Shake Shack Cardiff occupies a prime first-floor plot on the corner of the restaurant hub in the St Davids 2 Shopping Centre. I was invited by Shake Shack to the launch, giving me the chance to try their world-renowned burgers and unique Welsh offerings.
Shake Shack had humble beginnings in New York’s Madison Square Park 14 years ago as a hot dog cart. Now a critically acclaimed modern day burger stand, the Shack brings 100% natural Angus beef burgers, flat-top dogs, crinkly fries and more to the table. They hopped across the pond to London’s Covent Garden in 2013 where business boomed and their UK fan base flourished.
I chatted with Mark Rosati, the company’s Culinary Director about opening in Wales. Originally from Connecticut, he loved Cardiff’s community spirit and agreed “it’s a city with a small-town feel” as you’re never too far away from a familiar friendly face. It’s this unique quality of Cardiff that appealed to Shake Shack, as one would naturally assume the next locations for UK expansion after London would be larger cities like Birmingham or Manchester.
I think it’s also a testament to the Welsh appetite for great food and drink. Mark and his team have recognised the growing food and craft beer scene and found some great businesses to collaborate with for Shake Shack Cardiff, such as Fabulous Welshcakes and Tiny Rebel Brewing Co.
The ‘Welshcake Jam Concrete‘ (£5) is made by mixing at high speed frozen vanilla custard, welshcake and strawberry jam. It was very enjoyable and 5% of sales go to The Wallich, a charity tackling homelessness across Wales.
You can also get creative and design your own concrete with a variety of mix-ins like marshallow sauce and hazelnut brownie.
I love that Shake Shack UK are open to collaborating with reputable local businesses in each location and Mark is keen to expand and develop menu in the months and years to come.
Dad can enjoy a ShackMeister Ale (£5.50 a pint) or handpicked local craft beer, Mum can have wine and the kids can tuck into a frozen custard shake or flat-top dog. Even the pet dog at home doesn’t go without, the Shack offers dog biscuits and ice cream to takeaway!
I tried one of the peanut butter shakes on the launch evening, fans of snickers chocolate should look no further – a perfectly smooth consistency and taste. One of Mark’s favourites is a mix of peanut butter and chocolate. Other flavours to try include: vanilla, chocolate, caramel, black & white and strawberry.
The burgers are some of the juiciest and leanest I’ve come to try – 100% all-natural Aberdeen Angus beef patties. Though they’re not the largest of burgers, quality over quantity does ring true. I was also rather impressed by the uniformity between each burger as it promises the same level of quality and taste with each visit.
In the ShackBurger’s moist bread roll is lettuce, tomato and cheese topped with a delicious ShackSauce that oozes onto your tongue with every bite. The paper bag is also rather practical, no greasy hands and little chance of food accidents.
I’m not overly keen on bacon but really appreciated the taste of the SmokeShack with free range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon, chopped cherry pepper and ShackSauce. I can see this being a popular option for Cardiff goers nursing a hangover or desiring a weekend treat. There are currently six burger options available (including a vegetarian ‘Shroom Burger for £5.50) and four flat-top dogs. The cumberland style pork sausage (£4.50) is from Jimmy’s Farm in East Anglia.
The light, golden crinkle cut fries were as good as I remembered. I enjoyed them with the cheese sauce alone but there’s sauce dispensers available too. The burgers are priced reasonably at £5.50 for a single ShackBurger or £8.75 for a double. The shakes are a pricey £5.25, but it’s a worthwhile treat every now and then.
A double ‘ShackMeister’.
Shake Shack Cardiff is open now in St Davids 2 Cardiff, “byrgyrs am byth”!
For more information and full menu, visit Shake Shacks website by clicking here.
Thanks to Shake Shack Cardiff, PR and Mark for a fun launch event and the complimentary food and drinks. All opinions are my own.