Shake Shack

Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack to Open in London’s Covent Garden in 2013? That’s hands down the most exciting restaurant news I’ve heard in months.

Whilst it seems like almost every other day that I get a press release telling me about something new and shiny opening up in Covent Garden: the Chanel Beaute pop up, Opening Ceremony, Laduree, Manhattan’s Balthazar (I used to breakfast there almost every morning when I was at The Wall Street Journal, to the point where I didn’t have to order), and more, it wasn’t always this way.

Between the ages of about eight and eleven we spent hours in Covent Garden poking around the shops in the colonnades – my mother used to get her hair cut at Trevor Sorbie – and so did we (our father was for a period, publisher of Hairdresser’s Journal) but, since I’ve lived in London as an adult, I’ve barely stepped foot in the Market, unless there was a fashion show during LFW in the Opera House, or I was hoofing it through, swiping anorak-clad tourists out of my path, en route to Long Acre on a Whistles mission.

Things are changing: Laduree’s opening was definitely the thin end of the wedge, and now that so many  interesting restaurants are all opening up in the heart of Covent Garden, I can guarantee I’ll be haunting the place next year.

Especially with today’s announcement that Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack will be opening in the Market Building in mid-2013, the first-ever restaurant in the UK for his Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). Mr Meyer is one of New York’s pre-eminent restaurateurs, known  for his impeccable sourcing too. Amongst his portfolio are three of the most enduring’s excellent household name restaurants in the city: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and The Modern. (The latter being one of my favourites in the city.)

But Shake Shack is a different beast altogether.

The first outlet opened in the shadow of skyscrapers and the FlatIron Building, inside the small but perfectly formed green space of Madison Square Park in 2004, and bills itself as a modern day “roadside” burger stand serving all-natural burgers, flat-top dogs, frozen custard, beer, wine and more.

There are now a bunch of Shake Shacks throughout the city – there’s even one at the new Yankees Stadium in The Bronx, which puts a new spin on sports catering, but on a nice day there’s still a mental line at the original Madison Park shack at peak times. (I used to go at 4pm or in the middle of ice-cold winters to ensure no queues.)

I first mentioned Shake Shack on LLG all the way back in 2007 when I wrote my first restaurant review round up of New York City and, checking my archives, it’s been a fairly constant presence in my New York adventures. That’s because, whilst I understand the burgers to be extremely good, I have a laser-guided lust thing with the Shroom Burger.

Shroom Burger Shake Shack

The Shroom Burger is a puck-shaped, deep fried and breaded portabello mushroom filled with an good inch of molten Muenster & Cheddar cheeses, enclosed with tomato & lettuce in the freshest, softest griddled potato bun. (The first time I bit into one back in 2007 I thought I was getting a bog standard vegeburger. Upon hitting the crispy, mushroom-y, cheesy heaven I actually groaned aloud in pleasure. Sorry, Philip.)

The French fries are crinkle cut for extra fluffy insides & perfectly crispy exteriors and, even having troughed down all those calories, it’s hard to resist the ludicrous Shack Attack: dense frozen chocolate custard blended with Valhrona chocolate pieces, fudge chunks, truffle cookie dough and chocolate sprinkles.

I do hope that they will be bringing over the  Pooch-Ini too, as I feel Posetta Baddog would find this more than acceptable on a sunny spring day: Vanilla ice-cream, peanut butter & dog biscuits.

Do hurry up Mr Meyer. I can practically taste that molten cheese…

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Great news, Convent Garden has always been a place that I loved. One note Yankee stadium is in the Bronx and Citi Field, The Mets Stadium is in Queens.


@Angela: I am an idiot! Of course I knew that, having been to both. I have corrected. Thank you LLGxx


BEST NEWS EVER! I had this for the first time in NY in october and it was epic! we had to queue for like 40 mins but it was so worth it


Excellent news!


Well, I hope the food tastes better than it looks on their website.


I just booked in for lunch with my mum at The Modern next week on the strength of your rec – it better be good! 😉


@today for jane: How was lunch BTW? I went there last with my parents, so am hoping it worked for your mother too…LLGxx


I moved to London from New York earlier this year and am so freaking excited for Shake Shack. Now, if only they would add it in the middle of the park a la Madison Square Park. Stiil, enough complaining—I’ll take what I can get!


@Second Floor Flat: ooh but WHICH park? I vote for Regent’s, purely out of geographical selfishness…LLGxx


This is simultaneously great news and about the most irritating blog I have ever had the misfortune of landing on.

I have my breakfast at this very expensive restaurant every day, my mum gets her hair cut at Trevor Sorbie.

Stop banging on about your facile life and tell us about the bloody burgers…


Unfortunately I doubt you will be back to see what effect your gratuitously nasty words have provoked, as you will be too busy being superior elsewhere.

Perhaps, as a journalist, you could devote some of your time to investigating what kind of person sits in judgement upon those whose perceived transgression is providing some diversion and enjoyment to others?

I could argue that offering such escapism, in a world in which trolls seek to assert their superiority by belittling others, is an essential counterbalance to the increasing prevalence of mean-spirited misogynists.


@Tom: Dear Tom. I have already written to you, expressing my disbelief that a professional journalist would leave such a comment on a personal blog. And now you are calling me a ‘monster with a paperthin skin’ on Twitter for having done so.

I normally just publish troll-action because, although it is generally vile, I find it amusing. You are the only troll I have ever bothered to email directly, precisely because you *are* a hack (which I know because you left your email address), have accountability to the public, and I felt it important to address the difference between a personal blog and a news report, which, in your comment, you seemed to not understand.

You also failed to note that I was talking about the past, and made assumptions about me which, if you had bothered to read it properly, would have obviously been in error. (The haircuts were because my father was in the industry, and the breakfasts were work meetings.)

I’m sorry that you think eating and getting your hair done are part of a ‘facile life’ but unfortunately I think you’ll find that most of the population indulge in both.

As you’ve already told me you won’t be returning, there is no need to ask you to take your casual misogyny elsewhere, ia there?

Dear readers: this is the man whose sole response to my email was to tell me he thought me ‘a bit of a div’, and who then told me on Twitter to go off and watch re-runs of Sex & The City’.

I do wonder what the fashion & lifestyle department colleagues on The Independent think of this man, who seems to hold everything they do in such contempt.



Oi, Tom, leave LLG alone. She writes beautifully about beautiful things, on the side of her day job – what’s wrong with that? Just because she doesn’t devote her personal blog to bemoaning spending cuts, tax-dodging corporations and the rough treatment of Julian Assange, doesn’t mean she is out of touch with the real world nor deserves such vitriol. And I don’t think having a sister suffering from MS counts as having a ‘facile’ life. If her blog is not your thing, I don’t know why you’d waste your time on it.


What a friendly, polite man you are Tom. The Independent must be so pleased to have you.

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