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Square Meal Review of Shake Shack ?

Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack has been wowing them stateside since 2004, and now the New York restaurateur has brought his modern-day ‘roadside burger stand’ to London. Set in Covent Garden’s tourist honeypot, the new venture features eco-friendly dining areas within the South Hall of the Market Building – an enticing draw for locals and American expats who are lured by a self-service menu of all-natural burgers, flat-top hot dogs and that US classic ‘frozen custard’. Native sourcing and ingredients from London’s artisan suppliers play their part in recreating the transatlantic repertoire – think layered burgers with soft buns and lashings of sauce, plus a host of other crowd-pleasing favourites partnered by crinkle-cut Yukon fries slathered in nacho-style cheese sauce. As for drinks, expect shakes, iced teas, fountain sodas, root beers and wines, served by staff who dole out Yankee hospitality with a big fat smile.

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  1. Published : Thursday, 1 August 2013

    Ross eats :: Shake Shack

    The iconic New York based burger bar arrives in London; however about 3 years too late. It was a higher than normal standard ‘dirty burger’ with nice juicy meat, oozing cheese and fresh vegetables but the problem I had was the niggling thought in the back of my mind...
    More from Ross eats »

  1. More than a week late to the party, the huge Covent Garden site was still heaving. Meanwhile, a (passionate this time) member of staff flown in from New York admires the building crowd. He said the queue waiting time has been a steady 45 minutes since Shake Shack opened their first UK site on July 5th. But we know for a fact that the queue has been longer – a group of ‘friends of friends’ bought a box of lager and ‘made a night of it’, such is the appeal of this burger mecca. Sat in the piazza while opera booms out from below us we felt like tourists in London, in a good way, not an eating at an Aberdeen Steak House sense...
    More from We Love Food, It »

  1. Situated in the old Market Building at the centre of Covent Garden, Shake Shack comprises of the premises housing a band of cash registers backed by the kitchen and only al fresco seating (although dining areas are covered by the Market Building roof). Along with your name, you give your order to the well trained and smiling till staff and a buzzer you’re handed makes a racket once the food is ready to collect from the pick-up counter. We were a party of three, each ordering the double Smoke Shack - essentially a bacon cheeseburger with two beef patties. I also ordered the Union Shack concrete (ice cream) and there were a couple of portions of crinkle cut chips on the table...
    More from The Cutlery Chronicles »

  1. London readers: unless you have been on another planet, you’ll have heard of this burger joint in Covent Garden. Imported from New York, the hype surrounding it has been something to behold. I had to try it. It’s the latest in the new wave burger joints.

    I got there at about 9.15 and was told that the queue might be half an hour. Half an hour? At that time? Normally I’d have walked off before the words even left the mouth, but I was committed, having walked 45 minutes to get there, in a sorry attempt to counteract the damage I knew I was going to inflict...
    More from Saying it straight »

  1. Published : Saturday, 15 February 2014

    Wrap Your Lips Around This :: Shake Shack

    Shake Shack is a burger joint from across the pond, now located in Covent Garden. The hype around this American import means that queues to get in can be an hour long. For the burger-militants out there, there is no obstacle too large for the promised patty.

    Upon ordering, buzzers are handed to signal when orders are ready to collect from a hatch. This second round of waiting can be efficiently used to scout for a table. You can dine in the communal piazza space of the market, or in limited indoor space specifically for Shake Shakers. Shake Shack looks like how a McDonalds would look in The Emerald City. This similarity to Maccy-D’s extends to the food...
    More from Wrap Your Lips Around This »

