HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Shake Shack Fries Suck Horribly

tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 06:02 AM

Yo, what the heck? I really liked my first Shake Shack burger at the UWS outpost, though it lacked the good carmelized crust I'd been led to hope for. Still, great beef flavor, incredibly juicy...but the fires...THE FRIES!??! Where do I start.....clearly frozen fries from a big plastic bag, and not even very good ones. The insides were gritty, like they were made out of potato meal. And not only that, but the final insult...the fry orders were sitting out premade (I didn't notice if there were heat lamps). Does this happen in Madison Square Park?!? Insulting. I will go back for the burgers and the draft root beer, but unless they get better fries or onion rings, I'll skip the sides.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. a
    aravenel RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 07:59 AM

    Gonna have to disagree. While they're definitely not the best fries I've had, and they are frozen (there have been many discussions about why they do this--check serious eats), the ones I've had there have been quite good--very crispy, which is always my first and foremost fry requirement. Plus, the cheese sauce is nice. Perhaps you got them on an off day?

    The burgers are phenomenal too, which is the real reason to go. The fries only have to be passable, which in my experience, they exceed.

    5 Replies
    1. re: aravenel
      Cpalms RE: aravenel Feb 9, 2009 08:42 AM

      yeah, I have to disagree to....the fries at SS are better than most burger places out there (love the crinckle cut) and they are not pre-made. they do big volume so they are always making them. You probably got a bad batch, it happens. Being that SS is a danny meyer place, if you asked them to replace them with hot crisp order im sure they would have immediately...I also think the UWS location turns more consistant and better stuff than the MSP SS. I think it has to do with a larger more organized kitchen. Particlularly, the fries are better at the UWS location (they tend to be crispier) than MSP...

      1. re: Cpalms
        CalorieBurner RE: Cpalms Feb 9, 2009 02:39 PM

        Uh, no, the fries are, in fact, pre-made and frozen. See Ed Levine's story about the UWS location opening: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

      2. re: aravenel
        tamerlanenj RE: aravenel Feb 9, 2009 10:17 AM

        You know, this is really crap excuse making by SS; I've been to plenty of burger shacks in Boston with great hand cut fries. There is no substitute. They need to be cut that day, par fried, and then fried a second time to order, and salted right after coming out of the oil. It ain't that hard! Again, the burgers are good, but I've had great burgers at Flat Patties and Uburger in Boston with real double fried fresh cut fries, and it does really add to the experience.

        1. re: tamerlanenj
          dezineliz RE: tamerlanenj Apr 28, 2010 06:23 PM

          Ok and do they do the same amount of business in Boston as Shake Shack. There is probably a reason they don't make the fries fresh. Secondly, we both thought the fries were killer. Like really really good.

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

          1. re: dezineliz
            tamerlanenj RE: dezineliz May 7, 2010 07:45 AM

            UBurger is one of the most popular burger places in Boston. At lunchtime the line goes out the door, and being across from Fenway, during baseball season it's a mad house before games. It's just the tiny little backwater hick town of Boston, but I think "they're too busy" at Shake Shack is a pretty lame excuse.

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

      3. Peter Cuce RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 10:57 AM

        Huh, that's weird. I really like the fries at Shake Shack.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Peter Cuce
          MMRuth RE: Peter Cuce Feb 9, 2009 01:42 PM

          Me too.

          1. re: MMRuth
            gypsy RE: MMRuth Feb 9, 2009 05:59 PM

            Me 3. Love 'em!! Crispy outside, melt in your mouth inside, never greasy.

          2. re: Peter Cuce
            kelea RE: Peter Cuce Feb 10, 2009 07:34 AM

            Me too me too!! esp with the sauce...

            1. re: kelea
              bigjeff RE: kelea Feb 12, 2009 03:28 PM

              SS fries + their sauce = really wonderful time. they taste so good, and taste so unhealthy, but so good nevertheless.

          3. k
            kathryn RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 11:40 AM

            I'm not a huge fan of crinkle cut, and while the Shack fries are not bad, I usually save room for custard instead!

