Danny Meyer Dabbles with Deli Favorites at Shake Shack (aka Check Out This Katz’s Pastrami Topped Hot Dog!)
I’ve always enjoyed Katz’s deli, and I’ve recently become a Shake Shack convert. So I was instantly sold when I heard about Shake Shack’s “Deli Dog” offering ($5.25), the progeny of a holy union of two iconic New York culinary staples – Katz’s world famous pastrami and a classic all beef New York hotdog. In keeping with the classic NY deli theme, Shake Shack is also offering an egg cream ($3.50). Both specials are available for this week only.
I’ll admit, I had my doubts – is this creation simply a Danny Meyer gimmick? Or would this juxtaposition of smoked brisket and hot dog bring honor to both Midtown and classic New York flavors? And why is this egg cream so darn expensive? I case the encased meat offerings after the jump.
Before we delve into the mysteries of Shake Shack’s deli dog, their “Shack-cago Dog” ($4.25) deserves mention. The Chicago style hotdog, an ode to crunchy, boldly flavored pickled vegetables, is my favorite fare out of Chicago’s many contributions to the world of gastronomy. Here, it’s admirably recreated with conspicuous attention to detail, right down to the poppy seed bun and distinctive notes of celery salt. Had I been sipping on an Old Style beer instead of an egg cream, I could have easily mistaken my locale for Lincoln Park, instead of Midtown Manhattan.
Speaking of egg creams, I should mention that I’m severely lactose intolerant, but these egg creams needed to be sampled and assessed. I managed a few tentative sips (the things I do for Midtown Lunch), and was pleased with the delicate chocolate flavor, fortified with the creaminess of Shake Shack custard- which they use in lieu of milk (hence the increased price). I am not an expert in egg creams, but this version is unmistakably delicious. Had I possessed the genetic propensity to properly dispose of milk sugars, I’d have finished this with gusto, and perhaps grabbed another cup to go.
Man cannot survive on hot dogs and egg creams alone, so I also decided to supplement with Shake Shack’s controversial fries ($2.75). Yes, they’re frozen and produced en masse, however these contentious fries arrive steaming hot, satisfyingly crispy, and pleasantly potato-y. Frozen or not, they’re nearly unparalleled in quality for the price paid.
And finally the main event… the Deli Dog special. Atop of the all natural beef hotdog sits a restrained but juicy portion of pastrami. Despite the meager smattering of deli meat, there was enough to get that distinctive, salty, smoky, tender, beefiness that makes Katz’s one of the best delis in New York. For curious lovers of Katz’s stuck in Midtown, the Deli Dog is worthy of investigation. However, the purist in me would prefer to stick with Shake Shack’s excellent burgers, post scripted with a dinnertime visit to the original Katz’s Deli in the LES. Some things are just better left alone.
Shake Shack, 691 8th Ave. (on 44th Street), 646-435-0135