I didn’t plan to write a post this week. Settling into my new neighborhood, getting my ass kicked by work and trying not to let the blessings of the season pass by too quickly while I’m stuck behind a computer screen have lent themselves more to pure fatigue than to fruitful exploration of New York’s edibles – as a result, I awoke this morning with the disappointment of coming up short.
Then again, I didn’t plan on a half-hour date with Shake Shack’s seasonal concrete, the Standing Order, in the midst of this afternoon. I definitely didn’t plan on poring over the Wikipedia entry for ice cream and live footage of The Specials on YouTube in post-custard euphoria. Every time I’ve made it to Shake Shack, the thought of a rich and creamy dessert on top of my usual burger-and-fries order ends up being tabled for a time when my stomach can actually handle it. As I passed Madison Square Park, the sight of the Shack’s B-line and the relaxed mugginess of a mild summer day convinced me that it was time for me to bring frozen custard back to the floor.
When Shake Shack comes up in food talk, it often makes way for an unnecessary conversation on who’s got the best burger in the city or how the Shack burger could never compare to In-n-Out’s double double. What isn’t said enough is that, thanks to Shake Shack’s superb menu and instinctive, aesthetically calming arrangement, Madison Square Park is simply one of the most pleasant places to eat in all of Manhattan.
The voluptuous pleasures of the Standing Order certainly help shape the moment; its soft combination of flavors and textures is perfect for anyone who wants to cool off without diving spoon first into the intensely chocolate-bound landscape of Shake Shack’s other concrete specials. Sitting on a bench at the side of the park and watching a middle-aged couple share an ice cream while I savored my own, frozen vanilla custard melting at just the right pace around slices of fresh strawberry and sweet ribbons of orange-and-poppyseed caramel, I couldn’t have been happier to forget about the plans I was failing to fulfill.