Last time I was in New York I tried Shake Shack for the first time and added my name to the American burger chain's long list of fans from native New Yorkers to the NYFW clan and thousands of tourists. It started as a hot dog cart in Manhattan's Madison Square Park in 2001 and has pretty much reach cult status over the pond. And it's worth the hype, worth the queue.
London has enjoyed an explosion of burger joints in the past few years, including the opening of Shake Shack's first British outpost in the Covent Garden piazza earlier this summer. I used to live in Covent Garden years ago and if you wanted a cheap and cheerful dinner, it was slim pickings, but now there's an abundance of places, including Brasserie Blanc and Jamie Oliver's Union Jacks smack bang in the middle of the market, and now Shake Shack too.
We visited to relive the joys of our NYC trip, ordering classic cheese burgers, fries and, to try something new, a hot dog to share before finishing off with rich, creamy ice cream desserts. So good.
The burgers are made from 100% Aberdeen Angus beef from grass-fed cows in Scotland, cooked medium, served with big handfuls of fresh green lettuce leaves, large slices of tomatoes in buns which actually taste of bread and the classic ShackBurger is served smothered with its special ShackSauce. The Shack-cago Dog is made from German beef and covered with a zingy relish of onion, cucumber, picked, tomato, pepper, celery salt and mustard.
It also serves alcohol - from the list of beers and wines, as it was still summer (sob), we chose a nice pale rosé - and 'concretes', which are dense frozen custard ice cream blended with various naughty mix-ins like toffee, banana and hazelnut brownies thrown in.
If you haven't been yet, go. It puts fast food joints to shame with their poor quality, oily, flattened, miserable little beef patties and also manages to shows the casual burger restaurants that a good burger doesn't have to be £15. Plus I'd rather sit under the pretty glass roof of the historic market building. It's certainly nothing fancy, but it's good quality fast food at a good price.