American burger chain Shake Shack will open its seventh London site on Cambridge Circus on Thursday this week. This latest opening, in the heart of London’s west end; opposite a McDonald’s introduces as many new menu items as at any UK Shack since the brand opened its first site in Covent Garden’s piazza in 2012.
Eater London was given a first look at the site and a preview of the two main new menu items: The Yard Burger, a burger that incorporates a Cornish cheddar cheese from nearby Neal’s Yard Dairy; and the Criss Cross ice cream doughnut sandwich, created in collaboration with London-based Crosstown Doughnuts.
Shake Shack’s culinary food director, Mark Rosati, was on hand to talk through his inspiration behind the two offers. He told Eater that despite being a proud New Yorker, “there are two cities that inspire me more than anywhere else right now: that’s Los Angeles and London. And I’m lucky that New York is right in the middle of them both.”
The new menu items both adopt Shake Shack’s signature non-chainy policy of working with local suppliers, producers, and food brands respected in their specific local contexts. “It helps us to bring Shake Shack’s to other cities,” Rosati said. And so to the burger first. Rosati talks about his love of the British roast dinner; and the way, especially, roast beef works with horseradish sauce. The Yard Burger pairs a griddled beef patty with the Hafod cheddar cheese, cured, double-smoked bacon and a sauce that incorporates both horseradish and brown mustard. The burger is unmistakeable Shake Shack, not least because of the pliable Martin’s potato roll, but it tastes British. The new burger will be on the menu until at least the new year.
Elsewhere, a first for the brand, a doughnut ice cream sandwich: the Criss Cross, also slated to remain on the menu for two months. Rosati said that although he and the brand are firm fans of St. John and Bread Ahead, those doughnuts are better suited to a traditional custard filling, whereas the Crosstown doughnut, being more cakey, was the best choice to sandwich Shake Shack’s frozen custard. The chocolate cake, with a white chocolate glaze and dark chocolate crumb and a praline almond brittle is filled with a vanilla frozen custard and drizzled with a sharp black forest fruit compote. Instagram is ready.
Beyond the burger and the new dessert, the brand are for the first time in any Shack introducing gin to the drinks list. “We’re in London, after all,” Rosati said. Both Sipsmith and the East London Liquor Co. have been procured to add an edge to lemonades, the former for a Pimms-style London Cup and the latter to create a straight-up gin lemonade. Asked how Shake Shack discovered these local brands, Rosati said he went to The Clove Club in Shoreditch, to consult barman, Rob Simpson. He calls him both “the priest of spirits” and his “spirit animal.”
As Shake Shack prepares to open this, their eighth UK site, Rosati is aware the brand is no longer new. “How do we keep upping our game?” he asks, rhetorically. “We’re doubling down.”