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Nov 22, 2012 02:02 PM

Another NYC addition to London - Shake Shack coming to town....


"Richard Vine has reported on Bloomberg this morning that the American burger chain - now with restaurants everywhere from Dubai to Washington DC and Kuwait City - is planning to open in the UK. London's first shack will open in Covent Garden in the Market Building near the Opera House in the middle of next year (2013).

As well as juicy burgers, you can expect flat-top hot dogs, cheese fries, their famous frozen custard - and long queues"

No complaints from me! :)

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      1. re: Nii

        Do you think they'll import the meat for the hamburgers?

        1. re: zuriga1

          Apparently Shake Shack are using British meat.

          However, I don't think it's all that, not least because it's really expensive here. It seems to be bang on a £ for $ equivalent. The burgers are very much in the style of In N Out, ie a thin patty, so you have to order a double to get the full - or rather, any - impact, which is £7. Fries £3. Frozen custard (which is very good I admit) another £3. Drink £2-odd, thus £15 is well and truly gone for very little.

          I know burgers are a very subjective thing and there are many variables, but personally I think the Meatmarket/Liquor/Mission group / Tommi's and Patty & Bun all have these new US imports beaten hands down. I am sure many American's will be up in arms at this statement, but you're being owned right now.

          1. re: marcusj

            I prefer Meat Liquor to all of these places, but having had a meal there during daylight hours, I just don't think I can go there again on cleanliness grounds.

            P&B is OK, a sort of hybrid of the fast-food and 'gourmet' styles. Their much touted rosemary french fries weren't to my liking, lacking crispiness and completely oversaturated with oil. The 'confit' chicken wings tasted like pre-chewed chicken in a thick batter covered with BBQ sauce - simple buffalo wings are better every time.

            Shake Shack is more like McDonald's than any of the other places. The burger components all meld together into a single flavour and texture in your mouth, and in my opinion, is way too soft. The crinkle-cut fries are ok for a change, but not nearly as good as McDonalds, my gold standard.

            5 Guys is as shitty here as it is in the USA. I don't get it; their burgers are a gloopy mess and the place itself is for the monkeys (they even have free peanuts)!

            Interested to try Tommi's.

            1. re: brokentelephone

              I thought the fries at Shake Shack were very tasty. To me, McDonald's fries are nothing special at all, but we all have our own preferences.

              I just couldn't stand the noise at Meat Liquor. It's probably an age thing.

              1. re: brokentelephone

                Tried a single patty burger at Shake Shack a couple of months ago, along with the fries. I did not order the special sauce, and thought it was utterly tasteless. The fries were ok, and a bit different because of the shape. Best burgers for me at the moment are Burger Bear. Before going to Shake Shack I went to have a look at the Meat Wagon place at Covent Garden (can't remember the name) and found it smelly and noisy so exited and went to Shake Shack instead.
                I also had a chocolate custard and it was ok, but not amazing.

              2. re: marcusj

                The menu said the burgers are made with Scottish beef. I think the fries were only £2.50. I'll go back another time for the custard. For me, that's a warm weather thing. :-)

                1. re: marcusj

                  I have to concur...I was completely underwhelmed with Shake Shack and 5 Guys after much fanfare with the opening of the two and I'm not sure why as I've had both in the U.S?

                  I think it may have something to do with the fact that we have so many great burger places now (Meat Mission being a current favourite) that the American arrivals are seemingly bland in comparison.

                  1. re: Nii

                    Nov. 23rd 2012 you said SS is seriously good. Is it drastically different over here? Never had it in NYC.

                    1. re: cathodetube

                      I did, yes, and I believe my initial enthusiasm was partly due to not having much home-grown talent to compare it to. Now, the burger stakes have been raised considerably and we have so many good burger outposts at this present time, that I'm not altogether to sure how these American imports contribute or add to a trend we've made our own?

                      I don't think the U.K subsidaries are markedly different, but you may or may not agree that we don't really need anymore input from the U.S.

                      1. re: Nii

                        I think we had good burger outposts at the end of 2012. I can get a pretty good burger in local pubs, as well as at some of the markets I go to. I can also make my own. I am mildly interested to see if SS and Five Guys expand into other parts of London or the UK. Would be more interested to see more Mexican places opening, especially ones serving fish tacos.

                        1. re: cathodetube

                          I agree that we've no need for further American imports. Like cathode, I can get a tasty, juicy burger at nearby dining pubs as well as other outlets that are not US derivatives.

                          By the by, I have a sense that Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which is almost a home grown company (yes, I know it's Kiwi owned), is cutting back on its branches. I can think of a couple near to me that have closed.

                          1. re: cathodetube

                            I think the main drawback to making burgers at home in the UK is the lack of availability of decent supermarket buns. I always find the buns at my local Waitrose or Sainsburys (hissss) to be really poor. I've bought artisinal buns/rolls but usually find them to have too thick a crust for a burger.

                            Baking my own would be an option, but (a) don't know how, and (b) seems like a lot of effort. My wife happens to be a baker, but somehow my requests for fresh buns is repeatedly ignored.

                            1. re: brokentelephone

                              If you can get "oven bottom muffins" from your Sainsbury then you'll find them good "holding together" quality. They're very much a north west thing so I dont know if they're nationally available. But they're much better than a supermarket barmcake/cob/batch/breadroll.

                              1. re: brokentelephone

                                Before I found myself living near the baker who made/makes the buns for Meatwagon and all its incarnations, I used to buy ciabatta buns from M&S. I put them in the oven for the required 8 or so minutes and found them rather good. It's also worth trying local bakers to see what type of soft rolls or burger buns they can provide.

                                Strange that your wife isn't interested in making your buns for you! Does she not eat burgers?

