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Can anyone report on what the prices are like?

As of yesterday the menu still said "Preview Menu" or something similar so I didn't want to photograph it or post the numbers. Prices are very reasonable in my opinion. Today is the official opening day. Tomorrow I will be in the neighborhood and will try to take notes on the official menu.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Great, great pics.

I wonder with the single pat of the hamburger patty on the grill if they're trying to emulate Steak and Shake. There they take an ice cream scoop of ground beef, fling it on the grill and then flatten it with a spatula. Showmanship and a nice loose patty.

The dogs. I'm assuming they're grilled if they are Vienna Beef cooked Chicago style. But I'd like the Taxi dog better if it was grilled, though I'm assuming they are replicating vendor dirty water dogs. What about the bun? Toasted, steamed?

Did I miss a mention of fries? Are they on the menu? If so, non-shoestring, fresh cut and fried twice. Say yes, and I'm hopping the next train, make that the next Accela to New York.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Since I work only a few blocks away, I visited the Shake Shack during lunch today. What a madhouse!!! The line to order was 40 deep. Then you get to wait on the line to pickup which was also 20 deep. I don't think they've quite figured out the best way to keep things moving yet. I'm sure it'll improve once they've been open awhile. There were a few people inside that were very busy and others that were just standing around. I'm not sure they expected this volume.

I had both the taxi dog and the Chicago hot dog. Both good but the taxi dog doesn't look anywhere as nice as it did in the pictures above. The taxi dog was $2.25 and the Chicago dog was $2.50. Burgers range from $3.95 to $5.95. I also had a large chocolate shake for $4.45.

One big issue with the menu is that it's non-descriptive. No one knows what's in anything except maybe the 'shroom burger. I saw a section for concrete and had no idea what it was. Now, looking back through the forum, I see that it's the frozen custard that I should have gotten instead of the shake.

We'll see how things go. I'll stop by again in a few weeks to see if business is still booming and whether they've improved their throughput.

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Add me to the list of Shake Shack fans. I was scared away by the lines at 1, went back at 330, waited only a couple minutes. I ate:

-Chicago Dog: very good, condiments were perfect, only the bun(a bit chewy) and the lack of grilling(a personal preference) prevents it from being truly excellent

-Shack Burger: basically a cheeseburger as seen above with a mayonnaise-y 'shack sauce' liberally applied. the sirloin/brisket mix produces an incredibly beefy flavor for a burger, and the toasted bun provides the necessary contrast in texture.

-Black/White Shake: happy to report that the shakes are consistent with the excellent vanilla custard i sampled during the Q fest and over the course of last week. cant wait to try the concretes, or the 'shack-o-cino' shake

avoid the weekday lunch lines, but get thee to the shack sometime soon

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Cheese is added, the burger is placed on a buttered toasted-on-griddle Martin's potato roll, condiments are added and the burger is wrapped for handheld eating.

I love that they're using Martin's potato rolls. That is also my bun of choice for home grilled burgers :smile: I need to get over there...

Jennie

Jennie Auster aka "GIT"

Gastronome in Training

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Hmm. Well, the cheeseburger was very good. Otherwise.....

...well, much of what was otherwise can be ascribed to opening day snafus. Most of the kinks will probably be worked through with time, experience, and simple adjustments. But they have a long way to go before Shake Shack is anything like a smoothly running establishment.

First, the lines, which have been alluded to. Taking a page from my Barbeque Block Party experience, I showed up right at noon, when the line was only about 15 or 20 people. But with only two registers and unfamiliarity on the part of both customers and order takers, that translated to over ten minutes in line. The bigger issue was the "line" to get your food. There's really no reason to be standing around waiting for your name to get called, but since no one expects it will take as long as it does and since they have no good way of announcing orders over long distances, everyone ends up crowding the pickup window and a line forms behind them.

They essentially lost my order for a few minutes, so I got a good hunk of time at the pickup window to observe what the trouble was. The problem was not a matter of potential throughput--at least not on the burgers and dogs. There was plenty of open griddle space available. Rather it was a matter of anticipating orders to keep a steady stream of food coming. Instead, they'd grill up a batch of burgers--which wouldn't be quite enough to fill the orders already waiting, and only then once those got handed out get started on a new batch for the orders that came in the meantime.

If they had burgers ready, they didn't have fries, or vise-versa. Meantime my order ticket (held up for lack of fries) happened to be in the hand of the expediter when she was called away for something, and then absentmindedly forgot about it. I didn't mind--it's the sort of thing I would do--but it was indicative of the poor coordination in there this afternoon.

