as a half-in-the-closet foodie, i know i'm supposed to have very strong opinions about Shake Shack, a burger joint of Danny Meyers (the magician who brought us Tabla and Union Square Cafe, among other things). people will throw out passionate discourse about the great shakeshack vs in'n'out debate, vehemently defend it as the elusive "best burger in nyc" and so on and so forth.
recently i went to a wine tasting/dinner class where basically i got to eat a lot of yummy food and get reeeeally drunk for half price and instead of pushing us to like things that are "medium bodied, low acidity and long finished," the most important concept they presented was: "do you like it?"
and that is how i feel about burgers, pizza, hand pulled noodles, soup dumplings, baller dinner joints, steak houses, etc. do i like it? i'm going there again. does it make your ranked list? i don't give a shit.
that said, i LOVE shake shack. the smell that hits you is mouth watering, and at least in the beginning when there was just the one in madison square park, i thought the wait was worth it. (in the last 4+ years i've been here, i've seen several branches open all over the city. the wait is still a little crazy, but not like 2-hours-to-wait-for-a-burger-you-will-inhale-in-2-minutes crazy.) their frozen concretes--essentially extra thick shakes--are a caloric meal in and of themselves. their fries are dirtily delicious. sometimes when you feel like not meat (which is never) they have a deep fried cheese stuffed mushroom burger. a little something for everyone.
becky, my friend and fellow lover of SS alerted me to the fact that today is one of their branch's 2nd birthdays, and in honor of that birthday, they were offering birthday cake ice cream: vanilla ice cream with yellow and chocolate cake bits and rainbow sprinkles all mixed in. it sounded awesome. and so i found myself trekking over and up to the theater district location, where there was a line extending outside the store (let's not think about the snaking line inside the resto).
the guy in the line ahead of me looked a little bewildered and i informed him that it was SS-theater district's birthday. he responded with, "really? i guess i better call danny meyer and say congrats." i thought he was lying/bragging, etc but glimpsed over his shoulder that he did, in fact, have danny meyer's phone number in his cell. talk about swag. apparently they used to work together.
down the line comes an employee handing out samples of the very birthday cake ice cream i was there for. i told her this with great excitement and she reminded me of the blessed "c-line," where you get cold things like soda, water, and ice cream. i skipped ahead of line and happily lined up behind one person (versus like 50) to order my ice cream.
when i stepped up to the cash register, this woman, who is already at her own cash register, glares at me angrily and shouts, "you know, the line starts back there." i glanced at her up and down and did a quick racial profile. "whoa," i know you're thinking, "kathleen, racist much?." allow me to explain.
my brother muck has an uncanny ability to racially profile people based on the cars they drive. he's particularly accurate when it comes to asians. "see that toyota camry? indian." and sure enough, one of our south asian brothers is indeed behind the wheel. "see that hyundai sonata? definitely korean." and there goes mrs. kim driving erratically down el camino. it's really amazing and provided unmatched entertainment that morning i drove him to get his car tuned up.
i am similarly developing a very specific racial profile sense about white people. my friend howard says that i should be a comedian and just make cracks about white people. i don't think this is necessarily true. i'm just really good at observing some of their ridiculous behavior and making an educated guess about what kind of white person they might be. certain clues will lead me to guess with 90% accuracy if the person comes New Jersey (although sometimes i sometimes confuse them with staten island), massachusetts, florida, norcal vs socal vs white trash central california, the midwest (in general, my knowledge of this part of america is notoriously poor and i count the midwest as one "region"). this particularly white lady was well dressed but slightly off in the suburban mom style that has suffered the disappointing blow of not making it in nyc and being forced to drive a minivan in a part of connecticut that wants desperately to be greenwich but absolutely isn't. it would also explain her lack of knowledge about the "c-line" and her righteous yet sorely misplaced indignation at my presumed cutting, and also her inability to apologize for her mistake even after i calmly corrected her.
i tried very hard to give her the evil eye afterwards, but usually people mistake that for some kind of GI discomfort, so it makes for a pretty ineffective face.
this was all forgotten however, once i got my ice cream. i skipped through the door, past the girl who originally directed me to the c-line when she stopped me and told me that my ice cream did not have rainbow sprinkles. she then dragged me back to the front of the line and insisted to the cashier that the ice cream lady get me some goddamn rainbow sprinkles. it's not a birthday celebration without them!
was it worth waiting (mistakenly) in line, suffering some foodie swag, getting yelled at by an unfortunate suburban connecticut mom with no grace to apologize, and leave smelling like burger? yes. that birthday cake ice cream was fucking delicious. and it had rainbow sprinkles. happy birthday, shake shack!