            1. m
              msny98 RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 11:42 AM

              I still like the fries... but the fries a year ago before the no trans fat switch may have been the best burger joint fries ever

              1. Miss Needle RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 12:07 PM

                Sounds like you need some support on this issue. Contrary to the other posters on this thread, I agree with you 100%. I've never liked the fries at Shake Shack. I've tried them many times thinking that I may have gotten a bad batch. But every time I tried it, my view remained exactly the same. I think the freezing may have something to do with it, but I don't think that's the main reason for my view. I've had frozen fries before that were quite delicious. For me, it's the type of potato. I like my fries really crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Shake Shack uses yukon gold potatoes. While I love yukon golds for mashed potatoes, I don't think they're the best potato for a french fry as I prefer my fries fluffy as opposed to creamy. And I think it's difficult to fry a yukon gold french fry so that it's super crispy on the outside because these potatoes contain more sugar than russets as they'll burn.

                In terms of the fries sitting out premade, I have encountered that a couple of times. I've only been to the Madison Park one. Sometimes the service there has been kind of slow and frustrating. Once I saw my burger sit out for like 15 minutes before I received it. I was kind of hoping it wasn't my burger, but unfortunately it was.

                I think the burgers at Shake Shack are good (especially the double stack). But I'd rather get my fries at McDonalds.

                1. d
                  domnicella RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 12:28 PM

                  Couldn't agree more! I have NEVER liked Shake Shack's fries. I think they're pitiful. My roommate loves them. Initially I figured it was a fluke, so I ordered them the second time I went. Nope, exactly the same crap I remembered. Hence, I never order the fries. Which essentially means I don't go to the Shack unless I'm humoring Shack-crazed friends -- how good is a burger when you can't pair it with fries?

                  Try Burger Joint in the Parker Meridian. Phenomenal. Everything is better -- better burger, better shakes, and infinitely better fries.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: domnicella
                    CalJack RE: domnicella Feb 9, 2009 03:05 PM

                    Agreed on the Shack's fries being a bit too mealy for my tastes, but it doesn't seem like we'll be approaching anything close to a consensus here because posters have expressed some vastly different standards when it comes to their fry preferences.

                    I will point out that I doubt the original poster would be much happier with Burger Joint's fries - I believe they're also frozen, though they adhere closer to the FatDonald's model than those at the Shack.

                    Fresh, crispy, hand-cut fries are pretty elusive when it comes to the usual burger suspects around the city. I had some relatively long and skinny fries on my last trip to Royale that really surprised me with their crispy freshness, but I haven't been back since, and I find that consistency isn't the strongpoint there. Balthazar serves arguably the best frites in the city, but again, they may not suit the style that tamerlanenj is demanding.

                    Anyone know where to find perfectly crispy fresh potato fries? And please don't say Pomme Frites, even Ray's Belgian Fry place over on Ave A - as much as I love it, the fries are a total tour-de-grease these days.

                    1. re: CalJack
                      MMRuth RE: CalJack Feb 10, 2009 04:52 AM

                      I still love the frites at Cafe Bruxelles ... though I'm not sure you can just order those and nothing else. The moules are excellent.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        pork_buns RE: MMRuth Apr 28, 2010 09:17 PM

                        I'll just add that the fries at Spotted Pig are amazing. They're really thin (the opposite of Shake Shack), super crispy and sprinkled with salt and toasted rosemary. Yummmmm!

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

                        Spotted Pig
                        314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

                  2. c
                    CalorieBurner RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 02:40 PM

                    I haven't had the fries at the UWS location, but I've always found the Madison Square Park fries to be sub-standard. And I LIKE crinkle-cut. Of course, I think the whole operation is overrated....

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: CalorieBurner
                      hotdoglover RE: CalorieBurner Feb 9, 2009 02:56 PM

                      If a place like Five Guys (which I love by the way) can make fresh cut fries, why can't Shake Shack? Admittedly, I haven't had the burger at Shake Shack, so I can't compare the 2. The fries are ok, but not worth wasting calories on. The hot dogs aren't good. Not authentic Chicago style. In Chi Town they don't put lettuce and peppers on the dogs. And a grilled dog from Papaya King beats the Shack's bland Vienna dog. I don't think a great burger from there with mediocre fries is enough to justify waiting on a long line. I'll stick with Five Guys.

                      1. re: hotdoglover
                        Cpalms RE: hotdoglover Feb 9, 2009 08:14 PM

                        Hotdoglover, I know you have forgotten more about hotdogs than I know but isn't one of the defining elements a chicago hot dog are "sport peppers"?

                        and SS doesn't put lettuce on their chicago hotdog, however I do agree that their chicago hot dog is average at best, the bun is off and the dog is not cooked well done enough but I believe all the elements are their to make it "authentic"...