Next, the menu. It's very nice looking and evokes the upscale twist on the greasy spoon feel that Danny Meyer is going for. But it's chock full of cutesy names for things with not a single word in the way of description. I probably heard the question "what the hell is a Shack Burger?" four or five times in my two times through the line. I asked it myself (more politely) when I got to the register. Of course questions like this only make the ordering line move more slowly, and the Shack Burger is far from the only culprit.

What's the difference between a Chicago Dog and a Taxi Dog? What's the difference between a Concreation and a Concrete Jungle? What the hell is in a Shackapalooza to make it worth 10 dollars? No answers posted anywhere, on the menu or otherwise. How much wine do you get for your $13-24? The answer to that question (a half bottle) is only posted by the pickup window, when it's too late to order wine anyways.

And then, in a category by itself in both its physical placement on the menu and its, um, uncertain etymology, stands an item described only as a Poochini. I mean, come on. I'm sorry. Poochini???!? :blink: I'm at a loss. Is this supposed to be some sort of homage to Beavis & Butthead?? ("You will give me crapuccino! Crapuccino for my bunghole!!") No one in line around me was asking about the Poochini, probably because they were too embarrassed to say the word out loud.

So the food?

Well my cheeseburger was great. Nice sear on the patty, wonderful meaty taste from the sirloin/brisket mix, perfect melty gooeyness from the American cheese and soft potato bun. Very tasty without losing juiciness; just the right amount of grease. As usual, Fat Guy puts it perfectly. "Totally outstanding for its type" is exactly right.

That type is not Steak 'n Shake, by the way, although there are similarities. The Shake Shack burger is considerably thicker; thick enough that it would make sense to ask for one medium-rare, although with things as disorganized as they were today I wouldn't be confident of recieving it that way. (The idea of a medium-rare burger at Steak 'n Shake is more a matter for abstract philosphy, sort of like contemplating the sound of one hand clapping.) This burger is seared on either side with plenty of meat in between, whereas a Steak 'n Shake burger is essentially all sear. And the edges here are not nearly as irregular.

From what I remember (it's been a while since I was on that coast), the style is much closer to In-N-Out. And I'd be tempted to say the Shake Shack pulls it off better, although I'll have to defer to tasters with more In-N-Out experience than me.

The fries were merely just fine. Very standard crinkle-cut french fries, really nothing special about them. Also nothing wrong: the oil was fresh; they weren't overdone; and they were plentiful and cheap by Shake Shack standards. They make a nice companion to the burger, but wouldn't stand up on their own IMO.

By the time I'd waited for and eaten my burger and fries, the line had about doubled. But I had come there to try a hot fudge-banana concrete, and try it I would. So I get to the window after fifteen minutes or so, and order:

me: "One hot fudge-banana concrete, please."

server: "What?"

me: "A hot fudge and banana concrete?"

server: "Oh! A concrete?"

me: "Yep."

server: "Ok, one Concrete Jungle."

me: "What? Oh. Um, so is a Concrete Jungle, like, supposed to be a concrete with stuff mixed in?" Like there's any other kind.

server: "Uhhuh. Vanilla or chocolate?"

me: "Wha...um..." I realized she meant I could choose to have chocolate frozen custard as the base for the concrete. This was not an auspicious sign. "Uh, vanilla."

server: "One vanilla concrete jungle with hot fudge."

me: ...

server: ...

me: "...uh, and banana."

server: "And hot fudge and banana?"

me: "Hot fudge and banana."

server: "Seven dollars and eleven cents."

First I should emphasize that the problem here wasn't that it was hard to hear, or that I have some sort of speech impediment or something. We were just speaking different languages.

And second, $7.11 (or whatever it was; it was something like that) is a lot of money for ice cream. I know this is New York, but still, we're talking literally almost exactly double the price of a medium two-flavor concrete at Ted Drewes. (This was slightly smaller than a medium, which is a good size.)

I took a nice stroll around the park before I headed over to the pickup window to find a soupy milkshake-consistency contraption being poured into an open cup. That it's sitting there without a lid on it means it's supposed to be a concrete. I realize that after a pretty long while by this point of hanging around the pickup window and also watching people around the Shack, mine is the first concrete I've seen all day. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if I was the first person to order a concrete period.

The person making it clearly knows whatever she came up with isn't right. So does the manager type who comes over to throw it out and make a new one. What she comes up with, though, isn't so much better.

For one thing, the consistency is all wrong. Much much too soupy to deserve anything like the name concrete. If you turned it upside down, it would not even plop; it would pour.

