Wednesday, December 8, 2010

McGills Efficiency

French onion soup is just about the only soup that I enjoy. Soup is basically watered down real food so I've never gotten the attraction. But, I'm always looking for some good French onion soup. My old college roommate, Killian, told me about a place over by his house in Brookside called McGills and said they had wonderful French onion soup.

My earliest convenience got me there yesterday afternoon. McGill's is a pretty small place, maybe 12 tables, but at least 3 waiters walking around. I must say the service was spectactular and Marty, my waiter, was very speedy and friendly. He walked right up after I was seated and mentioned the specials. I didn't pay attention because I was just going to get some French onion soup. I told him that and Marty gave me a wink and a smile and said "you must have heard how great it is". I said I did.

The soup is made to order, meaning that the cheese is melted on top when the order is placed. I waited a short time and Marty brought me my soup. Somehow, as I wasn't paying attention, I knocked the spoon off the plate onto the floor, but luckily Marty was right there and handed me a spoon from his shirt pocket. As I looked around I noticed the other 2 waiters had spoons in their pockets. I'd never seen this before so I asked Marty why they all have spoons in their shirt pockets. Marty told me the owner, Bruce, makes them carry the spoons around because people are always dropping the spoons off the saucers and it's just quicker to have a spoon with you to replace the fallen one. I thought that made good sense.

The French onion soup was as good as advertised. The cheese was browned nicely and the croutons were plentiful with just the right amount of moistness. When Marty came back to fill up my water glass I noticed a little bit of string on his pants. I debated whether to point this out to him and decided to say something. Marty said that's another one of Bruce's efficiency ideas. The string is used to pull down his zipper and allows him to use the restroom without touching anything that would force him to have to wash his hands which takes time. Bruce doesn't like doing unnecessary things and soap costs money. I was dumbfounded, but impressed with the idea, but one thing I couldn't figure out, how do you get it back in, I asked.

With a spoon.

Joke via The Mike O'Meara Show's  Robb Spewak, my favorite podcast.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange

Top shelf of bar
I got the opportunity today to meet Ryan Maybee of Manifesto and now the Rieger in the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, formerly 1924 Main. They've done an immense amount of work brightening the place up. Gone are the red walls and wood painted black. Now the space is painted a nice shade of green  which is coincidentally (or maybe not) very similar to the green walls in the dining room at la manse du Vard. Gone are the glass separators that divvied up the room leading to a much more open restaurant. The bar has been completely redone and, right now, while liquorless, has a nice little framed drawing of the bar drawn by Ryan. The stunning 90 year old original floor with original Rieger logo remains untouched.

The famous original floor
The walls are adorned with art from local artist Kale Von Leeuwen, a French artist, and a very large painting by Alexandra Nechita that was painted when she was 10. The kitchen, which was previously very open is closed off a little bit so you can't see all the way back. A bar has been added to make a little chef's table for use by either single diners or those wishing to let chef Howard Hanna serve them what they want. Some new lighting has been added brightening the place up from the 1924 Main days.

Ceiling in private room
16 foot long cypress table
We went back into the other dining room which will be used for private parties at the Rieger. My prediction is that this will be a sought after room to have small parties. The room seats 40 with one wall adorned with a mural celebrating the Rieger's name and history. Apparently, and this comes from Ryan Maybee's mouth, the Rieger name adorned a large whiskey company, J. Rieger & Co. that was killed by Prohibition. The logo from J. Rieger & Co. makes up a large portion of the wall. Plus, the highlight of the room for me were the 2 16 foot long wooden tables made from 150 year old cypress. On the occasions where the private room is used for regular dinner seating, the tables will be utilized by banquet style seating.

Skylight in main dining room
The menu is going to focus on fresh, seasonal items. The one menu item Ryan was excited about is rabbit pot pie. I don't know if I've ever mentioned my anti-pot pie stance (too much like a casserole), but the inclusion of rabbit, an underutilized meat, has me curious. I love rabbit and I can't wait to eat some. They're looking to open the Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange and Manifesto near Thanksgiving. No date has been set, when they're ready to open, they'll open.

