Make no mistake about it: people are very excited about Shake Shack’s new fresh-cut fries, which just launched at the chain’s Upper East Side location. As we were waiting in line to order last night, the twenty-something girl behind us bounced up and down in her heels and said to her friend, “Fresh-cut fries! Fresh-cut fries!” in the same way you might expect to hear someone say “Cronuts! Cronuts!” After years of serving up frozen crinkle-cuts - which always seemed just “okay” next to the chain’s above-average burgers and addictive concretes - the chain has switched to a fresh-cut, double-fried version made from Burbank russet potatoes, and it was all anyone seemed to be ordering on the night we visited.
So do they live up to the hype? We’ve always been somewhat wary of fresh-cut fries on fast food menus - often they seem to end up too crispy or too soggy - but these defied our expectations. First of all, they taste very much like potatoes. This might seem like a “duh” observation, but often French fries taste more like something fried than any actual vegetable. These are flavorful enough to eat on their own, without dunking them in ketchup, and taste like the kind of fries you might expect to get alongside a gourmet burger at an upscale restaurant: just the right proportion of crispy to soft, lightly salted, not too greasy. We ate ours with an extra side of Shack Sauce and it reminded us of eating fries at a Belgian gastropub with aioli - they’re that good. The French tourists sitting next to us were eating theirs with cheese sauce (with forks) and sipping wine, which seemed like the perfect high-low combination - we had a major case of food envy watching them.
Now that Umami Burger has opened up downtown, it seems like Shake Shack is upping their game - given how awesome these new fries are, we’re curious to see what they come up with next. For now, the new fries are available only at the 154 E. 86th St. location (646-237-5035), but they should be rolling out to all locations within the next few months.