Let me preface this post by outlining I do not like condiments. I hate vinegar. I hate mustard. I hate mayo. All burgers I eat are ordered sans condiments and that’s the way I like it. What I am trying to say is, yes I am different to the majority (don’t judge!) but as all my burgers are ordered sans condiments they’re on a level playing field, even if they are different to the ‘real deal’.
In our last blog post Dylan put Minetta Tavern’s ‘Black Label Burger’ up against Rockpool Bar & Grill’s ‘David Blackmore’s Full Blood Wagyu Hamburger’. This time around I’m putting New York’s Shake Shack up against Melbourne’s Huxtaburger.
A number of people had told me Shake Shack burgers are the best in the world. While others said In-And-Out on the west coast are better, all agreed Shake Shack was a must-do when in New York. I love a good burger and was not going to miss out on trying potentially the world’s best burger. Shake Shack flew straight to the top of my New York eats list.
What is Shake Shack? Back in 2001 a hot dog cart was set up in Madison Square Park to support a temporary art installation. The cart was a success and ran for a few summers before the team were awarded the contract to create a permanent food kiosk in the park; Shake Shack was born.
From its humble beginnings Shake Shack has grown into a much larger brand. There are around a dozen Shake Shacks in New York and a dozen or so more nationwide. They’ve also expanded across the seas, to the Middle East, Turkey and most recently the United Kingdom, with an outlet also scheduled to open in Russia soon.
The original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park is notorious for its queues. Sitting in your office and wondering how long the line at Shake Shack is? No worries, jump online and check out The Shack Cam, live video streaming of the queue!
Although Shake Shack was high on my New York eats list we had somehow been in New York for FOUR whole days and hadn’t been! But then after a day checking out the Space Shuttle Enterprise we needed a feed. It was 3pm. We decided it was the perfect time to hit Shake Shack and (hopefully) avoid the queues. Lucky for us the staff were efficient and the line moved quickly, the wait was only ten minutes. I also love that they have a ‘C-Line’ for people just wanting to order cold menu items.
Shake Shack – ShackBurger – Cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce (US$4.60).
So what is on the Shake Shack menu? Burgers, hot dogs, fries, shakes and custards (ice cream with mix-ins, similar to a McFlurry). I knew what I was having before I left Australia. A ShackBurger, Vanilla Shake and Fries.
First things first. If you don’t like sauce don’t be a fool, don’t order the ShackBurger sans ShackSauce like I did. You’re after a Cheeseburger, idiot! No it’s not on the menu per se, but that’s what you want. In my defence I wanted to ensure I was getting the ShackBurger, just without the sauce. I didn’t know if there was a difference with the other burgers. Anyway…
Wrapped up in a grease proof bag this little baby starts with a super soft burger bun. Next up is the beef patty made from 100% Angus beef cooked medium. Then there are slices of plum tomato, bib lettuce and a slice of cheese in all its melty, golden glory.
As I bit in my eyes almost popped out of my head. Soft, buttery, sweet burger bun gave way to the epically juicy, nicely seasoned meat patty (still pink!) and then the fresh salad popped its head in. Oh. My. Goodness. A melt in the mouth bun that has got to be the best burger bun ever invented. The meat was cooked perfectly to deliver the juiciest fast food burger patty I’ve ever tasted.
And so of course we returned to Shake Shack twice more during our two week stay in NYC. A few days after our first visit we found ourselves at Shake Shack in the Theater District. Both Dylan and I decided to devour a Double ShackBurger. Double the meat patty did not equal double the awesome for me, I found the meat overpowered the perfect balance that is achieved with the single ShackBurger. Though a Chocolate Shake made a mighty fine appearance in all its chocolaty goodness.
A few days later we once again found ourselves at Shake Shack, this time at Battery Park City. For what we knew would be our last Shake Shack visit we decided to return to the single ShackBurger. While the wait at Battery Park City was the longest, the burgers were not as good as the others we’d had. The staff here seemed run off their feet and the output not as impressive as at Madison Square Park who no doubt have more queues and pressure than any other outlet.
This time around we decided to go all out and try the Cheese Fries. Whoa these babies were intense. Loads of melty cheesy sauce lathered all over the fries. While they were nice to try I’ve decided I’d prefer to save stomach space for pure ShackBurger goodness. The Black & White Shake on the other hand was my favourite of all the shakes I tried. It’s not just half chocolate and half vanilla, it’s greater than the sum of its parts. After the intensity of the Cheese Fries and Shake the Shack-made Lemonade was a welcome respite, not too sweet and just the right amount of lemony goodness.
Back in Australia I had major post NYC blues. I needed more burgers. Just as I’d been hearing all about Shake Shack, I’d also been hearing all about Melbourne’s Huxtaburger. Dylan and I hadn’t been to Melbourne for three years. Three years too long. A sneaky weekend away was in order and the first port of call was Huxtaburger for a burger fix.
What is Huxtaburger? In 2011 the guys from Melbourne’s Huxtable Restaurant opened a burger joint in Collingwood to bring awesome burgers to the people of Melbourne. They were on to a winning thing and following its huge success they opened a CBD venue earlier this year.
Huxtaburger – Huxtaburger – beef pattie, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce, pickles (AU$8.50).
While many argue what the best burger on the menu is I had to stick with the basics and opt for the Huxtaburger. With my dislike of condiments it is to be expected that every now and then the order will go wrong. Dylan ordered sans mustard, mayo and tomato sauce but the guy unfortunately thought he said no mustard, mayo or pickle. Although my special order went a little astray I’ve got to praise the team at Huxtaburger for fixing the mistake within minutes and without fuss. No harm done.
Take two in hand it was time to dig in. My burger was a monstrosity. Again it was great to see real tomato and lettuce on the burger, none of that shredded, flavourless, soggy stuff thank you very much.
Sesame seeds adorned the soft and slightly sweet bun. Nowhere near as sweet as the Shake Shack bun, nor did it melt on the tongue, but many would prefer this style. Huxtaburger’s beef patties are made from 100% Wagyu beef and super tasty with a hefty peppery hit. Finished with a mountain of crispy iceberg, juicy tomato and an melting slice of cheddar, this burger was a lot harder to get my mouth around that the ShackBurger. But it was a seriously good burger.
Huxtaburger – Denise (the hot one) – Huxtaburger with jalapeno and sriracha mayo (AU$9.50).
No surprises for guessing which burger Dylan chose. Of course the jalapeños and sriracha mayo caught his attention so it was the Denise for him. ‘The hot one’ is a bit of an exaggeration, it was more like ‘the mild one’. Jalapeños and sriracha mayo brought a slight spicy element to the burger and while it all worked well Dylan actually preferred the regular Huxtaburger.
The big let down was the Chipotle Fries. We were both expecting a nice smoky chilli hit to the fries but the chipotle was far milder than anticipated and we found them to be rather dry and lacking. With no shakes on the CBD menu we downed a mighty fine Fever-Tree Ginger Beer with our burgers.
The Huxtaburger was good. It was damn good. But I don’t think it ever quite stood a chance against Shake Shack which completely won me over. At the end of the day the burgers are quite different and good in their own right. Huxtaburger may not have won this time around but there’s no denying it’s one of Melbourne’s best.
Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)
South-east corner of Madison Square Park
(at East 23rd Street and Madison Avenue)
New York NY 10010
+1 212 889 6600
Shake Shack Website
Fulham Place, Shop 11, 357 Collins Street
(access from Fulham Place off Flinders Lane)
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9417 6328