of overly sweet slur, I felt robbed.
The peanut butter shake needs another couple spoonfuls of peanut butter.
To be fair, judging from the way it operates, I recognise Shake Shack is more like a fast food joint than gourmet burgers. But if it's closer to McD or BK, they really shouldn't be charging this kind of prices. I am a bit bored of our American friends bringing their mediocre chains over here, and all they change is the dollar sign for British pound. We deserve better.
For me, Shake Shack ranks below GBK and Byron, probably slightly above Burger King. Let's see where Five Guys land next.
23/47 and 24 Market Building
Covent Garden Market
Tel: 0203 598 1360