Much of the problem is due to temperature. Ted Drewes gets this way after about ten minutes outside on a hot summer night. The concrete I was served was barely cold; in fact, it was warmer than the bottle of water I'd bought. At Ted Drewes they package every to-go order with dry ice. This is why.

Next, it was very incompletely blended. You could see darker and lighter patches from the start, which is not a good sign. Some bites the chocolate and banana tastes blended together pretty well, but some bites you'd get a clear this-tastes-like-hot-fudge taste, which should never happen, and overall both the fudge and in particular the banana seemed in short supply. I found out why later: probably half of the banana they used was sitting in three huge chunks at the bottom of the cup. :shock: Very very definite no-no.

The final problem was the custard itself. For one thing, it's so creamy and smooth that even at a suitable temperature I doubt it could really make for proper concrete consistency. For another, it was the eggy custard that dominated the aftertaste, overpowering the mix-ins that are supposed to blend smoothly and characterize the flavor throughout. Yes, this may have been partially due to half the banana not getting mixed in, but I think the problem is more fundamental than that.

While the blending issue should be simple to fix, the temperature problem might require an infrastrucure upgrade. Or, worse, the custard might be kept at that temperature on purpose for the floats, shakes and cones. I'm sure they make the custard that smooth and eggy because they think it's more ideal for other items. So while I'll try contacting the appropriate people with my concerns, I'm not holding out much hope that my dream of a perfect concrete at every lunch break will come true. :sad: Indeed, the specimen I was served today wasn't even as good as the second-rate Ted Drewes imitators around St. Louis. (Although I have no doubt it will improve.)

But burgers that good year-round is definitely a reason to celebrate! :biggrin:

(And beer! :laugh:)

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I made a trip to the Shake Shack just after 4pm today. There was a line of about 15 ahead of me. It moved quite slowly, as almost everyone had at least one, if not many questions about the menu. The staff had trouble even with my order: "single scoop vanilla custard in a cup no toppings." Do you want a cup? Vanilla? Any toppings?

Then to the waiting for your order area. The glass windows let you see that there are probaably a dozen people in the kitchen/serving area running around like chickens and bumping into each other. Food came out in the sequence it was ordered, though one would think a cup of custard could be prepared more quickly than a complex burger order. They have some funny order system with multiple printout stations. I think they only print so many orders at a time. At least they weren't changing the paper.

So, I get my custard. I didn't think it was so wonderful. It was very smooth, but didn't have a strong vanilla flavor, despite the fact it was already melting around the edges when served. No visible signs of vanilla bean. Sort of like an ultra smooth DQ shake, but one quarter the size for twice the price. I wouldn't want to stand on line a long time to order again. They should consider a separate order window just for custard.

I hope the burgers are better. I'll let you know if I visit again. I would not teach at Washington Irving just for the Shake Shack.

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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The staff had trouble even with my order: "single scoop vanilla custard in a cup no toppings."  Do you want a cup?  Vanilla?  Any toppings?

These are not your usual Union Square Hospitality Group employees.

In addition to its culinary mission, the Shake Shack has a social one. It employs 7 students from Washington Irving High School -- one of the roughest schools in one of the roughest public school systems -- and it provides nuts-and-bolts management training for externs from the hotel and culinary schools.

You want to teach them science. Huh.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I had come there to try a hot fudge-banana concrete, and try it I would.  So I get to the window after fifteen minutes or so, and order:

......

I took a nice stroll around the park before I headed over to the pickup window to find a soupy milkshake-consistency contraption being poured into an open cup.  That it's sitting there without a lid on it means it's supposed to be a concrete.  I realize that after a pretty long while by this point of hanging around the pickup window and also watching people around the Shack, mine is the first concrete I've seen all day.  I wouldn't be terribly surprised if I was the first person to order a concrete period.

The person making it clearly knows whatever she came up with isn't right.  So does the manager type who comes over to throw it out and make a new one.  What she comes up with, though, isn't so much better.

For one thing, the consistency is all wrong.  Much much too soupy to deserve anything like the name concrete.  If you turned it upside down, it would not even plop; it would pour.

Much of the problem is due to temperature.  Ted Drewes gets this way after about ten minutes outside on a hot summer night.  The concrete I was served was barely cold; in fact, it was warmer than the bottle of water I'd bought.  At Ted Drewes they package every to-go order with dry ice.  This is why.

Next, it was very incompletely blended.  You could see darker and lighter patches from the start, which is not a good sign.  Some bites the chocolate and banana tastes blended together pretty well, but some bites you'd get a clear this-tastes-like-hot-fudge taste, which should never happen, and overall both the fudge and in particular the banana seemed in short supply.  I found out why later: probably half of the banana they used was sitting in three huge chunks at the bottom of the cup. :shock: Very very definite no-no.

