Friday, 28 June 2013

Shake Shack London

Danny Meyer has been at the very top of the restaurant game in New York for nearly 30 years. In fact Danny is at the very top of the restaurant and hospitality industry worldwide.

It started in 1985, aged just 27 with Union Square Cafe, winning countless awards, this has grown to become Union Square Hospitality Group, which runs some of New York's best loved restaurants, including Shack Shack. 

Inspired by his childhood in St. Louis, with visits to Steak 'n Shake and Ted Drewes frozen custard, in 2004 Shake Shack opened its first in Madison Square Park, New York. This has now grown to 28 locations dotted around the globe... July 5th, they are opening in London!

I emailed some questions to Edwin Bragg their Director of Marketing & Communications to which he very kindly replied. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Day 11 Gallup to Las Vegas

Burger Reviewed: Diablo Burger - In-N-Out

Despite driving 600+ miles, seeing a 50,000 year old meteor site, one of the modern wonders of the world and driving through the Vegas strip, I still managed a couple of burgers. 

We gave this a miss. 

Diablo Burger

Burger: The Blake
Price: $11.75

Gimmicky branding on the bun - The 'bun' is an English muffin - There is a low fat content in the patty. All of this screams wrong, but it's all so so right! It rips up the rule book on burgers and serves one of the tastiest burgers I've had.

The importance of knowing where your food comes from.

What a burger. The low fat content isn't a problem. Their local farms are breeding some high quality meat. It'd been cooked perfectly and still managed to be juicy. The roasted green chillies gives a heat, without being over powering as it's closely followed by the creamy chilli mayo to form a great partnership. Glorious helping of cheese melted over the chillies and patty. Even the bun, which isn't really a bun, was great with an outside you could tap, a soft inside and sturdy enough to absorb the mayo and juices.

Almost a carbon copy of Honest Burgers famous rosemary salted fries. Texture and seasoning spot on.

A tasty well crafted burger in another one of the towns we nearly drove through and what a mistake that would have ended up being. Not just for the burger but for Flagstaff, a picturesque town that we could have happily spent most of the honeymoon at. 

Overall Rating - 10/10
Diablo Burger on Urbanspoon

In the middle of nowhere in Arizona you have a 50,000 year old meteor site. A huge hole in the ground, but quite a few interesting stories on the tour detailing all the investigations and discoveries that have happened over the past hundred years with people expecting to find gold and ending up losing everything.

On to the Grand Canyon. One of the wonders of the world, but I'm going to sound really spoilt and uncultured here - It is what it is. Was one of those times where what you expect is what you get. 

It spans 277 miles, but you can only see what you can see and I wouldn't really recommend it unless you were going over it in a helicopter. Here are my pics of it though.

In-N-Out Burger

Burger: Double-Double, Animal Style
Price: $3.30
Location: Las Vegas

I'd like to think when rating burgers previously I'd managed to remain impartial and not let hype or circumstance influence - there's no denying when In-N-Out came to London late last year I was overly excited and when the beef is compared side-by-side against other 10/10's is doesn't compare. That said, this is a fast food joint so maybe rating it as highly as I did previously is right. 

Again, this burger doesn't have as high a quality seen in other of my top ranked burgers, but for price and speed, this is simply faultless. It's one of the most exciting burgers in the world.

With an untold number of "secret" off menu possibilities, and if you order an Animal style Double-Double, medium rare, you'll go away happy. 

10/10 may be generous when compared with some of the other heavyweights, but there's just no way any true burger fan can find fault with their burgers or business model. The fast food benchmark.

Overall Rating 10/10

We arrived late in Vegas. VEGAS BABY.

Accommodation: Hooters Casino Hotel - $14.50 A bit old fashioned but beat that price!


