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Mar 20, 2013 11:28 AM

Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill

Went to the grand opening of Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill today. I got a single cheeseburger with bacon, fries, and a regular chocolate shake. I didn’t try their signature custard offerings this time, but I do plan to go back another time to do so.

There’s not much I feel I can add, it’s a decent traditional burger and shake restaurant. The burger was thin style and juicy. I thought the fries were a bit too salty, but I could have gotten the first of a fresh batch so who’s to say what the norm is, YMMV. I found out that the “Shake Sauce” is a tangy homemade mayonnaise. There are some additional charges to add bacon, a slice of cheese, to make the shake a malted, etc.

The interior is minimalist in design, which is a style that appeals to me, so points there.

It is a bit pricy, my simple meal cost $14.08.

Overall, the food was decent.

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  1. Your views are consistent with mine. (My NYC apartment is a block away from the original Shake Shack location.) It's a perfectly good burger -- certainly better than your average fast food burger -- but not worth the typical 45-minute wait in Madison Square Park. If the line is short, I'll go; otherwise, not.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Blumie

      Yah, a good burger but not worthy of a wait. My niece and nephew love the concretes.

      1. re: Gabatta

        In general, I'm pleased that Shake Shack is here. Like all Meyer restaurants, it's high-quality, with a focus on hospitality. However, what does bother me is the sheep mentality that seems to have surrounded this opening -- similar to the Restoration Hardware opening a few weeks ago. It's a perfectly tasty burger restaurant, people, not the Holy Grail!!

        1. re: Swankalicious

          People are excited about Shake Shack opening. That doesn't bother me. I'm not going to go wait in line, but I'm also not going to have an issue with someone else doing so. I'm sure my niece and nephew will find a way be there when they come to visit next week, and they will love every second of it.

          What Restoration Hardware bring are you talking about? The opening of the store Back Bay was delayed and it hasn't even opened yet.

          1. re: Gabatta

            Gabatta, RH threw an opening party a couple of weeks ago that was packed to the gills. The party received an enormous amount of negative media coverage due to what was perceived as poor planning. The running joke was, Screw this, I'm heading off to Crate and Barrel with my martini. Many wondered why Boston was so darn excited about a furniture store opening. It doesn't "bother" me that people are excited about the SS opening, and I hope everyone who dines there loves it. But I think the excitement is a bit out of proportion to what the restaurant actually is: a very good burger and hot dog fast-food place.

            On a deeper level, perhaps I wish that it was one of so many important and exciting openings that it didn't have a frenzy surrounding it. I surely do hope people love their experiences there; I'm sure I will, too, when I make it over. I just don't understand the level of hype.

      2. re: Blumie

        I like that this location has a Shake Shack cam so you can take a look at the line before going.

        1. re: Infomaniac

          Can you please post a link to the cam? I don't see anything on their website. Thanks.

          1. re: Gordough

            it's available for other locations like if you select madison square garden.. but not yet for us, it seems.

        2. What time did you go and how crowded was it?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Gordough

            I went around 11:30 AM. Not a bad wait, 10-15 minutes on line and 10 minutes or so after ordering to get my meal.

            Inside is small, so "how crowded" is a relative term. I did get a seat in short order, but I can picture "dining in" as being a pain depending on when you go there.

            1. re: Gordough

              Friday night at 5pm was a 1hr wait. Saturday night at 9:30pm was also a 1hr wait. By Saturday night at 10:45pm there was hardly any wait. The restaurant itself was pretty much full all those times, but I also didn't see anyone waiting for a seat.

              The interior seats about 75 people.

            2. Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter on Friday, and Waffles and Bacon on Saturday for the "flavor of the day". I've had the pancakes and bacon and it was amazing.

              May have to stop by. At least I've got a good reason to visit my mom (lives 5 minutes away)

              2 Replies
              1. re: L2k

                Went to have those exact two flavors this weekend. Both were excellent. The salty chocolate peanut butter had a thicker texture than the vanilla and chocolate flavors, probably from the peanut butter. (I find the regular flavors to have an almost airy, yet rich and creamy, texture.) Not very sweet, a lot of peanut butter flavor, and the chocolate is almost just a supporting role.

                Waffles and bacon had big chunks of waffles that were still soft, not dry, and tasted like waffles. The bacon was in tiny tiny bits that were crunchy, making me wonder if it was candied. The ice cream itself is bacon flavored, instead of just relying on the bacon bits to flavor the ice cream. A great version of bacon ice cream.