                        1. re: Cpalms
                          hotdoglover RE: Cpalms Feb 10, 2009 09:50 AM

                          Sports peppers are indeed one of the ingredients of an authentic Chicago style dog along with bun (usually poppy seed), frank, yellow mustard, neon green relish, onions, tomatoes, pickle slices, and celery salt. When I went in 2002, there was lettuce on my hot dog along with cucumbers and green peppers (bell peppers) which you don't usually find on a Chicago hot dog although some places like Byrons includes lettuce and cucumbers.

                          A place in Jersey called J's Beef served an authentic Chicago Hot Dog. The owner was from Chicago and "imported" the ingredients from there. Head and shoulders better than the Shake Shack. But in fairness, I haven't been there since 2002, so they may have improved. I also had a plain Vienna beef dog with mustard. It wasn't hot enough.

                          1. re: hotdoglover
                            Cpalms RE: hotdoglover Feb 10, 2009 10:15 AM

                            HDL, Shake Shack now makes them (and has for a while, i think) exactly as you describe, that being said I think they are average compared to those I've had in Chi -town.....back when SS had a New York Dog with onions, it couldn't lay a hand the Gray's Papaya...

                        2. re: hotdoglover
                          NYPORK RE: hotdoglover Feb 10, 2009 06:39 AM

                          Shake Shack probably doesn't hand cut the fries because of the cost of labor, that kind of volume would require one or two people dedicated to just making them. I worked at Blue Smoke at the begining and they were making onion rings from scratch which usually had two people making them, they cut that out after awhile to save a buck and went frozen then got rid of those employees.

                          1. re: NYPORK
                            KTinNYC RE: NYPORK Feb 10, 2009 07:04 AM

                            I don't think it would really take much for a worker to use a industrial French fry cutter like this one http://cgi.ebay.com/Northern-Industri... . I suspect they may not use fresh potatoes for the same reason Thomas Keller doesn't at Bouchon. Frozen fried just have a more consistent quality.

                            1. re: KTinNYC
                              NYPORK RE: KTinNYC Feb 10, 2009 07:57 AM

                              Have you ever used one? Have you worked in a kitchen? Sure it is faster than hand cutting, but not that easy. Trust me it is a labor issue. You need to cut the fries, let them soak in water, drain and let dry, then fry store and fry to order.While I have never been to a shake shack I'm sure the shear volume of fries is lot easier to deal with by opening a bag.

                              1. re: NYPORK
                                KTinNYC RE: NYPORK Feb 10, 2009 08:01 AM

                                I'm not really disagreeing with you. Most of the reasons you cite are what Keller's reps say when asked why Bouchon uses Sysco frozen fries.


                          2. re: hotdoglover
                            JungMann RE: hotdoglover Feb 10, 2009 07:11 AM

                            SS doesn't put lettuce on their Chicago-style hot dogs. And the mushy mashed meat of a Papaya King hot dog just doesn't compare to the snap and flavor of an all-beef Vienna Beef hot dog. Grilling just masks the underlying textural inferiorities.

                            As for the fries, I'm going to have to confess they get my seal of approval. The outsides are crisp, the insides are soft and smooth.

                            1. re: JungMann
                              hotdoglover RE: JungMann Feb 10, 2009 09:55 AM

                              I disagree. Grilling better brings out the flavor in an all beef dog. Even in Chicago many people prefer their dogs char grilled. Vienna beef franks are made from quality ingredients (bull meat and brisket) but the dog is mild compared to a Sabrett (used at Papaya King), Hebrew National, or my favorite beef frank from Best Provisions in Newark. If you prefer a frank heated in water Chicago style, try a cart that serves Sabretts hot and fresh. Sorry I couldn't recommend one in N.Y., but if you're in N.J. I can give you a few that prepare their dogs perfectly.

                            2. re: hotdoglover
                              Peter Cuce RE: hotdoglover Feb 11, 2009 10:58 AM

                              Oh my god, I absolutely loathe everything about Five Guys. Who cares if the fries are fresh cut if they are terrible?

                              1. re: Peter Cuce
                                hotdoglover RE: Peter Cuce Feb 12, 2009 01:50 AM

                                I would agree, except that I find the fries at 5 Guys delicious, And the burgers are godd too. Maybe the one you've been to is not one of the better franchises? I've heard that quality varies.

                                1. re: Peter Cuce
                                  Cpalms RE: Peter Cuce Feb 14, 2009 07:43 AM

                                  agreed, the fries suck at 5 Guys, and the burgers are good but nowhere near Shake Shack...