  1. Published : Sunday, 9 February 2014

    Sybaricious :: Shake Shack, London

    Last October during a road trip around New England my Shake Shack cherry was well and truly popped by visiting both the Boston and New Haven restaurants. To say that I was effusive with praise is maybe an understatement. I was therefore keen to try the newish London outpost despite the bad reviews that proliferate the internet.Despite my enthusiasm for hot beef and cheese, I'm really, really bad at queuing. I don't mean in a European, all elbows in a crowd and not knowing how to stand in a straight line 'bad' kind of a way but more from an impatient, rolling eyes, stroppy perspective. There was therefore not a cat in hells chance that I was going to be amongst those initial lines snaking their way through Covent Garden when Shake Shack London opened back in August 2013. Does that mean I'm a bit behind the curve? Definitely. Do I care? Definitely not. It is also not just one queue that you embark on at Shake Shack. You queue to order then once you have your green plastic ordering gadget you queue to be allocated a table then finally once the gadget starts buzzing and flashing like a lost and demented alien you queue yet again to collect your food at a different hatch.  There are nice touches like the fact that a Shake Shack employee carries your tray to your table for you making you feel as though there is a dollop of customer service in the mix but all the above means that its not anything approaching a high end experience. Strange then that there are things Shake Shack do to try and convince you that it is high end. Putting Chassagne Montrachet on the wine list for example although you'd have to be slightly bonkers to order it so I steer clear. As with most outings my attention veers quickly to booze once I've an inkling what I'm eating. Shake Shack is unusual for burger joints in that it even has a wine list at all.  The house wine is a little on the rough side. I'm talking so rough that I couldn't even finish it which is virtually unheard of. Frog's Leap Merlot, fizzy on the tongue and with overripe red fruits. I'm pretty confident that this is the wine Miles was talking about in the film Sideways and to misquote him; "I'm not f*@ing drinking this Merlot" either. On the upside, full marks for the plastic cup with funky thumb indent, if you do have to drink your wine out of plastic then this is a pretty good way of doing it. In all honesty I wish I'd given the wine a miss (and I NEVER say that) and stuck with the Fifty/Fifty; a mix of half iced tea and half homemade lemonade. Really light and refreshing and perfect with a greasy burger.So, what about the all important burger? Very good,  but no prize winning rosettes here I'm afraid. Maybe its because I went for a single compared to the doubles that I enjoyed in the US but I found the actual burger a little drier and crumblier in London and less well seasoned. It is still definitely superior to McDs or Burger King but its not reaching the heights of Meat Liquor or Patty and Bun. I think where the difference lies is that this feels like next level fast food as opposed to being a restaurant.We decided that it was the bun that was giving it the McDonalds type taste; it is that sweet, bleached flour, springy loaf texture as opposed to the good sort of sweet brioche type burger bun.Cheese crinkly fries were just as good as those in the US although they were a bit stingier on the cheese sauce front. They still rank as some of my favourite ever burger joint chips though. Crispy, golden but fluffy in the middle. Each branch has its own local take on "concrete". Concrete is, in theory, essentially posh McFlurry and by posh I mean very posh. Made with proper ice cream custard instead of the vegetable fat ice cream that most fast food places use, the Union Jack was chocolate frozen custard blended with chunks of St John bakery chocolate brownie and shards of Paul Young dark chocolate and salted caramel. It was utterly delicious.Ultimately though, I think the Union Jack concrete was indicative of where the problem lay for me with this Shake Shack. It's trying to be all things to all people resulting in a series of contradictions. Yes, its fun to put very high end, high quality ingredients in the food, yes isn't it terribly amusing to order Chassagne Montrachet with your burger (although a travesty; food & wine matching purists would be spinning at the thought) but ultimately it is still a predominantly open air burger joint in one of the busiest tourist traps in London. I would only ever use it as a pitstop for a refill, I can't imagine meeting friends for a catch up or going on a date there, it all feels too crowded and rushed for a relaxing dining experience which means that top of the range drinks and ingredients feel a bit wasted. Its also trying just a little bit too hard. The statement burnt into each table that the wood used was handcrafted in Brooklyn from the surface of a bowling alley. Why did you need to tell me that? It doesn't make me enjoy my fast food any more. If its a way of shouting about how authentically American and retro you are then why try and be so British in your ingredient list and craft beers? This is where the main difference lies between Shake Shack in the US and over here. In the US it behaves as though it has nothing to prove and just offers good burgers at a good price. I think it got rather over hyped before the London opening and that has affected our perception.I do get that I'm probably thinking about this too deeply. Would I go again? Yes, if I was passing and hungry but even then I think MeatMarket might just edge it for me for the sake of an extra 50 metre or so walk. Had Shake Shack opened in London even three years ago we would all probably have been falling over ourselves with joy but London has become so burger savvy that its got to be something really incredible to turn our heads these days. Now I just need to go and try Five Guys.Shake Shack24, Market Building, The Piazza, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RD020 3598 1360
    More from Sybaricious »

  1. Those Americans have been invading London; during the summer we saw Five Guys and Shake Shack open in the Covent Garden area. One night “V” and I was on a spontaneous night out. It was around 7pm, stumbling around the Covent Garden market area, there was hardly and queues and we seized the chance. Given a menu, and only being slightly hungry I went for the “Shack Stack” and “Cheese Fries”. I love the branding; it’s cute, simple and inviting.

    Although the queues wasn’t so crazy, scouting for seats was a tricky business. Luckily we found seating outside, given a buzzer we waited patiently for it to vibrate. Actually I had to run to the ladies, and one of the workers kindly got our food so we didn’t have to leave our seats...
    More from The Food Connoisseur »

  1. Published : Thursday, 28 November 2013

    inher30s :: Shake Shack, Covent Garden

    The menu comprises of burgers and hot dogs in the meat category and frozen custards for dessert. I want a cream soda float, but for some strange reason despite the menu saying Cream soda, what the Covent Garden outlet actually serves is Fanta. Not cool.

