clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Early Word on Shake Shack's First London Location

New, 1 comment

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Photo: Julie Falconer

Just two weeks ago, Londoners — and American transplants — went collectively berserk as Shake Shack at long last opened the doors to its first-ever UK location. And, just as with US openings, Danny Meyer's cultishly beloved and expansion-minded burger chain elicited some pretty big lines in London.

In the weeks since, Brits and Americans alike have weighed in on Shake Shack's burgers, fries, concretes, and more. Since Shake Shack is sort of a known quantity, there were unsurprisingly all kinds of comparisons to the chain's New York locations. Plenty of folks also drew comparisons to the Five Guys that opened in London around the same time, and to London's existing burger restaurants. Here's a look at how Shake Shack stacked up for the early diners:

The Guardian critic Marina O'Loughlin compared Shake Shack with London's existing burger restaurants and wasn't too pleased with what she found. O'Loughlin found Shake Shack's patties "anaemic," and the buns "muffin-like," concluding: "Famous US chain opens in the UK; we're meant to swoon at its majesty. Not buying." [The Guardian]

The Evening Standard's Grace Dent also did a burger comparison between Shake Shack and its fellow American newcomer Five Guys. This time, the Shack crushed the competition. Dent reports that there wasn't a line at all when she hit up Shake Shack at 11:30 a.m. for a SmokeShack burger. The verdict: "It was the best burger I've ever eaten. Damn these burger wizards!" [ES]

Metro UK's Christopher Hooton offers the rundown on the hamburger restaurant that he writes "falls somewhere in between a McDonald's experience and a sit-down gourmet burger experience." Hooton recommends the SmokeShack, Shroom Burgers, and concretes, and declares that Shake Shack truly does deliver. Sure, Covent Garden is "a very public place to be stuffing a large piece of meat into your face, but the flavours are great and the price is modest." [Metro UK]

A Hamburger Today's London correspondent Ibrahim Salha writes that Shake Shack "seems set up for success ... they'll have to do something drastic to fail." And, fortunately, it doesn't seem as though failure is imminent. Salha approves of the UK-sourced beef, noting that it "is plenty fatty and very tasty. They've clearly spent a long time finding the right meat." Indeed, the one real complaint in this early look had to do with the sear on the burger, which "didn't have that desirable, Maillard-reacted crust like the ones I've experienced in New York City." [SE]

First We Feast enlists British Person Sarah Mei, who has visited Shake Shack in New York, to do the requisite comparison. Seems she had been among the hordes of Londoners awaiting the opening with bated breath and it did not disappoint: "My ShackBurger was just as good as any that I've had Stateside, the patty was juicy and the garnish and sauce did the job. The fries, although a little cold, tasted divine. ... I nearly kissed the waitress who offered me a free large tub of Sticky Toffee Concrete which I ate after the tub of Coffee and Donuts Frozen Custard I already had lined up on my tray." [First We Feast]

Gothamist's Garth Johnston just so happened to be in London for Shake Shack's debut and also does the New York/London comparison thing. Though he says that the London outpost is decent enough if you're jonesing for an American burger, there are some critical differences. The good news is that the fries are a bit better than those in New York, but as for the rest: "The buns, always my favorite part of a Shackburger, are slightly less bouncy, moist and flavorful than the ones back home. The 100% Scottish beef in the burger is drier and distinctly less flavorful than the magical mixture that Pat LaFrieda whips up for the Gotham Shacks." [Gothamist]

And what do the reliable reviewers on Yelp think about Shake Shack London? Well, so far it is doing really well with four and a half stars after 18 reviews filed. Though a couple of people gave it just three stars for the price and failure to meet their high expectations, most of the other reviews are flat-out raves. And yes, duh, to the point of hyperbole. Amanda F. writes, "It's amazing. Go here. the shack sauce changes lives. Don't believe the haters. (I'm looking at you, Guardian!)" [Yelp]

Blogger Ramblings of a Food Addict doesn't waste any time in getting to the point with a headline that reads "DISAPPOINTMENT AT SHAKE SHACK." She complains that the burger-getting process at Shake Shack "is not something that works" given the long wait and how hard it is to find somewhere to sit. As for the burger: "The meat didn't feel and taste like good quality beef and the bun was too soft and thin and very similar to the buns served at McDonald's. I wouldn't be surprised if they were the same! ... I think it's fair to say that the toppings make the burger otherwise all your left with a McDonald's burger bun with poor quality beef." [Ramblings of a Food Addict]

Shake Shack

41 The Market, Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom

Sign up for the Sign up for the Eater newsletter

The freshest news from the food world every day