                            3. s
                              sugartoof RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 04:28 PM

                              To answer your question though, the MSP location does precook their fries and leave them under heat lamps at times. I've liked them when they were freshly cooked well done, and well salted.... but yeah, I think Shake Shack is just a decent fast food burger that's not very fast. They're not the best at anything though. Next time you go the fries might be perfect. No quality control.

                              1. l
                                Lucia RE: tamerlanenj Feb 9, 2009 06:24 PM

                                Shake Shack's fries are frozen, but doesn't stop me from loving them.

                                1. _emilie_ RE: tamerlanenj Feb 10, 2009 10:25 AM

                                  Exactly. Why has no one figured this out yet. You SKIP the fries, and get TWO Shack Burgers. You know you always wish you had two of those babies (well, I do). Plus in the winter (now) the fries are cold in like two seconds, so they'd be a waste even if they were good. No one here can argue that they like cold fries.

                                  Mmmmmm ShackBurger...

                                  1. b
                                    billyboy RE: tamerlanenj Feb 14, 2009 02:22 AM

                                    Les Halles on John Street in Lower Manhattan has the best Fries/frites I have ever had in the city. Crisp, creamy inside and perfectly salted.

                                    As for the Shack, I like the crinkle cuts, especially when I dip them in my concrete or shake like I did at Mickey D's as a kid!

                                    1. d
                                      desimax RE: tamerlanenj Jun 16, 2009 08:41 AM

                                      I have to totally disagree with tamerlanenj (and everyone else who echoes his/her opinion) on the Shake Shack fries. I find the UWS's SS fries to be a fantastic side complement to the SS burger. The fries are cut to just the right thickness, will retain the heat for a reasonable amount of time throughout the meal and fried to just the right crispiness to be deliciously crunchy. So often fries will either enhance or diminish the burger meal experience. Clearly, SS fries enhance the 360 degrees of the 'burger and fries' experience. When receiving my fries at the SS, I am reminded of the scene in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" when Brad tosses out cold fries saying "I will serve no fries before their time." SS demonstrates that attitude. If a customer believes the fries to be not hot enough, SS will give the customer another, fresher, additional serving, without hesitation.
                                      Indeed, by way of example, I find the Burger Joint's fries at the Parker Meridian less satisfying. The Burger Joint's julienned fries are much too thin and quickly lose their heat. It seems to me that tamerlanenj is simply basing his/her judgment on the 'cerebral' knowledge that the SS fries are frozen after they are cut and, further, assumes that the SS fries are made of 'potatoe composites' like the MacDonald's process.

                                      1. d
                                        Daniel76 RE: tamerlanenj Jun 16, 2009 08:46 AM

                                        I didnt realize that the fries had enough time to sit out under heat lamps.. The place is turning so many people that, you would think they come right out of the deep frier to waiting orders..

                                        I went to Shake Shack on the UWS yesterday afternoon and had a surprisingly fantastic meal there.. I got the cheese fries and really enjoyed them. .And I normally do not like crinkle cut fries.

                                        I however thought the combination Concrete that my nine year old ordered was disgusting.. I found the taste of confectioner sugar to be over powering. She did order a concrete with caramel, cookies, and whipped cream.. Just incase you were considering it, I would advise against it..

                                        She then ordered a coffee and donut custard and it was awesome.

                                        1. monasapple RE: tamerlanenj Jun 16, 2009 09:06 AM

                                          amen! i feel the same way about in 'n out's fries. at least their's in theory sound like they'd be great- handmade/hand-fried etc. but shake shack's? god awful. and i'm sorry, if i can't get a good fry with my burger, chances of me going back are slim to none.

                                          1. u
                                            uwsister RE: tamerlanenj Apr 29, 2010 12:38 AM

                                            I'm not even sure why this thread has been bumped but wanted to add I love their fries as well. Frozen or not, they are delicious.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: uwsister
                                              foodismylife RE: uwsister Apr 29, 2010 08:53 AM

                                              got two orders free when they screwed up our schroom burgers and both my wife and I deemed them inedible
                                              if they are going to user frozen fries they should go to the supermarket and buy Nathan's frozen fries which are awesome
                                              Tip if you want the schroom burger, order it extra hot, dreadful if cold

                                            2. r
                                              richg35 RE: tamerlanenj Apr 29, 2010 06:30 AM

                                              The fries are definitely not good. Even though they are usually fried to a crispy brown, they always seem to have an undercooked potato taste to them.

                                              Show Hidden Posts