                                1. re: cathodetube

                                  Who is this baker (Meat Liquor)?

                                  I live in South Ken, and despite it being the greatest neighborhood in London (irrefutable fact, lets not bicker), there are no local home-style bakeries, and the bakers that do exist (Exeter St., Whole Food Market) are too high-brow and everything has huge air bubbles and chewy crusts and goodness I don't care for in a hamburger bun. There is a new french meringue place (amazing btw, Aux Merveilleux de Fred) which makes brioche, though I am not sold that brioche is a good burger bun.

                                  My wife has a grand diploma from cordon bleu, worked as a baker at the Ritz, the Berkley, and more recently, as a cake decorator at Little Venice Cakes, but somehow doesn't own a KitchenAid mixer, and thus all of my pet-project bakes never materialize (though our pan-pizza this weekend was amongst the best pizza I'd ever tried).

                                  1. re: brokentelephone

                                    The baker is called Kindred, and they are in Herne Hill, on Half Moon Lane. They are very close to the station, so you could get there easily from Victoria. Best to call them first to reserve the amount of buns you want. They also supply the buns for Burger Bear (those buns are slightly smaller apparently) and the hot dog buns for the Dogfather. Living in the burbs does have advantages!

                                    1. re: cathodetube

                                      Thanks that sounds great. I'll get our there sometime.

                                    2. re: brokentelephone

                                      Just my personal taste, but I like brioche buns with hamburgers. I think perhaps they need a slight bit of toasting, but it's awhile since I've made my own burgers and it's just the way I remember things.I think the Kopapa soft shell crab burger uses brioche buns, and that was good.

                2. American food seems to be the latest trend in the UK!

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: klyeoh

                    But S.S is seriously good. Now, they need to accompany this with a London outpost of In 'n' out - true burger heaven!

                    1. re: Nii

                      No doubt accompanied by their wrappers and napkins and boxes with biblical citations on them.

                      In n' Out is highly overrated.

                      1. re: huiray

                        For a fast-food burger joint with a drive-thru in-n-out burger is the best option in America. Shake Shack is the apple to in n outs orange.

                        1. re: huiray

                          In-n-Out is probably the most over-rated dining option in human history, but it's still pretty good for what it is. there's plenty of burgers in London these days far better than In n out, but that's misunderstanding what it is.

                          it's not an alternative or even a competitor to some luxury gourmet burger. it's an alternative to Mcdonalds, BurgerK ing or Wendy's. And in comparison to them it wipes the floor. But anyone expecting the world's greatest burger, as some of the zealots would have you believe, will be sorely disappointed.

                      2. re: klyeoh

                        Not necessarily outside the capital, klyeoh.

                        You will come across the occasional BBQ place trying to mimic what they think is an American BBQ place, but that's about it.

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          I don't want to be modest, but............

                          Just kidding.

                          Shake Shack opened in NYC about one month after I left for England. I've never been to one or tasted the food, but I'll certainly give it a go.

                          1. re: zuriga1

                            If its anything like the one in Miami it will be expensive but very good.

                            1. re: muushupork

                              How much do they charge for a hamburger in Miami? I guess we all know that everything costs more in London.. maybe it's now a God-given rule. :-)

                              1. re: zuriga1

                                A single patty cheeseburger with sauce and lto is $4.80. Considering I need a double to be full it costs $7.35. Fries and a shake usually have you walking out minus $15. It's probably not expensive compared to any other gourmet burger place though. I'm just use to 5 guys and quickies and I usually walk out minus $8-$9.

                        2. Perhaps you will also get the Shackcam to go with your first Shake Shack. (I've heard London already doesn't have enough cameras!) Here's the live Shackcam from the original location in NYC's Madison Square Park:


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: scoopG

                            Please!!! No more cameras. It's already like Big Brother here, although it's not always a bad thing when it comes to crime.

                          2. Not being sarcastic... but isn't frozen custard, er, ice cream?!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Kavey

                              I believe its on the creamier side.

                              1. re: Kavey

                                From what I remember, American frozen custard is like a Mister Softee.. very creamy and easy to swirl into a cone. It's certainly a different consistency than American ice cream.

                                  1. re: Kavey

                                    As I understand it, frozen custard is Ice Cream by the French definition....with the mandatory inclusion of eggs, giving a denser, more emulsified cream. I think is is nearly always served soft.

                                    FWIW, the Shack's rotating frozen custards are really good! :)

                                    1. re: Kavey

                                      OK, have read all the threads Limster linked.

                                      Sounds to me, from my Brit perspective, that frozen custard is just a variant of custard-base ice cream, perhaps extra rich and perhaps served softer than other ice creams... ?

                                      I make ice cream two ways, one is with a custard base, and that can be egg-yolk rich or not, it can be frozen hard or fairly soft, and it can be plain, vanilla or any other flavour, and is churned as it chills, to incorporate air, and the other uses a cream and condensed milk base, which is whipped to incorporate air, and hence doesn't need churning.

                                      1. re: Kavey

                                        Kavey, I don't know what process they use for the custard but it is soft, rich and of very good consistency. There wasn't an ice crystal in sight on my last tasting. I actually consider this a much stronger offering to their burger if I'm honest.

                                        With regard to those said burgers, I think we really need to distinguish between the different types. Brits may be shocked by how thin the In'n'Out / SS style is. If you don't have a double at either I think the overall bun balance falls apart. Personally, I much prefer a thicker patty which can be served a little pink , which is why I rate the other British providers I mentioned earlier. Each to their own though.

                                    2. I finally got here today. I've had a good American 'fix,' and will now be happy to wait till my next trip over 'there,' which is coming up at the end of the year.

                                      I thought the hot dog and the fries were first-rate. And no queue!