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For “Steak ‘n Shake”

I have been making great progress so far crossing off many things from my 2012 to do list (for the complete list-  Every time I do I feel a great sense of satisfaction especially when it is something I have wanted to try for a while. Even better than that is when I get to eat something delicious.

I had heard about “Steak ‘n Shake” for several months now. Since I tried Five Guys last year ( and Shake Shack more recently (, I figured it was the final piece to the new trendy chains that serve burgers and fries. And who doesn’t love burgers and fries? So I was up to the challenge. After having a great experience at Shake Shack I figured I would love anything that had the word “Shake” in it. Plus it had that all too important validation from T.V.’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” in the Between Bread episode. Marc Summers describes how this is his favorite burger and raves about the quality of it. I guess once you go steakburger you never go back.

From my understanding what made this place stand out was that they only served steakburgers. Apparently a steakburger is of a higher quality and taste. I do not know much about this but I hear a lot of rave reviews. In my world a burger is a burger. But I am willing to learn.

This chain has only just opened its first location in N.Y.C. so I have been trying to work my way there. I have been close many times but no cigar. That is until I saw the play “Harvey” last week. It just so happens that “Steak ‘n Shake” is right around the corner. I got to cross these both off my list on the same evening.

Now since I had never been there and aside from Marc Summers, who went to one out of state, never known anyone who has been there, I had no idea what to expect in terms of the atmosphere. Would it be big or small? I had seen the menu online but I that doesn’t really help. Whereas Shack Shake is infamous for their crowds and long lines and even have a web cam for the main location. However I was going into this experience cold and when you are a planner like me that is scary. But I was a big girl and went for it.

From the outside it looks like a diner from the 1950s. It is clean and cute and looks rather large in size. I assumed it would be crowded but in my mind I also thought it would be more like a restaurant and less like a fast food stand. When my friend and I walked in I was immediately confused. The line was short and you placed your order right away. The menu seemed smaller to me than the one I had seen online. You were handed a buzzer while you waited for your order to be made literally two feet from where you were standing. The seats that were closest in proximity were taken so I went to the back of the restaurant thinking I could get seats there. There looked like empty space. But when I walked to the back there was just empty space, no seats at all. I didn’t understand the layout. There was maybe fifteen seats total. I guess it was mostly a takeout restaurant. That is so not the impression I was under.

But after only a few minutes and without any stalking or violence on my part, I got a table. Turnover was really quick. Our food was fast as well. Although we didn’t get any of the shakes I could see the machine where they were made and other people who had them. They looked like a cross between a McFlurry and an old school shake that has whipped cream and a cherry on top.

The burgers looked and tasted like regular burgers. You add your toppings as you like but they were the usual choices. Condiments were ketchup, mustard, and/or mayo. There is no special sauce like at Shake Shack. After I took my first bite I was waiting for some great big moment of, oh that’s what a steakburger tastes like. But that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong it was a perfectly good burger and larger than at the kind they serve at Shake Shack. But it was average tasting. I wouldn’t have known where it came from and honestly it wasn’t worth going out of your way for. I am glad I didn’t end up having to.

The fries were the most disappointing. They were cut into tiny bits and pieces and were so annoying to eat. I had put some in my burger. I usually do that anyway for some crunch but this was just to make less of a mess. It didn’t really work. It would have been easy to hold the container to my mouth and just “drink” them down. They were not enjoyable and for me to say that about a French fry let alone anything that is fried is sad. I am even surprising myself.

I had gotten an iced tea to drink and that was enormous. It made no sense. I don’t remember ordering a size or being asked about one. That ended up in the garbage after like five sips.

Overall it was an okay experience if you know are in a hurry and need to eat something fast and are in the area. I wouldn’t plan a day or event around it. I certainly won’t be going back any time soon.

Since my visit I have done some research and according to their website:

“Steak ‘n Shake was founded in February, 1934 in Normal, Illinois. Gus Belt, Steak ‘n Shake’s founder, pioneered the concept of premium burgers and milk shakes. For over 75 years, the company’s name has been symbolic of its heritage. The word “steak” stood for STEAKBURGER. The term “shake” stood for hand-dipped MILK SHAKES. Gus was determined to serve his customers the finest burgers and shakes in the business. To prove his point that his burgers were exceptionally prime, he would wheel in a barrel of steaks (including round, sirloin, and T-bones) and grind the meat into burgers right in front of the guests. Hence arose the origin of our famous slogan, ‘In Sight It Must Be Right.’”

If you say so.

To plan your visit:


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