Photos were taken by friend of Hot Blog and KC Beer Blog, Ryan McElwain and are a welcome sight compared to the photos I'm capable of taking. For more of Ryan's photos of the Rieger Hotel visit (and become a fan of) the Hot Blog on a Stick Facebook page.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Webster House

We did what any self respecting middle aged (well I'm middle aged, Stella's quite young) Johnson County couple would do. We saw a restaurant on public television and went to eat there the next night. In this case we went to Webster House (1644 Wyandotte, KC, MO) the night after it was featured on one of our favorite shows "Check, Please".

We used their handy dandy online reservation system found on their website around 5 PM to secure a reservation at 6:30. I'm not entirely sure that was necessary because the Webster House is quite large and was probably just a little more than half full, but Stella doesn't like to take any chances. We had a little bit of trouble figuring out where the dining room was because the first floor of the converted school house was an antique store the likes of which you might find in a higher end hotel, it kind of reminded me a couple of shops in the Fairmount in San Francisco. We finally found a flight of stairs that led us to the dining room. We were seated in a dining room adjoining the kitchen, which I wouldn't really recommend unless you really like hearing the expediter say things like "fire the scallops for 54" or "truffle fries up for 29". But sitting there did have one perq which I'll get to later.

Pretzel Rolls with 3 types of butter
Truffle fries and Long Strange Tripel
We sat down and perused the wine list while waiting for our lovely waitress, Tina, to get to us. She was having a little trouble keeping up with the 4 top next to us with a couple of UMKC professors (one of which looked just like Jeff from "Flipping Out") and their wives. I'm just speculating but they were drinking iced tea like they were high on E. Tina, quite frankly, was getting a little tired of filling up their tea glasses. I was a little disappointed in the selection for wines by the glass. Stella and I have pretty different tastes in wine, I like dry reds and she likes sauvignon blancs mostly, so we typically each get a wine by the glass. But, Webster House only has about 12 wines by the glass to choose from (ranging in price from $9 - $14). Stella was able to find a chardonnay ('06 Markham Chardonnay from Napa) that Tina thought was a great choice (and turned out to be, in fact, a great choice). I decided to skip wine once I noticed the availability of the 4 Boulevard Smokestack beers priced at $10 each which is a great bargain in a restaurant assuming you get a whole bottle. You do get a whole bottle and I really enjoyed my 750 mL of Long Strange Tripel.

We started with an appetizer of truffle fries to go along with the complimentary pretzel bread with 3 butters; a sea salt butter, shallot and artichoke butter and molasses butter. The sea salt butter went wonderfully with the pretzel bread, the sea salt making the bread seem just like eating a pretzel at a Wizards game. The shallot and artichoke butter was much better than I expected with a nice taste of shallot with just a touch of artichoke (which I don't really care for). And the molasses butter reminded me of eating an Auntie Anne's cinnamon sugar pretzel with caramel dipping sauce, but much less sweet. Honestly, I could have eaten a couple more pretzel rolls with butter for dinner and walked out of Webster House a pretty happy dude. The truffle fries came to our table mere seconds after they were announced done by the chef in the kitchen and nearly scalded Stella's tongue when she popped one in her mouth immediately. The fries were marvelously fried, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Truffle oil was barely present, if at all. And they were sprinkled with parmesan cheese, of which I'm not a huge fan. The fries were better than 90% of the fries you're going to eat, so I'm not saying they're bad, but I think I'll go with another appetizer next time we go.

Short ribs
The meal was nicely paced and Stella and I had plenty of time to talk and look around. I took some time trying to figure out what the room we were in was when it was a schoolhouse. It very clearly was too small to have been a classroom, which 2 of the other dining rooms clearly were. Our room was more like a hallway with 2 original archways. It could have been a small study room. I just couldn't figure it out. The kitchen was about the same size as the room we were in and had a little counter with 4 seats facing it that I thought were for individual diners, which is a nice touch for traveling businessmen, especially since Webster House is just a couple blocks from Bartle Hall. But, I found out I was mistaken, the little counter was a chef's table. You can sit at the chef's table and have him prepare you a 4 or 5 course meal for $30 tailored to your tastes. All the while, you get to talk to the chef since he's right in front of you. All you have to do is call and reserve your time. I dare say a better $30 can't be spent for dinner and entertainment. The couple of plates I saw the chef serving the couple partaking were quite large and sounded wonderful. They were mostly a reimagining of already existing menu items using components from many dishes on the menu. Stella and I will be doing this very soon.

