Madison Square Park; opens for the season in April
Since the debut of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack last summer, the Great GourmetBurger Movement of the past several years has seemed awfully silly-like a giantshoulder-padded suit with its sleeves rolled up, circa 1988. Big, frilly, andfancy-bunned, after all, is no way for a burger to go through life. The ShakeShack burger, on the other hand, is smallish, modestly appointed, andunassuming. A thing of simple beauty swaddled in a wax-paper jacket, it’s a bitof a throwback, more West Coast casual (think In-N-Out or Taylor’s Refresher)than East Coast showy. The beef-a mix of sirloin and brisket freshly groundacross the street at Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park-is loosely packed to allow allthose tasty fat molecules to move around freely and express themselves on thegriddle, and then served on a squishy, supermarket-style bun that quicklybecomes one with the juicy, crisp-edged meat. As for extras and condiments,there is everything the burger classicist needs: ketchup, mustard, lettuce,tomato, and American cheese. No Kobe. No foie gras. No knife and forknecessary-just an alfresco table, a bunch of napkins, and a frozen custardalongside. Pretty much burger heaven.