In a move sure to shake up the sandwich world, recently-public burger chain Shake Shack, owned by famed restauranteur Danny Meyer, announced Tuesday that its three Brooklyn locations would for a limited time offer the ChickenShack, a fried chicken sandwich clearly designed to take on the current kings of the cutlet, Chick-Fil-A.
I happen to live in Brooklyn, and the Flatbush Avenue Shake Shack — which went up recently, likely in a bid to get business from hungry basketball fans and concert-goers from the Barclays Center right across the street — is very near my apartment. So, I headed down, handed over my credit card and dug in.
The verdict? This thing is pretty good.
The chicken is juicy, with a crust the flakes off in crunchy, greasy pieces — just the way you want a good piece of fried chicken to do. The bun is the standard potato roll upon which the Shack’s famous burgers arrive — nothing fancy, but it gets the job done and provides a soft, cushy vessel for your piece of fried fowl.
What really sets the ChickenShack apart, though, is the spread. The sandwich comes with an herbed mayo that provides just the right amount of “foodie” class to make you forget you’re eating at a fast food joint — something Meyer and company are clearly going for with their nearly $7 offering.
Some Twitter users gazing upon my photo of the ChickenShack were suspicious about the mayo levels here, and they weren’t entirely wrong. It was a pretty wet sandwich, with the spread sopping into the bun and resulting in some structural integrity issues. But the flavor kind of made up for that, and I didn’t care as much about the excess sauce as I would have it had been straight mayo.
Of course, the question is going to be whether or not this sandwich can hold a candle to Chick-Fil-A’s famous crispy chicken sandwich. First, a disclaimer: I haven’t eaten at Chick-fil-A in a few years. The CEO’s stance on marriage equality has largely kept me away, no matter how delicious the food is. Plus, there isn’t a full-service Chick-Fil-A in New York — at least not yet — so it wasn’t like I was tempted. From what I remember, though, Shake Shack’s attempt is at least on par with its rivals. The chicken at ShakeShack was a bit crispier, which is, to me, essential.
Chick-fil-A does have one thing on Shake Shack, though — its waffle fries, which are much better than the crinkle cuts Shake Shack offers (I’ve long thought that fries are ShakeShack’s Achilles Heel, but that’s another issue.)
So, here’s the TL;DR: If you live in or near Brooklyn, you should give this sandwich a shot. If you don’t, just hope it’ll arrive at a Shake Shack near you sometime soon.