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Thursday, February 12, 2015

We Ain't Beefin': Shake Shack (Buckhead)

Toddler Foodie Rating:  3.5 out of 5 Gummy Bears.  Raise to 4 Gummy Bears if your kids are 4 and up.

:) = Convenient location with ample parking that's free for the first hour.  High chairs.  Rooftop patio.  Burgers, hot dogs, and fries made with fresh, authentic, eco-friendly, grass-fed, organic, free-range, uncaged, uninhibited ingredients.  Fun variety of concrete (frozen custard) mix-ins and milkshake flavors.  Beer and wine for mommies and daddies.  Frozen treats for doggies.

:(  = It's hard for one parent to eat here alone with children under 4 years old.  You have to stand in line to place your order with the cashier, and the line can get really long (bring a stroller if you get there during busy hours).  Then you have to grab your food/drinks at the counter and your utensils, condiments, and water at the service area.  If you're alone with your little ones, you have the option to a) leave them at a table alone (okay, this really isn't an option when you have toddlers) or b) try to balance your tray with your little ones wrapped around your legs or clinging to your arms.  

Note:  Try the 'Shroom Burger.  No, seriously.  Try. The. 'Shroom Burger. 

Photo of 2-year-old Toddler Foodie , taken by 3-year-old Toddler Foodie.
Some of our little friends don't eat meat, especially not red meat.  Maybe they don't like the strong flavor or gristly texture of beef.  Or maybe their mommies and daddies don't eat red meat (or any meat) themselves.  Whatever the reason, there are little foodies out there who just aren't into hamburgers and steak the same way we are.  What options are available to them? 

We decided to investigate this question yesterday evening when we stopped by one of Atlanta's coolest new eateries, Shake ShackBy now, most tuned-in Atlantans have heard about Shake Shack.  The Atlanta location opened last year to much fanfare and has been a popular foodie attraction ever since.  The chain is known for its environment-friendly values and hip vibe.  (Oh, its yummy burgers and custard-based shakes are a plus, too.)  Atlanta's Shake Shack is located in the heart of "New Buckhead," right off Peachtree Rd.  There's a spacious parking deck behind the restaurant where parking is free for the first hour. 
Shake Shack... and the infamous line.
Photo Credit:
Many of the anecdotes we've heard about Shake Shack describe waiting in a long line to order your food.  When we arrived at 6:45 PM on a Wednesday, there was only one customer ahead of us in line; but by 7:30, there really was a line that spilled out onto the sidewalk.  Our advice is:  get there early if you're with your littles, or bring a lightweight stroller and a form of entertainment to keep them locked down and distracted while you're standing in line. 

Shake Shack's menu offers staples that you would expect from a burger joint (burgers, all-beef hot dogs, fries, shakes), but they also offer "concretes" (basically the same idea as a DQ Blizzard, but made with premium quality frozen custard), beer, wine, and doggie treats.  In keeping with our mission to hold the beef for this particular visit, we ordered the 'Shroom Burger, Chicken Dog, and cheese fries.  Thanks to the 'Shroom Burger, we did not miss the red meat one bit.  

Nope, no beef here!
Food (clockwise from top):  Cheese fries, 'Shroom Burger (vegetarian), & Chicken Dog (no red meat)

Shake Shack describes the 'Shroom Burger as a "crisp-fried Portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheese, topped with lettuce, tomato, and Shack Sauce."  First of all, we are flabbergasted at just how crisp that mushroom was.  The breading on the outside had a terrific crunch; yet the inside of the mushroom overflowed with earthy, smoky-flavored juice.  Even Daddy, who is the ultimate carnivore, expressed astonishment at the flavor packed in that mushroom and gobbled down our leftovers. 

The 'Shroom Burger stole the show, but the cheese fries played an important supporting role.  The fries themselves were pretty much your standard crinkle cut fries (albeit made from sustainable, earth-saving potatoes), but the cheese sauce - that cheese sauce was something special.  Even we could tell it didn't come out of a jar.  It had a rich, full dairy flavor and a slight tinge of sweetness.  Mommy said the cheese sauce tasted good because it was made with milk that came from cows who didn't eat medicine. 

"This cheese sauce is awesome.  Maybe
all cows should stay away from medicine."
The Chicken Dog was our least favorite item.  Perhaps we should have eaten it before trying the magical 'Shroom Burger and delectable cheese fries so we wouldn't have been so underwhelmed.  Or maybe we made a mistake when we decided to get it without any toppers.  Whatever our mistake was, we had to drown it in ketchup so it would live up to the rest of the food on our tray.  But - it was still nice to have it as an option, considering the other hot dogs were all-beef. 

"I guess I'll eat this Chicken Dog, since I finished
my portion of the 'Shroom Burger. More ketchup, please."

To complete our meal, we tried the Peachtree Milk Shake, which has fresh peaches and caramel.  That was an interesting flavor combination.  Next time, though, I think we'll try one of the concretes.  The shake was simple and didn't really feel like a dessert - we think Shake Shack really intended for it to be enjoyed with the meal. 

To end our evening, we did something that we haven't had a chance to do at any of the other restaurants we've visited:  we ordered a special treat for our security guard, Scrappy Doo Pham.  Because Scrappy is the best security guard in the world and deserves nothing but the best, we got him the "Pooch-ini" - a small cup of vanilla custard mixed with peanut butter sauce, topped with ShackBurger dog biscuits. 

"All those long nights guarding their cribs have finally paid off!"
We definitely have no beef with Shake Shack, and we'll visit again someday to try the famous burgers.  In the meantime, we are happy to report to our little vegetarian and semi-vegetarian friends that you, too, can have a spot in the Shake Shack line if you want it. 

Until next time, friends... happy eating!  And don't forget to check out our special edition Valentine's Day post if you haven't already - V-Day is just two days away!


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