The final problem was the custard itself.  For one thing, it's so creamy and smooth that even at a suitable temperature I doubt it could really make for proper concrete consistency.  For another, it was the eggy custard that dominated the aftertaste, overpowering the mix-ins that are supposed to blend smoothly and characterize the flavor throughout.  Yes, this may have been partially due to half the banana not getting mixed in, but I think the problem is more fundamental than that.

While the blending issue should be simple to fix, the temperature problem might require an infrastrucure upgrade.  Or, worse, the custard might be kept at that temperature on purpose for the floats, shakes and cones.  I'm sure they make the custard that smooth and eggy because they think it's more ideal for other items.  So while I'll try contacting the appropriate people with my concerns, I'm not holding out much hope that my dream of a perfect concrete at every lunch break will come true.  :sad:  Indeed, the specimen I was served today wasn't even as good as the second-rate Ted Drewes imitators around St. Louis.  (Although I have no doubt it will improve.)

The liquidity of your concrete may have been as much due to the heat generated by trying to blend a banana into the concrete. Overblended and poorly blended. Maybe the banana wasn't ripe enough. Maybe the banana was also warm, at room temperature bringing up the temperature of the mix. You'd think hot fudge would do the same. Everything has to be really cold if you're shooting for a finished consistancy of a Concrete.

I just checked Ted Drewe's menu

Drewes-Menu.jpg

and they offer both bananas and hot fudge. I'm guessing Ted Drewe's keep their shake containers iced, semi freeze the milk, and all the ingredients are chilled too

The Shake Shack's going to have to learn the hard way, in full view of crowds of New Yorkers. That's the problem with being a Danny Meyer's operation. No possibility of opening quietly and figuring it out as you go.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Was there tonight at 7:45pm. No line. Ordered two vanilla custard double dip cups, paid, walked around to the pickup window, got the goods, and ate in the park. Thought it was delicious, but as I said I've got little basis for comparison.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My husband and I tried out the Shake Shack this afternoon for lunch. There was a short line, only a couple minute wait. We got two cheeseburgers ($3.50) and cheese fries (~$2.50). The burgers were great, very juicy. The seasoning reminded us of a Wendy's burger. I hope that doesn't scare you away, because it's flavored like the best Wendy's burger you can imagine. The fries were crispy with a nice dose of liquid cheese. They were a bit heavy handed with the salt, but that may have just been our batch.

We got back in line to get dessert (again almost no wait), we tried out a single scoop vanilla. Very rich, no melting problems as some had mentioned. I think the whole meal is a very good taste per dollar value. We'll be back.

Jennie

Jennie Auster aka "GIT"

Gastronome in Training

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Of the things I've tasted, the two big triumphs at the Shake Shack so far are the burgers and the plain vanilla custard.

I'm really not sure there could be any way to improve upon the Shack Burger. Within that genre, I have never had a better burger. I haven't been to every one of the legendary California burger places, but I've been to several. The Shack Burger is I think made to the same standards as the best I've had in California but the beef is of very high quality and the blend of sirloin and brisket is a home run. The buttered potato roll is superb. The garnishes are the highest quality you're going to see at a burger place.

The plain vanilla custard is likewise clearly based on excellent ingredients. There is no identifiable taste of stabilizers or anything like that, yet the texture is luscious and velvety and it just screams with flavor. I don't have the kind of experience with custard that I have with hamburgers, but standing alone the custard seems totally delicious to me.

As for everything else, well, it's going to take awhile to try it all. I've made 5 Shake Shack visits thus far -- almost every day this past week and twice on one day. I haven't had a chance to sample the crinkle-cut fries yet because the two times I wanted to they didn't have any. They certainly appear to be frozen, as they arrive in large brown paper sacks -- but I'll find out for sure. It's possible to make very good fries from frozen, but I hope they eventually graduate to fresh-cut if not twice-fried. The frankfurters are very nice but could be improved upon in a number of ways -- I'll get to that list once I've tasted a few more. And of course the mixed custard items need a lot of work and are in my opinion terribly overpriced.

But it's early still. I'm very optimistic about the Shake Shack. The Union Square Hospitality Group has never disappointed and I bet we will see a sharp curve of improvement through the summer and beyond. And for now, a couple of Shack Burgers with a half-bottle of wine and a vanilla custard eaten in Madison Square Park is one of the most enjoyable eating experiences in New York. Not bad for a place that officially opened two days ago.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The plain vanilla custard is likewise clearly based on excellent ingredients. There is no identifiable taste of stabilizers or anything like that, yet the texture is luscious and velvety and it just screams with flavor. I don't have the kind of experience with custard that I have with hamburgers, but standing alone the custard seems totally delicious to me.