Defeated by the short ribs, I had to let this hunk go
For my entree, I chose the beef short rib. Short ribs are a new love of mine, they combine 2 things I love, steak and ribs. The short rib is a substantial hunk of meat like a steak only it's really tender like a delightfully smoked rib. Plus, they're slow braised which fills them full of flavor. The Webster House short rib is braised in a red chili braise that infuses the meat with just a little bit of spice. The rib is served on top of a warm jalapeno polenta cake that kind of looked like a little corn bread ciabatta. From my first bite, I was in love. I was able to cut my short rib with my fork, pull out a little bit of polenta and dip it into the cold tomatillo sauce drizzled on the plate. The combination of flavor was delightful, just a hint of spicy heat, corn sweet and wonderful, wonderful tender beef with a nice roasted meat crust. I don't think you can get a steak with 20% of the flavors of those short ribs. I was really glad I didn't eat a second pretzel roll because I wanted to fill my belly with a much of the meat as I could. I had quite a challenge in front of me; 2 large chunks of meat, a pretty big chunk of polenta and at least 500 mL of Long Strange Tripel. My next 30 minutes was set. The only fault on the plate was the absence of a larger amount of the braising liquid.

Diver Scallops
Stella got the seared diver scallops for her entree. This was a much more manageable amount of food to eat with 4 scallops with a little beet and endive salad accompanied by a butternut squash risotto and a toasted parmesan cream. I'll be honest, I didn't think it looked that great. The risotto was a light green color and the scallops just looked overcooked and chewy. Looks can be deceiving. The scallops were perfectly cooked and seasoned. The risotto was perfect in flavor. Stella didn't leave a bit of food on her plate. I was not successful in finishing mine. I finally had to throw in the napkin with 4 or 5 good bites to go. It was a shame to let it go.

Best caramel corn ever
We were too late to get over to Elbow to get some chocolates for First Friday so we decided to have dessert there. Stella was stuck between 3 choices, German chocolate cake (I told her I wouldn't eat any of it, I don't like German chocolate cake because I don't like coconut..or Germans), Almond cake or caramel corn which is modestly named "The Best Caramel Corn Ever" on the menu. After consulting with Tina, our waitress, Stella decided on the caramel corn. I'm glad she did because it was the best caramel corn I've ever had. Admittedly, this is a weird thing for a restaurant to be really great at, but, at least you don't have to go to the Sedgwick county fair in Kansas or some such place to get the best caramel corn ever. You can just go to downtown KC. Each piece of popcorn was perfectly popped and coated with caramel. Then there were some peanuts, cashews and 2 pecans included. The pecans were so good we were very aware of how many there were. If there were 4 pecans in our serving of caramel corn, this whole post would have been about the caramel corn. The pecans were that good.

Webster House isn't a hip place, I don't think there was anyone under 30 in the place. It's not the most cutting edge restaurant in town. It's not the coolest place in town to be. But, it's a great place to spend an hour and a half or two hours eating a wonderful meal and drinking wonderful wine and beer. The small imperfections in our meal such as not enough truffle in the fries, not enough gravy on the short ribs, not being able to find the dining room are just that, very small imperfections. We enjoyed impeccable service, wonderful food and most of all a good time. Webster House is a treat that is quite unique in Kansas City and should experienced by everyone in town at least once and is a great destination for the downtown traveler to KC.

Monday, October 25, 2010

RJ's Pig Feast

RJ's Bob-Be-Que is having a little party tonight to celebrate the rebroadcast of the "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" episode featuring them. As part of the celebration they are smoking a whole pig which is fulfilling award winning blogger Meesha's yearlong dream of eating a smoked pig. A buffet with the pig, cole slaw, beans, sweet potato casserole, fresh applesauce and corn bread muffins will be available for $15/person.

Word is they're pretty packed up, but there's still space available so you'd better call 913-262-7300 to RSVP and reserve your spot. You don't want to miss out on whole pig and if you play your cards right you may even see several D list KC bloggers hanging out eating pig. If you're not coming out, you can watch the episode, which will make you really want to eat barbecue, will air at 9:30 on Food Network. If you are coming out, festivities at RJ's begin at 8.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Panera is Bad For You

McDonald's is always the convenient whipping boy for health activists saying that McDonald's food is bad for you. But, that's a little too easy, it's like picking on the gay kid in high school (too soon?). Everyone knows that McDonald's is bad for you, but they're always the example of how fast food is bad for you. I don't understand why, after they go after McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's, they leave a place like Panera alone.