                1. re: wu12

                  Ha! I was going to make the same report! My b-i-l waited in the big line on Friday (he wanted a burger, too), said it went more quickly than he expected (couldn't say how long, exactly), and brought me home a pint. Wife and I went Saturday at noon, and walked by the line that was around the corner almost all the way to where Pinkberry is going to open (between Shake Shack, Pinkberry, and Treat (opening this week, I hear), there's gonna be tons of calories in that block), and right in the door. No "C-Line" sign outside, and some folks looked at us funny as we slipped past them, but walked right to the register and got our pint of waffles and bacon.

                  Having had their pancakes and bacon in NYC awhile back, I expected the same thing, but the chunks of waffle were a very nice surprise, and the p&b version was just maple flavored for the pancakes.

                  Quite pleased, I must say.

              2. It may help to keep in mind they aren't aiming at a great burger but at an old-time burger like Danny Meyer grew up with at Steak & Shake in St. Louis. They do a good version of what is to me, growing up in Detroit, a Big Boy hamburger. That's all it is. The shakes are good.

                29 Replies
                1. re: lergnom

                  How I wish they had the *real* Steak N Shake or Big Boy here .........

                  1. re: lergnom

                    I very much doubt that Danny Meyer would agree that "they aren't aiming at a great burger." But I do agree that it's intended to be a "quick service" (to use industry jargon) style burger and not a high end restaurant style burger. And as quick service style burgers go, it's a pretty darn good burger. But that doesn't change my mind that it's not worth waiting 45 minutes in line for.

                    1. re: Blumie

                      Agreed: Meyer aims for greatness within a given category. But in this case, the category is "under-$5 fast-food burgers", and there's only so much you can do within those constraints. Anyone who expects their mind to be blown by a $4.75 burger deserves the disappointment.

                      But I do wonder why the fries are allowed to suck. Plenty of places at this price / formality level serve much better fries.


                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I have to agree. I was very underwhelmed by the fries when I ate at one of the New York outlets. the burger was very good for its price, and I enjoyed the shakes, but the sucky fries are mystifying.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          Are the fries at least better than Five Guys'?

                          1. re: Fly

                            Yes, frozen (retro Friendly's) are still better than the soggy single fried over cooked but somehow undercooked grease sticks at the bottom a a bag that people love about 5 guys. Maybe it's because they know who the farmer is.

                            Meyers is quoted : "I'd rather have a good consistent frozen french fry like ours than inconsistent fresh french fries that are sometimes great and sometimes not"


                            1. re: T.Clark

                              I think that frozen is almost always better, myself, so this is good to hear.

                              1. re: Fly

                                Anyone know if UBurger's fries are frozen? To me, those are gold standard fries of the fast, casual burger places.

                                1. re: Gordough

                                  If I remember correctly (and its been a while since I have been to the Kenmore UBurger), they were cutting the fries in house right above a big sink of cold water in full view of the customer. And you're right, my memory is that their fries rock.

                            2. re: Fly

                              I'm glad to see someone else hates those fries. I went to Five Guys once and they were so nasty I just threw them out.

                              As for Shake Shack, for the life of me I cannot understand the hype associated with this place. It's a hamburger, what exactly is the big honking deal?

                            3. re: MC Slim JB

                              Not blown maybe but Flat Patties in Harvard Square makes an insanely delicious, under $5 (or very close), fast with no real lines to speak of burger. Yum.

                              1. re: ebaba

                                Flat Patties is my favorite local player in this segment.


                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Flat Patties, Tasty Burger, Uburger, usually in that order although that can change according to mood and what specifically I'm craving. (A place that sold Flat Patties' burgers with Tasty Burger's fries and rings and Uburger's shakes would be the city's category killer.) But I see no reason to trek all the way out to Chestnut Hill and stand on line for 45 minutes when I can walk to all three of these places and get as good a meal without the tsuris.

                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                    Well, Shake Shack offers a very good approximation of a Chicago dog that doesn't require a trek to Norwell or Weymouth. That will be the main draw for me.


                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        If you find yourself in MetroWest, don't miss the Chicago Dog at Spalla's in Natick:

                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                  The fries at Shake Shack in DC are always crispy and awesome, the antithesis of the handcut soggy burnt garbage that Five Guys foists off on you by the pound.

                                  Given the sea of mediocre burgers in the world, getting a decent burger cooked to order that tastes like something besides grease, fries that are consistent, and a shake for less than $15 is an accomplishment.

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    The original was worth a wait because it was the park and part of the experience was talking to friends and enjoying the crowd and the mood. But waiting for a burger in general is not worth it. I think it's also not worth waiting at most restaurants, but that's a different discussion.

