Taste Test: Shake Shack Brings Haute Cuisine to a Fast Casual Audience With New Truffle Menu

By Amelia Roth-Dishy

To feast on truffles, you once had to rent a special pig to go traipsing through the French forest, and then aggressively scold the pig (in French) when she tried to eat the truffles.

Now all you have to do is step up to the counter and say “slather some truffle sauce on my burger.”

Yes, the luxury burger craze has finally trickled down to the world of “fast casual.” Shake Shack is debuting a new slate of truffle products in conjunction with Regalis Foods, a high-end gourmet foods importer.

This limited-edition menu will be available for the month of December in only four locations nationwide, the Upper West Side (77th and Columbus) being one of the chosen few. It includes three new burger stylings: the Black Truffle Burger ($8.89), the Black Truffle ‘Shroom Burger ($8.89), and the Black Truffle Shack Stack ($11.89). Earlier this week, Shake Shack invited the Rag to test out these new menu items.

To clarify, what Shake Shack’s offering up here are not truffle burgers per se. Urbani Truffles, a luxury truffle emporium with a storefront at 10 West End Avenue, sells a raw “Truffle Burger” patty that consists of Famous Pat LaFrieda meat literally blended with Italian black summer truffles. In an emailed statement, a representative for Urbani Truffles described their truffle burger as “like a steak with fresh truffles shaved on top, but at the first bite it melts in your mouth.” The special truffle product at Shake Shack, on the other hand, is really a fancified condiment that’s spread between patty and bun in place of the brand’s signature Shake Sauce. These truffle-accented burgers taste, perhaps auspiciously, more like burgers than steak.

That’s not to say they aren’t delicious. The sauce itself, made from Regalis Foods’ Organic Black Truffle Arbequina Oil, has a wonderful lightness thanks to a bright taste of vinegar that counters the richness of the real truffle oil and the sauce’s aromatic accents. Compared to the heavy palate of undiluted truffle products, it goes down dangerously easy. A side portion goes for $1.50 and makes for an indulgent fry dip.

The Black Truffle Burger, in particular, is an umami symphony. The truffle sauce seeps into Shake Shack’s signature beef patty on both sides, tangling beautifully with the crispy shallots and melted cheese. Those crispy shallots, which were last seen on Shake Shack’s menu as part of the ShackMeister burger that’s perennially returned by popular demand since 2014, are a revelation in themselves. Without any distracting lettuce or other watery vegetables, the burger is a nicely textured, well-balanced delight.

The truffle-accented ‘Shroom Burger is less of a standout. The cheese-stuffed portobello patty, which is delicious and moist when topped with its usual Shack Sauce, overpowers the delicate truffle taste, while the patty’s deep-fried exterior does little to absorb the sauce. The resulting bite is, unfortunately, a bit dry. Vegetarians looking for their truffle fix might want to order a side of the special sauce and add it to their meal as needed.

The Rag did not get to try the Black Truffle Shack Stack, which consists of a burger and a mushroom patty stacked atop one another and similarly slathered with the black truffle sauce.

All in all, this special menu is a fun, decadent treat for Upper West Siders to avail themselves of this otherwise gloomy holiday season.

FOOD | 9 comments | permalink
    1. Ken says:

      Really? We need this now, really?

      • Boris says:

        Can’t imagine why someone would be critical of the introduction of a new item that others would enjoy. Especially one that’s an affordable treat. Seems like sour grapes to me.

        • nemo paradise says:

          This is a time of hardship and suffering, in which we all must share. Promoting indugence insults the sacrifices of the many, and distracts us from our common mission to defeat the virus.

          More masks, less truffles.

          • Peter says:

            Got it. So, no interesting new products at the struggling local restaurants, so that they can completely go out of business. That should REALLY help those already suffering, and prevent others from new suffering.

            Did I get this right? Do you want to lobby for this with the local politicians, or should we just drop an executive order?

            • nemo paradise says:

              The only important thing right now is that we need to come together as one and do what experts who understand the science tell us to do. And truffles aren’t on that menu.

          • Boris says:

            That’s such a ridiculous and defeatist attitude to have. Curbing spending habits in order to deny that some people have substantial financial means will not make anyone feel better about the overall state of decline of the restaurant scene. It takes people with money to keep the velocity of cash flow going when others can’t participate at the immediate time.

            • nemo paradise says:

              The only things I want to defeat are CoVid and inequity. When thousands are dying daily, and people are struggling to pay their bills, what does it say about our city when people line up for truffles while homeless people roam our streets foraging in trash cans? Have you no heart?

    2. Pepperoni Tony says:

      you over slathered the word ‘slathered’.

    3. Bonnie says:

      FYI—The owner of these restaurants contributes and significantly to charities, as i recall has their own charitable endeavors and treats & pays his staff well.