The Experience: It’s a bummer when I start reviews out this way, but here we go again: sometimes reviewing the best and most interesting burgers in NYC means you get an interesting burger, instead of one of the best. That’s the case with my review of Steak ‘n Shake Signature, an interesting if not exactly a good burger in the heart of Manhattan.
Steak ‘n Shake Signature was the first outpost of Steak N’ Shake’s spin-off line of restaurants, more geared toward a fast-paced urban customer. Traditional Steak ‘n Shake restaurants, which you can find all over the midwest and southeast, and sprinkled lightly throughout the rest of the country. They tend to be open 24/7 and invoke a ’50s diner vibe, though the franchise has existed since the ’30s. I spent many a college night recovering from whatever stupid antics I’d gotten myself into by eating a Signature Steakburger at the Steak ‘n Shake in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The Signature line of stores strips most of the charm of Stean ‘n Shake away in favor of a convenient, quick, and shiny fast food motif. The Times Square outpost, a fantastic piece of real estate right next to the Ed Sullivan Theater, has no charm whatsover. So does the Steakburger, with all its nostalgic flavor, make up for what is lost by the Times Square-ifying of this chain?
Burger Ordered: The Original Steakburger
The Taste: No, the burger doesn’t taste good enough to make up for the lack of charm. It gets close to being acceptable, but never gets there. The main culprit keeping this burger down is the cheap American cheese that tastes like it’s been sitting in a drawer for weeks. It’s no different than the cheese you’d get at McDonald’s, and I’ve been avoiding McDonald’s burgers for years. Truth be told, the bun was the highlight of the meal. Not mediocre like the beef patty and not disappointing like the overdone, bland fries, the bun was soft and toasted and pleasant to eat. If I had it to do over again I’d as for a pickle sandwich on the bun.
The Verdict: Fast food and customer turnover has turned Steak ‘n Shake from a quaint greasy spoon to a corporate bad dream. I didn’t like it when P.J. Clarke tried this with Clarke’s Standard, and I don’t like Steak ‘n Shake’s attempt here. Luckily for them, their less-than product will always have customers as long as Steven Colbert attracts an audience for the Late Show.
Steak ‘n Shake Signature is located at 1695 Broadway in Manhattan, New York.