After our disappointment with the dessert offerings at Eataly, BL and I were marooned on 5th Avenue and 23rd Street with nothing sweet in sight. We peeked around the corner to see if the Van Leeuwen truck was parked in one of its frequent spots-- it wasn't. What to do, what to do? Figured we might as well check out the only thing that came to mind: Shake Shack.
Now, as you know, I've had mixed experiences with Shake Shack custard, but I'm always the optimist when it comes to frozen treats. Plus, I figured, the line would be too long, and we'd have to go elsewhere anyway. Well, the regular line WAS very long, almost snaking its way out of the park entirely-- BL was discouraged-- but I pressed forward to check out the B line. The B line WAS no line. Honestly. One person sneaked his way in there in front of us, but we waited approximately 30 seconds and were at the window, ordering our dessert.
BL chose the daily special custard, grasshopper. The woman at the register described it as "chocolate mint," and I was expecting regular mint chocolate chip. But what emerged looked smooth and chocolatey; I took one bite and it tasted just like an Andes mint. Damn, I thought, that's good, and I'd tweaked.
Turned out, however, that this time around, for the first time, I HADN'T tweaked. My concoction, a cup of half-vanilla, half-chocolate, with caramel sauce on top-- was good. Nay, delicious! I gobbled it down, the caramel sauce sparse but flavorful, the vanilla and chocolate mixing and complementing one another like the best of black & white cookies.
So what did I learn from this experience? While I might not jump at the Shack's vanilla custard straight up, when it's paired and doctored with more flavorful elements, it's quite a good conveyance. This visit made me a believer.
Madison Park, 23rd Street and Madison Avenue