Chestnut Hill: Shake Shack

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman, photos by Candice Dellaria

shack out Remember when you heard about Shake Shack in Manhattan in Madison Square Park? I do, in 2004 New York magazine did breathless. They showed New Yorkers! lined up for blocks waiting for burgers from a hot dog cart. Meat-free, I still wanted one. A two-hour wait not so much. Anyway, it is a winning concept, it must be, there are 21 outposts in Manhattan alone. And East Coast, West Coast, in between, plus Japan, Russia, Turkey, England and South Korea. And here. Shack in Chestnut Hill opened three years ago and there's Newbury Street, Cambridge, Dedham and downtown. From burgers and shakes to fries, chicken, custard, dogs, lemonade, beer and wine. Their own beer and wine. Even dog treats.

All good things start in Manhattan. Then they migrate. The purist's time lag: "I want it and I want it now" to, "I'll wait til it's on Netflix." It's not as if it goes bad. It's just later.

shack deck At the Chestnut Hill Shack, read the menu outside. No line today so we must know what to order pronto. "Please hold the" is no problem as in, hold the cheese. Shack rolls are potato, not wheat. Why? Here's one woman's say, Megan Gordon, who writes about food: Potato rolls in general. Lower gluten maybe but they still use wheat, moist for sure, and long shelf life. Anyway, potato is fine and would you run it through a hot kitchen?

shack fries Candice orders the mushroom, or as the Shack says, "the 'shroom with crisp-fried portobello filled with muenster and cheddar, and built with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce." It's crisp and cheesy. Sadly, Shack team is overboard on sauce. Other than that, it's piquant and not too big. The fries, let us go on about the virtue of crinkle fries. Crinkle fries with salt. Crinkley and crisp, bursting out of the bag. Almost hot but not, even with a request. Shack people: "Hotter, please."

shack baby burger The purist does pure with a juicy, charred burger, lettuce, tomato and sauce. As former culinary director Mark Rosati put it to editor Matt Duckor two years ago in Epicurious: "The idea behind the sauce is adding that flavor and lubrication that takes things from amazing to overdrive." No, Mr. Rosati, no. Shack people, dial it down.

Will I would go back? To see, will they take to hot rolls? Serve burning hot fries? Ease up on sauce? Add a fish? It's a sandwich shop thing really, what we called coffee shops in New York. Where are they now, coffee shops? Not places that sell coffee in a cardboard cup. They could do it but will they? Be America's coffee shop, Shake Shack.

Shake Shack
49 Boylston St (Route 9 West)
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
617. 651. 3406

© December 5, 2016 Candice Dellaria is an artist who lives in Boston. Kitty Kaufman is a Boston writer. See more of their adventures at Corporate Edge and follow Kitty on Twitter
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