Shake Shack, the fast-casual burger chain, enjoys a massive cult following. Its neon green logo is as familiar as the Golden Arches.
Ascend the escalator to the third floor at the Mall of America and the flash of that familiar green burger will meet your eye. But wait. Shake Shack isn’t due to arrive at the mall until summer. This sign's for Burger Burger, the latest from Kaskaid Hospitality (Crave, Union, Salsa a la Salsa, and multiple other concept restaurants).
Inside, a lipstick-red slogan reading “Shake it Off!” splashes as large as life on the back wall. It's possibly an innocent allusion to the nearby shake blending station, but I doubt it.
The dining room is an anywhere-USA kind of place. Industrial furniture. A lot of wide open space. Intense lighting. It's the kind of environment that gently nudges you to enjoy your meal and kindly move on. Happily, there’s also a full bar.
Aside from the fact that both establishments serve burgers, fries, and shakes, there are few menu comparisons to make. Burger Burger serves about 10 variations on ground-daily burgers, hand-cut fries with about a dozen handmade dipping sauces, a couple of salads, and a number of shakes. It’s an admirably tight menu, leaving less leeway for blunders.
Our order arrived quickly, hot, juicy, and delicious. The classic has white American cheese, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo dripping prodigiously with every bite. A more manly affair, the B.A.M.F. (Big And Meaty Fun) — with sharp cheddar, onion, pickle, mayo, french fries, and bacon — also came together nicely. Both burgers managed to maintain the elegant integrity of the modern burger — not too big, medium rare, squishily comforting bun.
This is a truly craveable burger, good enough to get you to drive to the mall.
Unfortunately, the heavily advertised fry sauces surpass the fry. Guacamole ranch had nice green hunks of real avocado, and the smokey bacon ketchup is housemade and likable, a heretofore unaccomplished feat. But the otherwise nicely hand-cut fries were besieged by a glut of icky seasoning salt.
The experience is ultimately not on par with a Shake Shack, which manages to produce the ultimate fast food burger that somehow takes on the richness of dry-aged steak.
Kaskaid has done itself a disservice by mirroring that juggernaut. It has a product superior enough to stand on its own. But the savvy shopper will ultimately choose the better brand.
In the meantime, know that Burger Burger is the ultimate mall meal of the moment. It’s fast. It’s delicious. It’s not overwrought. And it’s cheap. Burgers fall in the $6-$8 range for an excellent eating experience. One that even comes with the option of an adult drink, pretty much an imperative when braving the mall.
So get them while they’re still hot. Once summer arrives, a better burger will take this throne.
Third Floor of the Mall of America, Bloomington
321 South Avenue