Taking the 6 train to Sheboygan.

“What could be a more perfect meal for our lethargy?” my girlfriend and I wondered last Saturday, as we rode the 6 downtown.  We had originally planned a brunch excursion to the East Village (I’ll get to the Sunburnt Cow’s offering eventually), but laziness and the inherent appeal of the Shack’s delicious burgers and frozen treats tempted us astray.

Of course, we had to make a detour before detouring – the 7-11 on 23rd St. near Park Av. South was our first stop, and a total time-warp of weirdness it was, indeed.  I can understand the initial excitement voiced by some about 7-11’s arrival in Manhattan – I spent a goodly portion of my childhood stopping at the Sev or its mini-mart equivalents (Phillips 66, especially, since my best friend had a gas card from there that charged his father) on the way home from school, to pick up junk food and a tankard of the teenage jesus juice, Mountain Dew.

Manhattan’s 7-11 is, of course, different from Salt Lake City’s: a hell of a lot more coffee was my first tip, and a hell of a lot less white redneck counter help was my second.  But the gigantor soda machines and soda cups are still there, even improved from what I remember from my childhood.  When did they invent a device to enhance/pollute your diet Coke with one of several additional flavors?   More importantly, since when has IBC root beer been available in fountain form?

So we got our buckets of diet Coke and root beer (44 ounces for under a buck fifty – thanks, 7-11!) and proceeded over to Madison Square Park.  Let me tell you, we were glad we got our drinks first – the line was out of the gravel dining area and twisted around the 23rd St. side of the park, nearly halfway to Broadway.  We were surprised but determined – we joined the line at 2:30 and decided to make an afternoon of it.

Now, obviously, you could pick more pleasant spots in Madison Square Park to laze around, and certainly more comfortable positions than standing up, but, overall, the atmosphere isn’t bad.  You’ve got really gorgeous buildings around, the wind might rustle the trees occasionally, and, if you’re lucky, Danny Meyer’s hospitality squad will bring you free fried goodies or frozen custard to knaw at (we, strangely, got bookended by handouts, but didn’t manage to snag anything).

At 3:20, we ordered our meal – yes, it took nearly an hour.  Were we too hopped up on caffeine and sugar from our 7-11 tankards to really care?  Not really; it took forever, but, hey, that was evident going in – the line doesn’t lie.  If you go with a friend or group, the wait can be at least pleasant, and at most (judging by the boisterous groups of twentysomethings around) a lot of fun.  I think going alone, like the girl in front of us did, is the true mark of insanity – I’ve only been by myself when there is no line, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

At about 4:00, our name was finally called, and we happily sat down to nosh.  I opted for the double Shack burger ($6.23) and one of the special pumpkin pie custards, my girlfriend for the single burger ($3.23) and cheese fries (of which, of course, I ate half).  For those who haven’t been, the shack’s burgers are made from a combination of brisket and sirloin and are exceptionally flavorful, and the fries ($2.54 with cheese, $2.08 without) are of the Ore-ida style wave cut variety which, smothered in a cheese sauce that is neither polyester nor lumpy, are a class example of the old dining hall staple.

This trip’s surprise, though, was the special pumpkin pie concrete.  Watching the custard-creation portion of the kitchen (ain’t it fun to see the hyper-efficient kitchen crank out the food?), I saw that the main ingredient truly was a hunk of pumpkin pie, from an orange box that looks like it could have been bought at Stop & Shop #25, E. Harwich, MA.  Ergo, the pumpkin pie concrete had both filling and crust in irregular chunks throughout the vanilla custard, and the whole shebang was to die for – one of the best dairy desserts I’ve had in a long time.

It’s been said that the Shake Shack is Danny Meyer’s homage to the middle American fast food stand, and it does carry that mantle exceptionally well (except for the whole “hot-rod cars and greasers” thing – Happy Days was real, right?).  Matched with a trip to 7-11 to sate our thirst for the long line, I can truly proclaim this past Saturday afternoon to have been just like a day in the ‘burbs west of the Mississippi – if only you could take the 6 train there and back.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Taking the 6 train to Sheboygan.

  1. Pumpkin pie concrete?! I’m going to cry. (sobbie)I have yet to try any of their special concrete flavors. The only thing I’ve ever had from the Shake Shack was a concrete…the…chocolate one. With the chunks and the brownies. It was good but melted in what felt like 5 minutes, which disappointed me because I didn’t think something called a “concrete” should do that.Then again, maybe it was 100 degrees that night and I didn’t notice.…but pumpkin pie concrete sounds so gooood.

  2. Believe me, Robyn, the pumpkin pie concrete is worth crying over. Like you, I’m convinced that their stuff melts a little quickly, and I’m going to do some ‘research’ when home over christmas about it…

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