Shake Shack’s Cambridge Circus branch is right opposite McDonalds. Lesser burger chains would be intimidated; Shake Shack isn’t bothered. It’s better than MacDs and it knows it.
The highlight of my trip was the Shackburger: a cheeseburger with a lovely, thin, high quality patty topped with tart shack sauce. It’s their signature burger and it delivers. Every time. A classic hamburger, one or two of those patties layered with lettuce and tomato and slipped into a white potato bun, was less impressive. The tomato too wet; the lettuce too dry. But it was improved greatly with ketchup and mayo (it’s self-service so you can go wild on the sauces). Better was the ‘Shack-cago dog’, a frankfurter-esque sausage layered with punchy sour pickles. Another must-order, always, are crinkle- cut fries with a pot of wonderfully plasticky melted cheese, for dipping (or smothering).
Downsides? The layout of this branch is a little awkward. The first thing you see when you walk in is a big sign saying ‘look right’; without it, I would have felt a bit disorientated on my way to the counter. And this is fast food, no doubt. Your order is ready in about five to seven minutes (you get a little buzzer) and you collect it on a tray. But it’s fast food with character and substance. In the interest of a starting of turf war: Ronald McD, take note.