Passing on the friendly reminder from Mr. George that May is National Hamburger Month. Not like I need a reason to go out and have some burgers, but any to celebrate one of my favorite meals is a good one.
Tonight wanted to share my first at Steak 'n Shake. SNS is a burger restaurant chain popular in the Midwest and Southern States. As with our In-N-Out, they tend to have an almost cult following within burger enthusiasts where when the first opened in NY this year it was sort of a deal. Burger expert Nick Solares from Serious Eats calls their every man appeal Single with Cheese "The quintessential American cheeseburger." With credentials like that, you can say I had been looking forward in trying and my recent revisit to TN gave me the perfect opportunity one dinner night.
Steak 'n Shake takes the smash method to artful extremes where a small hockey puck shaped ground beef cylinder is taken from a chill box with fork then smooshed down wafer thin with an extra large metal spatula. Outer surface and especially edges fried to a crisp yet still retaining a good amount of moisture in, it's a great example of this burger cooking technique done right.
You can get it with the standard works (pickle, lettuce, tomato, onion) to fancier ranging from with Grilled Portobello, a heartier Chili Cheese, to even a Wisconsin style Butter. I ordered my Original Double with Cheese with only onion ($3.99 with fries!).
Buns are perfect both in aesthetics and functionality. A photogenic golden brown orb that is squishy forgiving but not crumbly with a light resilient spongy texture. I take a bite and the textural contrast between crispy patty, oozy cheese and soft bun is great. The raw onion also proved to be a good decision. Couldn't confirm anywhere online but to me the meat seemed flavored or at least seasoned with something other than S&P. Only subtly so (unlike say, what I experience with White Castles) while still retaining the natural flavor of the beef.
I guess I had to also try a shake. While the genius Butterfinger version sounded pretty amazing, went for a standard chocolate and it did not disappoint. Chocolaty rich and creamy with also whipped cream and even a cherry to top. All in chilled fluted glass, SNS keeps it classy.
The fries were hot, crispy and great. Personally not a big shoestring fries fan where these were probably borderline in thickness (or thinness?). So I would completely agree with Nick. While they are good, I'd probably rather save the room for another one of those tasty steakburgers. :)