My Twitter feed is set up such that I barely ever know what is going on around me in Boston but I can tell you immediately when there is an earthquake in Los Angeles or it is raining in San Diego. As such, all I’ve been reading about today is the opening of a Shake Shack in Los Angeles.
Up until now I generally decline to participate in the American Regional Fast Food Burger Wars as it’s the gastronomical equivalent of arguing whether something is called “soda” or “pop.” You know where I am from. You know what my favorite fast food burger place is. I know where you are from. I know what your favorite fast food burger place is. But seeing photos of people in West Hollywood lined up around the corner to have a freaking Shake Shack burger just made me feel so bad for them.
Listen people, Shake Shack is not that good. They are not bad at what they do. But they are also not good at what they do. Here is a brief bullet point list of reasons:
- The Burgers: There is literally nothing special about their burger. The burger and bun are indistinguishable, in many ways, from dozens of burgers I can get in the Boston area (Uburger, Roxy’s, Burgerfi etc.), so I’m assuming it’s just like the dozens of burgers you can get in your town too. The one exception being that the meat lacks flavor and they overcompensate by putting horseradish in the sauce (a la Arby’s). So yeah, Shake Shack is like the Arby’s of burger restaurants. They should be so proud.
- The Shakes: I have never had a “concrete” from Shake Shack that was not a liquid mess on receipt because it takes them a freaking hour to cook a freaking burger (that still manages to be raw in the middle half the time) and 2 minutes to make a concrete and they set the ice cream products under a heat lamp while they wait to be combined with your burger. I know, I know. They have a separate line for shakes and you’re supposed to order separately. Bitch, I’m not standing in line twice for your shitty-assed fast food to go. You are a fast food restaurant and you offer a limited menu consisting of burgers, hot dogs and ice cream products. Learn to prepare them all at the same time.
- The Fries: They serve crinkle cut fries. This is not even worthy of further discussion.
Also, while I’m dipping my toes into this quagmire of burger opinions, I’ll go a step further. Five Guys not that good either. So what if they have a million options? The more combinations of burgers you can create, the more chance of stumbling on one that is terrible. This message can be expanded to all restaurants that give you five thousand options for things (of which there are many): You are a restaurant. Your job is to combine ingredients in a way that tastes good, and provide me with a listing of a finite number of outcomes (this listing is sometimes referred to as a “Menu”). This activity is a really important part of your job and is a large percentage of what I am paying you for.
So back to you, Five Guys, your burgers are underseasoned, your buns are dry and bland, and you rely on 17 different topping options as a crutch to cover it up. No thanks.