I'm not going to lie, I hate Panera for reasons unrelated to it's healthiness. I spent about 6 months working on a project a couple of years ago in which we had 2 or 3 lunch meetings a week. At those meetings we almost always had Panera, and aside from the French onion soup and lemonade, I never liked any of their food. Many times a sandwich would sound good but actually taste horrible. But, I always kinda thought Panera's food was better for me than typical fast food.

It's not. Panera's just as bad, if not worse, than McDonald's. For instance, half a smoked ham and swiss sandwich has more sodium than a McDonald's double cheeseburger (1220mg to 1150mg) and only 80 calories less and 7g fat less than the double cheeseburger. That's half a sandwich, hardly a meal. So if you're doing the Pick Two menu at Panera, you're going to get a salad to be a little healthier than the fries you're going to get at McDonald's, I chose the half fuji apple chicken salad. Well, you're obviously going to do better on the sodium front at Panera. Except, you're not. You're going to get 410mg of salt in that salad as opposed to 270mg in a medium fries. Again, the salad does better on the calorie front with 260g to 360g, but the fat is almost even 15g to 17g. So for a total meal you get 610 calories, 30g of fat and 1630mg of sodium at Panera. At McDonald's you get 810 calories, 39g of fat and 1570mg of sodium (I added 2 ketchup packets at McDonald's).  If you have high blood pressure or any other heart related problem, you just screwed yourself by going to Panera. If you're relatively heart healthy, you saved 200 calories and 9 g of fat by eating at Panera, unless you ate that pesky little baguette they throw on your tray. Then you give up 180 calories and add another 440mg of sodium. Your carb total is even between the 2 meals.

For my money, there's not a dime's worth of difference in the nutritive value of the 2 meals, but the Panera one is much more dishonest. In my mind a half sandwich half salad lunch should be way better for me than a double cheeseburger and fries. If I'm not informed of my caloric or sodium intake, I might be more willing to splurge a little for dinner and have some chocolate cake for dessert or eat a heavier meal and still think I didn't go over what I should be eating in a day.

Now, let's say I'm trying to eat healthier and actively seeking a good for me meal at Panera and McDonald's without looking at the nutrition guides on their websites. So, looking at their menus (I did not cherry pick here, I chose these meals by what sounded healthiest and what I would like to eat, except at Panera I chose turkey, which I hate and will not eat, but turkey is the best for you meat either restaurant carries.) I chose 2 grilled chicken wraps and a side garden fresh salad. At Panera, I chose the half smoked turkey sandwich and the half orchard harvest chicken salad. My McDonald's meal totals 570 calories, 21g of fat, 1240mg of sodium and 64g of carbohydrates. My Panera meal totals 740 calories, 25g of fat, 1930mg of sodium and 84g of carbohydrates. If you somehow don't eat the baguette that shows up on your tray at Panera you still get 560 calories, 24g of fat, 1490mg of sodium and 52g of carbohydrates. Panera loses in all categories except carbohydrates if you don't eat the bread, but be honest with yourself, you're going to eat that baguette.

In both cases, trying to eat healthy or ordering what I want, I would rather eat the McDonald's meal (and I don't like McDonald's either). Neither place is particularly good for you, but, at least at McDonald's you're not fooling yourself into thinking you're eating something healthy. Panera somehow escapes people's scorn when it comes to serving bad for you food. I don't think they should, they're even more guilty of making bad for you food, because they serve it under the guise (whether intentional or not) that the food is fresh and good for you. I can't speak to whether it's fresh or not, but it's definitely not good for you.

