New York’s current gastronomic invasion of London, following Balthazar et al, continues apace. Now the city’s beloved Shake Shack comes to Covent Garden. Celebrated restaurateur Danny Meyer’s “roadside” burger institution was born in NYC’s Madison Square Park back in 2004, and its popularity – not to mention justifiably long queues – has hardly waned.
The Shake Shack opens on July 5 in London’s historic Market Building and is the first UK outpost for the Union Square Hospitality Group, following a cluster of locations in the US, plus Istanbul and Dubai. Alongside a reclaimed wood vibe (think Victorian pine and tabletops sourced from bowling alleys), the London Shack will also feature a large outdoor seating area and a light-filled glass atrium.
Most importantly, the London Shack menu promises established favourites, with ingredients mostly sourced from across the UK, from the signature ShackBurger (pictured) to the ’Shroom Burger and the Shack-cago Dog, while the ShackMeister Sausage (£5) has been created for the London outpost, using Cumberland pork sausage topped with cheese and ale-marinated shallots. Drinks include craft beers and wines, as well as a Shack Red and Shack White that are bottled exclusively for Shake Shack by the venerable Frog’s Leap Winery in Napa Valley. House-made lemonade, root beer from Louisiana and fresh brewed iced tea will round out the summer offerings.
The pièces de résistance, however, will be the “concretes” – Shack-speak for the best frozen custard ice creams you’ll ever taste – which are a major draw at the restaurants both in the US and abroad. The London Shack will introduce a new line of delicious ice-cream blends that are reflective of Britain: the Union Shack (chocolate custard, St John Bakery chocolate hazelnut brownie, fudge sauce and Paul A Young chocolate chunks with salt); the Drury Lane Jam (vanilla custard, local strawberry jam, St John Bakery brown sugar biscuit and banana); and the Sticky Toffee (vanilla custard, chocolate toffee, chocolate chunks, caramel sauce and malt powder). If those in other Shacks are any indicator, they’ll be a highlight worth mainlining.
To top it all off, London Shack will be partnering with the Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust, a community centre serving disadvantaged youth, families and the elderly. Five per cent of sales from the restaurant’s Big Biend concrete (chocolate and vanilla custard, brown sugar biscuit and chocolate hazelnut brownie) will go towards helping the programme – and Shake Shack staff will volunteer with the organisation as well.
Those who haven’t sampled Shake Shack’s delights further afield, ready yourselves – these may seem simple burgers and shakes, but they’re not as you know them.