Burger Intel: A British Person Reviews the New Shake Shack London

Apparently, it's just as good as the Stateside edition.

  • All photos by Sarah Mei
  • shakeshackldn3
  • shakeshackldn2

The first Shake Shack London opened last weekend in Covent Garden, and given our interest in transatlantic burger eating, we’ve been eager to hear how it stacks up to the NYC original. Since we only know a few people who A) live in London, and B) have actually been to Shake Shack in New York, we hit them all up to see who would brave the lines—er, queues—for an early word. Sarah Mei (@missmei) boldly stepped up to the plate and filed the following report—British spelling preserved for proof of authenticity. 

I learned of Shake Shack from Gary Warnett, who knows everything about everything ever. After I visited for the first time in New York, I realised that this was the place that so many people had told me about—with the queuing and the burgers and the Concrete Shakes and the queuing, I had just dismissed the name because no one’s description had ever done it any justice. But Gary told me about the potato bread and I was immediately interested because POTATO BREAD! As someone who grew up on rice and noodles, I have gone forth in life, flown from the nest, and determined that potato is my carb of choice (don’t tell my mum). Anything with potatoes is a win. Oddly enough, the French fry (or chip, as they are referred to in Inger-land) is my least favourite style of potato; however, the crinkle-cut fries at Shake Shack are in a league of their very own and should be compared to no other fry or chip, ever (except maybe the rosemary salt shoelace fries at the Spotted Pig, but I digress).

So anyway, Shake Shack is one of the New York-y things that I miss most about New York. This may seem like a really cliché thing to miss about the city, but remember: POTATO BREAD. I recall the first time I ate there, Gary took me to the location on Upper West Side where there was a big queue full of tourists and irate New Yorkers. It wasn’t even lunchtime. This was nothing, I realised, once I had joined the standstill queue in Madison Square Park a few evenings later. My first experience was golden and every meal there afterwards was no less worthy of the wait.

My ShackBurger was just as good as any that I’ve had Stateside.

I’ve been waiting for the London branch to open for months now. Man alive did they take their time. But, guys, as we all know, Shake Shack is always worth the wait. Located in the centre (yes, that’s how we spell that word over here) of Covent Garden, with hundreds of people milling about, you’re separated from all the creepy guys standing motionless until a tourist drops a coin in the cap at their feet. There are large indoor, outdoor, and kind of indoor-outdoor areas dedicated for Shake Shack diners, and they’re needed because the queues so far have been substantial.

Since opening last Friday, I’ve had scouts checking the queue daily to let me know how long I’d be waiting for a burger. The average has been an hour and a half and because I don’t enjoy crying in public I decided today that I wouldn’t bother waiting for dinner, and instead headed over for an early lunch. I was in the queue by midday, practically dribbling in anticipation for the flavoured frozen custard.

The London branch does not disappoint. It’s crowded, but lovely, which adds to Shake Shack’s friendly food atmosphere. My ShackBurger was just as good as any that I’ve had Stateside, the patty was juicy and the garnish and sauce did the job. The fries, although a little cold, tasted divine. I know you’re probably thinking that I place a little too much importance in a burger and fries, but POTATO BREAD and CRINKLE-CUT FRIES people, don’t make me tell you again. An icy Coke perfectly complemented the saltiness of my meal and I nearly kissed the waitress who offered me a free large tub of Sticky Toffee Concrete which I ate after the tub of Coffee and Donuts Frozen Custard I already had lined up on my tray. The staff are all super friendly, which obviously does justice to the brand, and everything’s neat and tidy with nothing remotely McDonald’s-y about it.

If you’re in (London) town and looking for something reminiscent of New York, the Covent Garden Shake Shack queue is your port of call. Five Guys is just around the corner too, but the queue there is just as long and they don’t use potato bread for their buns.

  • Evan Machugh

    They look like oven made crinkle cut chips. Who falls for this bullshit and forks out money for overpriced Funfair food? The eagerness with which people allow themselves to be suckered into this nonsense is bewildering. I’d say they’re like children, but that’s insulting to kids. Wise up you chumps

    • First We Feast

      @evanmachugh:disqus Have you ever tried Shake Shack? If not, this indictment of the food feels a little strongly worded.

  • Evan Machugh

    It’s a burger an some dodgy looking chips. Funfair food, as I said, nohing wrong with that. I like burgers, good ones and some guilty pleasure nasty ones both, I make good burgers at home. But this hipster elevation of the burger and junk food in general to a level it doesn’t deserve is nonsense. The excitement and hype over what’s a very basic product, tasty but basic,, by food bloggers like this one is ridiculous and actually serves to diminish the pleasure of anybody eating them for the first time. Because burgers are burgers, they tast good and that’s it , full stop. They’re not THAT “amazeballs”, as your one would doubtless say. That’s my only point.

  • Evan Machugh

    By the way, I’ve worked in the restaurant industry since I was 15 . I’m 43 now and have worked as a KP, sous Chef, waiter and manager of restaurants. Of all kinds, including barbecue selling good burgers and fries. So I’m coming from an approach of someone who doesn’t just write and talk about food for a living.

  • matt

    Shake shack is massively overrated. I tried it for the first, and last time, today and found it to be little more than Mc Donalds re-branded for hipsters.

    The burgers were disgustingly greasy, to the point where the bun was quite literally soaked in fat and oil from the cheese and bacon. For me, the only time a bun should be soaked like that, is if it’s the blood from the rare to medium-rare patty.

    So unless you actually like Mc Donalds or Burger King, I’d advise sticking with GBK or Byron for decent burgers, where they actually mince the meat themselves and can cook them to a perfect medium rare.

  • EntryInvalid

    If you’re looking for a burger in Covent Garden, skip the over hyped Shake Shack and walk 20 yards to the Meat Market instead. I was not impressed by Shake Shack AT ALL.

  • EntryInvalid

    If you’re looking for a burger in Covent Garden, skip the over hyped Shake Shack and walk 20 yards to the Meat Market instead. I was not impressed by Shake Shack AT ALL.

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