I encourage you to play my little game with both restaurants' handy nutrition calculators; Panera and McDonald's. Or go one step further and compare Panera to your favorite boogeyman of negative nutrition and see how they stack up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

La Bodega

A while back LaCrone wrote a post on the Clean Plate Club blog about places in town he was ashamed he'd never eaten at. I commented on that post listing 3 places, Plaza III, The Majestic and The Savoy. But I left off La Bodega (703 Southwest Blvd., KCMO), that's just how much it was buried in my mind as a place to eat. Well that changed recently as Stella and I finally thought of it when we were trying to decide where to eat dinner.

chorizo y pollo
We got there during their happy hour which includes about 15 of their small plate entrees at half price and half price beer and sangria as well as 10 wines served for $5 a glass. Wes Port wrote a nice little post about the happy hour a couple of years ago on the KC Beer Blog. As we sat down we only knew they had a good happy hour, we hadn't looked at a menu before and didn't know quite what to expect. It was a little overwhelming at first since neither of us knows our Spanish food very well. We decided that we would each get 2 plates on our own and then share 1 and see where we stood when we were done with that. I ordered the calamares a la plancha (sauteed squid in olive oil, garlic and lemon sauce) and patatas bravo (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce). I was very close to ordering the pimientos rellenos de piquillo (red peppers stuffed with rice and ahi tuna) but when I looked in the regular menu I saw that it was served cold. Cold rice dishes don't appeal to me unless it's sushi plus it was a little bit cold the evening we went and I wanted something a little more hot and spicy. Stella got the pincho de pollo y chorizo (skewer of chicken and chorizo) and datiles con jamon y chorizo (dates wrapped in pancetta and stuffed with chorizo). If there's a dish with stuffed dates on the menu, Stella's going to order it. We decided to share an order of pintxos de higo (roasted red peppers, goat cheese and a fig coulis on grilled bread). Again, if you have a fig dish on your menu, Stella's going to order it. We also each got a red sangria.

Our food came out in under 5 minutes. The calamares looked wonderful, a nice departure from the battered and fried version you normally see. A nice pile of rice accompanied the squid. I was unprepared for the size of the patatas bravo, this was no small plate, it was a full plate of potato quarters covered in a rich looking chunky tomato sauce. Stella's pollo y chorizo skewers were a bit puny, the jamon y chorizo was 5 dates that looked quite fabulous and the pintxos de higo contained 3 slices of bread with a healthy smattering of goat cheese and fig coulis.

Patatas bravas, you must eat this
Let's start off with the weakest of the bunch, the calamares. There's a reason squid is usually fried, it's because it's hard to get much flavor into the meat.
The whole thing was a bit bland, not bad tasting or anything, just the weakest of the items we got. Despite the small size of the pollo y chorizo, Stella enjoyed it thoroughly. But what she really loved were the dates. I had to sheepishly ask if I could try half of one and she kindly let me. They were like candy which is the only thing bad I can say about them, because they were much more of a dessert type item than a dinner entree. I could barely taste the chorizo in them and Stella said the same. The pintxos de higo were wonderful, the goat cheese and fig is a classic combination for a reason. On to the star, the patatas bravo. I loved every bit of it. If you go to La Bodega and don't get the patatas bravas. I have to say you failed. This should be a side dish at every restaurant in town, there should be a food truck slinging bravas parked in Westport, I should see a bravas stand at every festival around town. Bravas does for the potato wedge what poutine does for the french fry. I don't think I could have spent a better $3 anywhere in town. The tomato sauce on the potatoes was a perfect bit of spicy with the tomato's natural sweetness. The potatoes had a nice bit of crisp on the skin and were light and fluffy inside. It was just a pretty wonderful little combination.

pintxos de higo
Since Stella didn't get the patatas bravas she was still hungry after her dishes and had to get an order of albóndigas caseras (meatballs in a garlic cream sauce). We also each got a white sangria. I snacked on the leftover bread from the breadbasket and worked on finishing the potatoes. The bread was some kind of wonderful as well since they had olive oil and basalmic vinegar on the table. I love some bread with oil and vinegar. I didn't like the white sangria as much as the red and I'll probably order beer next time. Stella liked the white better than the red. Sangria's not really my thing so Stella's taste is probably more correct. She enjoyed her meatballs and conceded that she probably should have had them instead of the pollo y chorizo.

Finally full we got our check to which we were going to use some credit we had built up on our KC Originals card and pay the rest with a credit card. The waitress informed us that we could only use our Originals credit on the only full priced item we got and only on half of that. So instead of being able to use our entire credit we could only use $4. The KC Originals has no such rule that you can only use your credit on full priced items, La Bodega just doesn't want to redeem your credits, so keep that in mind. It makes me only want to redeem points at La Bodega just because they want to make up rules. It soiled an otherwise wonderful experience at La Bodega. It also soils the KC Originals card which we love using. The restaurants love to give you the points but, at least in La Bodega's case, are looking to screw you over when you try to redeem your points. Just know that no rule about redeeming points only on full priced items does not exist.

