Living in Twickenham (the 'burbs on the outskirts of London), it's hard to drag me into Central London on the weekends without prior planning. However, I got a call Saturday to have lunch on short notice at Shake Shack, and I quickly got on the train.
Shake Shack, one of the best fast food burger joints in America (that's a big statement, I know), opened a branch in Covent Garden last summer. If you're an American expat or are otherwise in need of a bit of 'Merica, head there.
Shake Shake Covent Garden has the classic Shake Shack menu but with locally-sourced, British ingredients. They've also added a few British-themed Concretes to the menu. The burgers are everything that you would expect - a substantial, yummy fast food-style burger made with quality ingredients. The fries are great too - both crispy (crinkled) and soft on the inside. Shakes - fantastic. K got the Sticky Toffee Concrete (the poor, British thing thought that the "custard" in "frozen custard" was English custard, not ice cream). It a ton of syrups and chocolate candy in it and was very sickly, sweet. Both K and I are serious sweet lovers, and this was just too much.
After lunch, I walked around Covent Garden and did a bit of shopping, before I was in serious need of a coffee. I thought this was the perfect excuse to try out the Balthazar Boulangerie, another recent New York import to Covent Garden. Next door to the Balthazar restaurant, the smaller boulangerie offers a variety of sandwiches, soups, breads, pastries, packaged goods and hot drinks. There are a few seats to have lunch in the shop, as well.
Although it was really tempting to get something that I could eat right away, I ended up taking away two rhubarb, custard and pistachio brioche tarts for after dinner. They were delicious. The rhubarb was tart and gave the tart a bit more depth. My efforts in getting something for later paid off when I received a huge free sample of dark chocolate covered honeycomb (US read: sponge candy). I'm going to have to exercise some will power to prevent myself from finding excuses to go to Covent Garden just to stop by Balthazar.
Ratings: (numbers out of 10, £ out of 4)
Food: 8 (on a scale of similar burgers)
Atmosphere: 7 (simply because you dine on the Covent Garden piazza)
Overall experience: 8
Overall experience: 9