When Ford Fry and the Buckhead Atlanta outpost for Shake Shack team up to offer a one-day-only special on September 19, it will mark a departure from normal procedure for the beloved burger chain. Shake Shack will serve up a double-stack for the first time ever — though its regular menu items can be ordered as doubles — and the burger will be topped with a fried oyster. Fry and Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati recently dished on the special with Eater Atlanta. Here's what to expect.
It's inspired by the butter burger at The Optimist: "Currently my favorite burger is the butter burger at The Optimist, so I wanted to do a play on that," Fry said. "We're going to incorporate butter into the Shake Shack grind, which is very similar to our grind at The Optimist. It'll be two [4 ounce] patties, comeback sauce, some smoked onions, bread-and-butter pickles, and two slices of American cheese. So it's a real crispy burger because that fat comes out. The butter starts dripping, so it gets that crunch but it's really juicy on the inside. And then what we're going to do, we're going to fry an oyster, like a cornmeal fried oyster, and then skewer that in through the top to add a little fun touch."
The Optimist and Shake Shack are collaborating on the burger's parts: "The parameters for the Shake Shack burger is using their meat, using their bun, which is all good," Fry said. "The ingredients are coming from us at The Optimist. So we're going to pickle our own pickles, we're going to smoke the onions. Then we make the comeback sauce, which is a heavy, horseradish-based remoulade."
Fry is a double-stack fan: "Shack Shack typically does a single burger, so I think that'll be a nice little change for people to come in and get a big sloppy burger. I like the double-stack. I mean, it's just a really gluttonous burger. It's real juicy, I think it's really good."
There's no official name yet, but: "We call it the butter burger, but it's kind of got a carpetbagger approach to it," Fry said. "A carpetbagger steak was a steak with fried oysters on top. So it's really The Optimist butter burger, carpetbagger style. Update, September 11: The official name is Carpetbagger Burger.
Fry also considered inspiration from another of his restaurants: "Superica does a burger with cheese, chili gravy that goes on the enchiladas, Fritos," Fry said. "But then I looked up online at what other chefs had done [for special Shake Shack burgers], and they've been fairly fancy. So this way we did kind of a cross. The fried oyster made it a little bit fancier, but it's also that gluttony burger, too.
Fry advises eating the oyster first, but Rosati has a different idea: "I think most people will take the oyster off and eat it first, but I think the move would be to eat the burger," Rosati said. "Let all the juice and all that sauce drip down to the bottom of the basket, and then if you want to dip [the oyster] in all that — I mean, come on."
Fry joins a pretty exclusive list of chefs who have done a Shake Shack special, including April Bloomfield, Daniel Boulud, and David Chang. The burger will be available from 11 a.m. until the kitchen runs out, which Fry estimates should be around "early dinner."
This story has been updated to clarify that regular Shake Shake burgers can be ordered as doubles. Fry's is the first to be specifically designed as a double-stack.