Distance covered today 635m

Monday, 10 June 2013

Day 10 Santa Fe to Gallup

Burger Reviewed: The Pantry - Laguna Burger

After coming into Santa Fe at dusk, it was great to be able to spend some time in the morning in this beautiful & unexpected treasure. We wandered in and out of the local shops and got to speak to people about America and our Route 66 trip. One of these was "The Shop", which is an all year round Christmas shop. The owner was a big football(soccer) fan and we chatted for close to an hour about The Arsenal, Barcelona, and his own month trip around Spain some years before. I thought our road trip was loose, him and his wife drove out of Madrid airport, no sat nav, no schedule, just "left or right". The stuff dreams are made off. 

The Pantry
Burger: Tortilla Burger
Price: $10.99
Twitter: @thepantrysf

The Pantry is another family run Santa Fe restaurant, and has been producing 'fresh-from-scratch' food, on the original Route 66 since 1948. The Pantry was another burger recommendation from Hamburger America's George Motz, and he came up trumps again.

It being a tortilla burger, it'll be the second day in a row I've had to eat a burger with a knife and folk! There is no other way, so my 'rep' shall remain untarnished. 

Under what looks like a mound of cheese there is a beef patty topped with green chili, and pinto beans all wrapped in a flour tortilla and then topped with melted cheese. 

The earthy flavour from chili and pinto beans flow all the way through the burger. There isn't too much initial heat from the chili but it does build throughout, to leave a nice tingle on your lips. The patty is quite firm indicating a low fat content or overworking, which usually results in a dry, tough poorly tasting burger - but it was cooked and seasoned to perfection and still managed to be very juicy. With there being no bun the beef flavour really stands out, and with the toppings, gives you a very good burger. 

This is the last burger I have on the trip that doesn't have a traditional bun. Whilst I've enjoyed them both, this one especially, I don't see myself trying to recreate this at home. The bun is here to stay.

Overall Rating 7/10
Pantry Restaurant on Urbanspoon

It was a joy to drive across New Mexico. So many passing drivers gave a nod or a small wave, there was this one driver however....This car was going about 20mph in a 70 limit, but with cars passing on the other side, it wasn't possible to pass, so I flashed, he was now going about 10mph. After about a minute I managed to speed past. When turning to see who was driving, we saw a hand come out of the window, with a gun being spun on his finger. A gun! Pedal to the floor, we didn't see him again. 

Burger: Laguna burger
Price: $3.99

Our journey down Route 66 hit a road block. Due to a religious event we were unable to drive through through a Pueblo, and our new road took us past this 66 pit stop which housed Laguna Burger, and they made burgers fresh to order. Never could I imagine a petrol station back home serving anything other than a microwaved Rustler burger, but this is America. 

You don't order at the burger counter. You order and pay, with the gas attendant. Your receipt is then attached to a clip and zip-lined above your head across the shop to the kitchen & to my amazement, the medium rare request had been accepted. Could they deliver it?

Well not really, but it was still decent. The patty was seasoned well, but had been overcooked, medium well I'd say. It still had a very good flavour and was soft and loose. It's not anything to go OTT about, but much better then the big 2 fast food chains. The bun was a tad tough/dry and towards the end of the burger it did break. The American cheese covered most of the patty and had the classic sticky melt. I missed the chili - It probably wasn't very strong, but hard to tell with a wet tomato and too much lettuce. 

The fries were disgusting. There was no seasoning at all and tasted like they could have been fried in water. 

So the burger wasn't one of the best I've had, but it was from inside a patrol station and I think it'll be a long long time before England has anything like this level of burger, in a similar establishment. There isn't much around here, so def worth a cheeky burger if passing - give the fries a miss mind.

Overall Rating 5/10
66 Pit Stop on Urbanspoon

The Doritos Locos Tacos -  sold over 200 million in just 6 months last year. It has transformed Taco Bells fortunes. I don't really see why....It's just a flavoured taco. An oddly shaped Doritos crisp.. You'd have to really love the Nacho Cheese flavour I'd feel to take much enjoyment out of it. Theres not much else in terms of flavour, and the tiniest amount of grainy beef at the bottom wasn't noticeable. The positives are its cheap - but I'd rather get a bag of Doritos and a dip.

Accommodation: Red Roof Gallup - $66


Distance covered today 170m