I liked my 1st Shake Shack experience, growing pains non-withstanding. The custard is velvety in texture, but to me it whispered vanilla rather than screamed with flavor. I'd like to see little flecks of vanilla bean.

--mark

Everybody has Problems, but Chemists have Solutions.

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I just checked Ted Drewe's menu and they offer both bananas and hot fudge.

Right; I ordered hot fudge-banana specifically because that's my classic Ted Drewes order.

I'm guessing Ted Drewe's keep their shake containers iced, semi freeze the milk, and all the ingredients are chilled too.

A good point, which I hadn't considered. The little bits of banana left throughout are always totally thawed, but as you point out that's likely due to the heat produced by vigorous blending. And now that you mention it, I believe that on the few occassions I've recieved a less than completely blended concrete at Ted Drewes the larger banana chunks were still frozen in the center...

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I made my first trip to shake shack today. I had the shack burger and the fries.

The burger was very good. It was well seasoned and had good "beef" flavor.

The crinkle fries was excellent. Very hot, crispy and also seasoned. Finally someone realized unseasoned burgers and fries does not taste good.

I would definitely go back again. The taxi dog looked very interesting. I think I will try that the next time I go.

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Add me to the list of "Shake Shackers." Went around 1:30 for lunch, and while the line was around 25 people long, it actually moved quite quickly. However, while we were eating our lunch, we noitced that while the ordering line had disappeared, there were about 30 people waiting to "pick up." So, some snafu must have developed on the cooking line. Also, they need to hang a poster or something in order to keep things orderly at the pick up - like, don't start mobbing the ketchup and mustard vats until you're next up or something along those lines. There were like 10 people filling up those little plastic cups with condiments, and that really bogged down the pickup area. Maybe they need the little packets like they have of mayo?

On to the food - both of the burgers we tried were delicious - the Shackburger with lettuce, tomatoes, sauce was yummy, and the plain hamburger which also was quite good and an awesome bargain at $3.25 or so. The fries were simply some of the best I've had in the city - obviously a different style than Balthazaar's or Les Halles or Schiller's, all of which are really thin and wonderful, these crinkle cut beauties came out hot and crispy and fluffy inside and stayed crispy till we scarfed the last one! Diet coke was just like a fountain soda should be - ice cold, fizzy and not overly sweet. Why do most fountain sodas taste like shit? The vanilla frozen custard was just like my wife remembered from St. Louis - but I put the kibosh on her ordering a "concrete" - that'll have to wait till the next visit.

Now for weirdness comes the Chicago hot dog - I don't know about anyone else, but I actually had to ask my wife if the thing (the actual hot dog) was cooked or not. And all that other crap does not belong on a hot dog - sorry. Maybe it's my upbringing, or the fact that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool NYer, but gimme a Nathan's, Katz's, Gray's, Papaya King or even a 2nd Ave. deli kosher style dog with mustard and kraut any day of the week over one of these puppies. But, that's just me after all...

And, for all the food we ate, the bill came to $16.25 - and how great is that!?

So if Danny Meyer isn't one of the best and smartest restaurateurs as well as a marketing genius, please tell me who is.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 2 weeks later...

SarahD and I stopped by after a Green Market outing last Saturday. The custard wasn't ready yet, but we were told "10 minutes" and it was actually slightly less. In the meantime, I had a lemonade.

My big problem with most places that advertise homemade lemonade is that, without fail, the drink is way too cloyingly sweet. I like LEMON in my lemonade, and find the tartness to be part of its thirst-quenching deliciosity.

Shake Shack's lemonade is perfect - tart enough to be a bit puckery, refreshing, cold and flavorful. I'd go out of my way just for the lemonade.

And I'm happy to report that the chocolate custard is smooth, creamy, deliciously chocolatey and rich. it was the perfect lunch.

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Shake Shack's lemonade is perfect - tart enough to be a bit puckery, refreshing, cold and flavorful. I'd go out of my way just for the lemonade.

I like their drink that's half lemonade, half iced tea... it's called the Arnold Palmer I think (definitely named after a golfer).

"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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I like their drink that's half lemonade, half iced tea... it's called the Arnold Palmer I think (definitely named after a golfer).

Interesting...that's an old midwestern drink, first time I've seen it in NY.

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