    I order the Shack-Cago dog, a standard hot dog with all the best of the American condiments arranged on top – onion, mustard, relish and all that is good.

    The fries are pretty standard fare, but the dog is one of the best. Good quality meat, no nasty gritty bits and the toppings seal the deal...
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  1. I’ve got to admit, I enjoyed the hell out of my Shacktoberfest Brat Burger. I wasn’t even hungry yet somehow managed to eat the entire Angus beef burger topped with a flat-top griddled Emmanteler cheese bratwurst with crispy ShackMeister Ale-marinated shallots and ShackSauce (£7.75). Presented before me with buns agape and crispy shallots cascading into its paper tray, that burger demanded commitment. Luckily it was tasty and worth standing in the seemingly never diminishing queue at the four-month old, sole UK outlet of this celebrated American burger chain...
    More from Tiki Chris »

  1. Published : Thursday, 19 September 2013

    Munch My Way :: Shake Shack, Covent Garden

    The battle of the burger is becoming super competitive in London… With the arrival of Shake Shack from the US, I just have to give it a try… The reason why I try it so late is because I want it to settle down properly, to really see the full potential of Shake Shack and You know what, its pretty good. I heard of Shake Shack first from my good friend uploading a photo of it in NYC and it made me hungry… Thanks to Daniel Young from young&foodish i was able to realise that it was coming over…
    More from Munch My Way »

  1. Published : Tuesday, 27 August 2013

    Nomface :: Shake Shack, London

    Having seen the hordes of people queueing for the Shake Shack in Covent Garden at the launch and weeks after I decided to check out what all the fuss was about. With sizeable indoor and outdoor dining areas the rent for the floor space must be astronomical. I would later understand how the whole venture was viable.

    We visited on an overcast Thursday evening and thankfully the queue was only some twenty deep and it moved along swiftly...
    More from Nomface »

  1. Published : Sunday, 7 July 2013

    Samphire and Salsify :: Shake Shack Covent Garden

    Shake Shack originally started as a hot dog stand selling burgers in Madison Square Garden in Manhattan by a guy called Danny Meyer and it quickly became a hit. They’re now all over America and even in Turkey and the Middle East. It’s not just London that loves a good burger!

    It was a fairly straightforward set up – you queue up, order at the counter, they give you a buzzer, you frantically try and find a seat somewhere and then you go to the hatch to pick up your food when your buzzer buzzes...
    More from Samphire and Salsify »

  1. I went to Shake Shack on their opening day, Friday, July 5th but it was already too late, there was a big queue. 10 minutes queue for Five Guys the day before was ok but I didn't want to queue hours for a simple burger so I decided to wait that the hysteria of the opening disappears and return another day!
    So yesterday, I went to Shake Shack, no queue and I ordered the SmokeShack burger, cheese fries and a strawberry milkshake, my friends ordered the ShackBurger and normal fries...
    More from Frenchy love food »

  1. Shake Shack is located in the centre of the tourist trap that is Covent Garden. As much as I love Covent Garden, during summer it’s a nightmare. Mixing this alongside the new opening of Shake Shack (5th July), I stayed away for a week or two for the crowds to die down. This didn’t happen and we ended up going on a Saturday and queueing for 30 minutes...
    More from Ramblings of a Food Addict »

  1. Shake Shack is a small chain from New York and its opening in London attracted just as much fanfare as Five Guys’, if not more. The branch’s location in the South Hall of the covered market/shopping centre in the middle of Covent Garden, largely avoided by Londoners and now overrun with slow-moving tourists, raised alarm bells but the food wasn’t nearly as bad as it was at Five Guys...
    More from The Picky Glutton »

  1. Published : Wednesday, 17 July 2013

    Mrs Petticoat :: Shake Shack, London

    When US burger kingpins Shake Shack and Five Guys announced they were both opening new restaurants in London, I could practically feel the ground rumble from the collective sigh of the London foodie elite. That lot aren’t too happy about the burger invasion that’s been conquering our capital, but calm down folks, it’s a food-stuff, not the Third Reich...
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  1. New York has given me some great memories, the New York engagement to my wife won’t ever be beaten, but sampling a Shack Shake burger came pretty damn close (sorry love).

    It’s where my love affair for burgers started. Madison Park NYC, the year 2009, and I had eaten burgers before, of course, but none this good, I Just couldn’t get my head around it. A fast food burger? This good? Was I dreaming? No! The flavour was amazing and I have been yearning for that taste again, so you could imagine that when I heard the news that Shake Shack was coming to the UK, well to say I was over moon was an understatement...
    More from bloke does blog »

Essential Details for Shake Shack

  • Address: 23-47 The Market Building, Covent Garden Piazza ,London WC2E 8HD
  • Telephone: 020 3598 1360
  • Website:
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-11pm

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