                                    I know they chose those fries because they thought they could get them more consistently crispy, with all the corners, etc. They should be. If they're not, then the outpost is not doing them correctly.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Don't most restauteurs aim for greatness within a given category? :)~

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          A bit, Slim, a bit ... though I think you'd be hard-pressed to find the restaurateur who aspires to mediocrity or failure.

                                          1. re: Swankalicious

                                            Actually, I think mediocrity is *exactly* the business model pursued by many restaurateurs. More specifically: mediocre, cheap food -- often with the knobs for fat, salt, and sugar dialed to 11 -- perhaps presented with some consistency. This is the Phantom Gourmet's wheelhouse.


                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              That's depressing. I see your point, though I'm thinking about restauteurs of Danny Meyers's reach and prominence -- not the types of shoot-for-the-middle-and-add-salt places touted by the (blech) Phantom.

                                              1. re: Swankalicious

                                                It is sad, but if you head over to Restaurant Depot and see the number of food operations and restaurants with thousands of dollars worth of frozen, processed and already prepared food items on their carts, you will understand that many in the restaurant business "strive for mediocrity".

                                                1. re: bakerboyz


                                                  Restaurant Depot is a huge awakening.

                                    2. re: Blumie

                                      Is there such a thing as a burger worth standing in a 45 minute line for? Burgers are my favorite comfort food and I eat more than my fair share of them but I have yet to find one that would make standing on my feet in line for 45 minutes a worthwhile use of my time.

                                      1. re: Gordough

                                        I waited about 20 minutes in NYC for mine, and while it WAS very good, I wouldn't wait 45 minutes. Actually my wife was peeved with me as I wouldn't stand in the 200+ person line at the outlet in one of NYC's parks. There was no way I was doing that, and when we got one even the wife commented that it wasn't worth the time we'd have spent in the line at the park.

                                    3. re: lergnom

                                      We finally went and I have to say that we really had an enjoyable burger, fries and milk shake. It reminded me of the big boy hamburger that I grew up with in Buffalo, NY. I also can say that I found it much better than Five Guys or In and Out Burger. On the other hand, it is not a destination restaurant and I wouldn't wait 45 minutes or more for the food.

                                      1. re: veggielover

                                        Shake Shack = Big Boy = Danny Meyer's head blowing up.

                                    4. I have to throw in and say the fries are really weak but save the calories and go with a Shack Burger and shake instead. It is a bit baffling how anyone would wait for 45 minutes on fast casual but thats really just the Madison Square Park location. I have been to most of the other locations and after grand opening it's usually pretty normal.

                                      Talking general Boston Burgers; If you are a fan of the flatter griddled burger I don't think it gets better then this in the area. I still like Flat Patties and think they do a nice job in this segment, U Burger, Tasty Burger, Four Burgers and the like are all also rans compared to Shake Shack for me. SS is using a high quality meat blend (Lafrieda), properly seasoning it and then keeping all that great crust on by using paint scrapers on those custom hot griddles. That is some dedication to making a quality $5ish burger in my they are really consistent so if you do find yourself enjoying the product then you can go back without hesitation.

                                      Hopefully this new entry in our local burger scene causes some of the previously mentioned spots to raise their game.

                                      Yours - admitted 4 year and counting SS fanboy

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: YoChief23

                                        Finally a voice of reason. The LaFrieda blend with brisket is what makes the shake shack burger, compared to a relatively flavorless tasty burger or a too thin flat patties (both of which I enjoy, but not nearly as much as SS). And the completely overindulgent Shack Stack beats any of the fancy burger combos at Tasty Burger. Add a little frozen custard and some Abita root beer and that's a great meal.

                                        If anything, IMO Shake Shack pretty much started the $5 "authentic" burger trend; I can't think of any pre-2004 places to get a burger in Boston outside of McD's or Bartleys, and there was no such thing as a "burger scene" in NYC until Shake Shack. You could make an argument that Five Guys/In & Out also influenced this, but as the former is franchise I find they're in suburbs and not in downtown areas, and thus not as influential; the latter is still west coast only.

                                        That being said, death to crinkle cut fries. I could probably find better in a school cafeteria.

                                        1. re: psychoandy

                                          You had me until the crinkle cut fries crack. Having suffered through acres of upscale boutique artisanal fresh cut fries that were fried by people who had no clue how to fry potatoes, frozen crinkle cuts are a godsend. The best way to have them is from a bulletproof Chinese carryout. They're like potato pork cracklings that take on the flavor of the eggrolls and wontons that have been in the fryer.