You must be doing something right if you’ve gone from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan to a global phenomenon within a few years. It does help if your founder is Danny Meyer, the New York restaurateur who has the midas touch and can do no wrong. He owns a string of Michelin starred restaurants in New York and with Shake Shack, he has singlehandedly defined what a premium fast food service should be like.
The location is on the quieter part of New Oxford Street but they are clearly investing in the future, as huge plans are forecasted for the area with the eventual opening of crossrail at Tottenham Court road. The decor is filled with clean well thought out designs mostly in their corporate colours of green, black and white with smart, modern wooden panelling throughout the restaurant. Even the queuing system is well thought out, divided between ordering, a dedicated line for frozen custard and drinks and a pick up area.
Service is exemplary; you are not treated like another sales number at other fast food venues, neither is there the fakedness of a theme park welcome. You are welcomed like a guest at a friend’s house, its genuine, it’s honest and the staff do come with a healthy dose of good-natured humour.
Most aspects of the menu are hard to fault. Their bestsellers like the ShackBurger has a surprisingly moist and juicy patty that you just wouldn’t normally expect at a fast food outlet. The bun is so sumptuously soft , it wouldn’t be out-of-place as a pillow on my bed. What is remarkable considering it is an American owned restaurant, is how much they support local businesses. The bun is from St John Bakery, which also supplies some of the ingredients for their frozen concrete dessert. They also work with chocolatier Paul A.Young. The beef for the patty all come from 100% Aberdeen Angus beef and the cows have all been fed on UK and Irish pastures.
Their all beef German hot dogs or their local Cumberland-Style pork sausage versions are full of authentic meaty flavours rather than fat or undesirable cow/pork parts. If you’ve tried their addictive crispy crinkle cut fries, you might give up on straight fries in the future.
I particularly enjoy their concretes, which are dense frozen custard ice cream. You could be working on the other side of Oxford Street and your dessert won’t melt by the time you get back to the office or if you wanted to enjoy it in the park. What is particularly noteworthy is their New Oxford Street style version: apart from being dessert heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth, 5% of the sales go towards the local homeless charity, Centrepoint. You can enjoy chocolate custard, chocolate hazelnut brownies, peanut butter sauce and bananas whilst raising money for charity at the same time. Who said big conglomerates don’t have a heart? Hopefully we will be seeing more of Shake shack around London and less of those corporations who pay a pittance on corporation tax.