Other than the points redeeming thing, La Bodega is a must visit place to eat in KC and the patatas bravas is a must order there.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shake Shack

The Shake Shack on Santa Fe in old Overland Park (8039 Santa Fe Dr.) has taken over the spot vacated by Wheat State Pizza recently. I've lived in this neighborhood for nearly 10 years and this is one of those locations that seems to have had a new restaurant every year. It just seems like it's a tough place to make a living. But, I think Shake Shack has a pretty good shot at making it.

The painting on the windows says "Local, Organic, Sustainable", 3 words that excite hipsters and recycling friendly suburbanites like no other. I'm only interested in if it tastes good. I was heartened to see whole potatoes laying around the grill area as I walked in the door meaning they're cutting their own fries. If a place is cutting their own fries they're taking a giant step towards being a really good restaurant. As soon as the 2 ladies in line in front of me placed their burger orders, I saw the grill man reach in the fridge, grab 2 balls of hamburger and flatten them on the grill. Made to order burgers, another step in the right direction. When I looked at the menu, I marveled at the simplicity of a six item menu. Single basket, double basket, veggie basket, fries, onion rings, shakes/floats, there was beauty in the simplicity. I ordered a single basket and was confronted with the question "fries or rings", I froze. To which the counter guy (who I'm pretty sure is the owner) said "we can also do a fifty/fifty". Sold. I inquired what kind of shakes they had, only chocolate and vanilla on this day but they usually have strawberry. The owner was surprised at how quickly the strawberry shakes sold. He could have sold one more, but I had to have chocolate instead.

Do you want to go here if you're in a big hurry? Probably not, it takes a couple minutes to cook your burger. But, you're at least entertained a little bit by the owner who is a pretty happy guy. He's happy to tell you to bring in some art to hang on the walls. He's happy to talk to the customers. He's probably pretty happy because he owns a pretty cool little burger place. He's happy to let you put the trojan helmet on that's laying around on the counter. It's not a really organized system they're running over there, but they keep it fun and loose. A little happiness around makes the wait much more bearable.

I got my burger to go but I very easily could have eaten it there. They have a couple of tables outside where you can look through the park and see the historic carriage house. Or you can sit at one of the 8 barstools in the restaurant if the weather isn't to your liking. I brought my burger home and unwrapped it and was a little disappointed in the look of my fries and rings. I tried a fry and it was a bit soggy like it wasn't rinsed before it was fried. The onion rings were obviously hand cut and battered and, while inconsistent in thickness, were well cooked. The burger was stacked with some lettuce, a thick slice of tomato and enough diced onions for 4 burgers at any place. The Shake Shack promises that all of these items are locally grown, including the beef. I'm not sure if that means they won't have tomatoes in the winter or if they'll have South American tomatoes or what. I don't get locavorism, but I do know that all the toppings were delicious (my son ate the tomato). The burger taste was quite beefy with very few other flavors. If you like a simple burger like you'd get at a family picnic, the Shake Shack has the burger for you. I had to throw a couple of dashes of Tabasco and some ketchup on to make it good, your taste may vary. I will say they don't scrimp on throwing in condiment packets in your to go bag. I left the mustard and mayo packets there. With some salt on the fries and rings, everything was quite satisfactory. It was a good $5 lunch, $8 with a shake which was also good but a little ordinary. The biggest compliment I can give a place is to say I ate every bite and I ate every bite of my Shake Shack lunch.

The Shake Shack wants to be your organic, local burger stand and I can't really say they aren't organic or local, I'll leave that for someone who cares about such things to determine. What they are though is a good little local burger stand. Eating there is almost like going back in time to an old McDonald's with 10 cent burgers. There's nothing extraordinary here, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I'd like to think that The Shake Shack will become a neighborhood staple like John's Space Age, Villa Capri or the Dragon Inn. I do know the owner can definitely become one of the bigger characters in the neighborhood. Go, give The Shake Shack a shot, but be sure to take cash or check because they don't take the cards.