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Dec 26, 2008 10:46 AM

Burger Battle: Shake Shack vs Resto

I have always wanted to try Shake Shack but the lines were always too long. I guess the key is going on a frigid winter day. I grew up in St Louis so the style is not new to me but I always thought Steak and Shake makes the best flat style burger in the country(so much better than In n Out) and I wanted to see what an ex pat could do as an homage. I walked right up to the order window and downed a double shack on my way to my fifth bar of the afternoon. Damn that was good. The patties were little thicker than Steak N Shake, but the bun was great, excellent tomatoes(tomatoes suck in California except summer) and the dressing was a nice touch. All in all a great flat, griddle burger.

About 45 minutes later I found myself at Resto, a place I had dined at over the summer and loved. Great beers, and tons of rich and tasty meat dishes. I had read about the burger there and after consulting with bartender that I had just had shake shack, he assured me that ordering the burger would be a wise move. And in a way, it was. Because I will never order it again.

The first warning sign was that the burger was not cooked to order. He said something about it having pork in it, but I thought; "hey, I sure these guys know what they are doing, I have eaten braised beef cheeks here, it cant be dry".

The second warning sign was when it arrived. It was small. The Shake Shack burger was bigger and that was 8 bucks, not 16. And the bartender said "this is a dinner burger". It was a flat hockey puck.

Third warning sign was the bun. A plain, white bun. A cheap bun. Come on, really? This was supposed to be the "best burger" in NYC? I was dying for a instant transport to Corner Bistro at this point.

So now I had to eat it. It was rich but a little dry. Had a great aioli and stuck with a simple pickle and onion topping but ultimately comes off unadorned. It was a disappointment.

I know that Shake Shack gets more than its fair share of time on this board but coming from the city where it takes its inspiration, its a fine example of a flat stack, midwest burger and an excellent addition the NYC burger scene. Resto was a dud. Visiting from LA where there a number of very good gourmet burgers, Resto was just lackluster. Maybe I should have ordered one at PJ Clarks.

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  1. I've only had the burger at PJ Clarke's, but I much prefer it to Resto's. I, too, just tried it a few days ago. Maybe my expectations were too high, or it was overhyped, but it seemed like a pretty plain burger to me...and a bit overcooked for my taste, as well. My friend and I shared the parsley and garlic(?) mussels to start, and I'm happy to report those were great. Frites perfectly crispy; lemon paprika sauce very delicious; great beer list. But the burger -- well, next time I'll know to try something else.

    1. the resto chef moved to irving mill and its a pretty good burger there...but nothing beats shake shack...NOTHING.

      1. Went to Shake Shack last night after much hype. Greasy greasy greasy. In the end, it's a greasy pretty decent drive-thru burger with american cheese, not a delicious seared, med rare bar burger. The crinkle fries were a bit disappointing. Not bad but disappointing, In terms of fast food burgers I think 5 Guys even does a better job than Shake Shack. If your favorite burger is from McDonald's you'll be pleased by Shake Shack.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Smellchipper

          Never had a greasy burger at SS. Juicy? Yes. Greasy ? No. You'd better check to see that you actually went to Shake Shack.
          Since you prefer a bar burger, then SS is not for you.

          1. re: Smellchipper

            comparing a bar burger (i guess you mean something like Corner Bistro, Melon's) to Shake Shake is not a valid comparion. it is like comparing Napolitean pizza (Una Pizza) to NYC style pizza (Di Fara), it is just not fair as their styles are so different, even though the are both pizza and both very good...

            1. re: Cpalms

              agreed completely...i always say shake shack makes the best griddle fast food burger...totally different than a grilled burger.

              and no, never any grease.

              1. re: sam1

                it should be noted that melon's are done on a griddle....i think corber b's are done on a griddle then in a salamander...

              2. re: Cpalms

                Ditto -- also all of my Shake Shack burgers always have a nice, crispy, seared crust on the outside edges of the patty, which is one of my favorite parts. Mmmm.

                1. re: kathryn

                  I know, and still a little red inside - I was impressed by Shake Shack!

                  Shake Shack
                  Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

              3. re: Smellchipper

                I tried 5 guys and it was dry dry dry. I prefer a medium rare bar burger but that is just not what shake shack is about, and 5 guys is too thick to be included in the world of say In n Out, Blue 9, Steak N Shake or Shake Shack.

              4. I've been told that it must be cooked through because they grind pork fatback into the meat. That disappointed me, too. I don't remember my burger being that small though, it was pretty filling. Not sure you can really compare the "fancypants" Resto burger to the Shake Shack burger, which is an upscale version of a fast food burger.

                Note also that the chef who created the Resto burger and made it famous has moved onto Irving Mill. So maybe the quality and execution of the Resto burger is off nowadays.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kathryn

                  That seems to be my feeling as well in regard to a change of chef, also tried the moules rites and it was ok, nothing mind blowing like the meal I had before. The cooked through thing reall killed it for me I guess.