Island Burgers and Shakes, New York, NY

Last night I went with some friends to explore one of my other favorite passions, dogs, at an AKC sponsored event called Meet the Breeds at Javits Center. As far as I know, it’s still running today, so if any of my New York readers have a hankering for furry animals, head over there.

That’s my plug for today, now onto the review. I’m a big fan of little dives. Not talking the kind of stuff Guy Fieri reviews, which could have his bleached hair on a bun and he’d still eat it, but little, tiny, neon-lit places in the backs of stores, hidden away. Such was the case of Island Burgers and Shakes.
I keep wanting to type Island Burgers and Fries, but that’s exactly one of the things that they don’t serve. More about that later. The outside is rather unassuming, but the inside is hopping with people. Many bright colors, funky surfboards, and little candles surround the place, which can’t be more than fifty feet long and ten feet wide.

So I sat with my friends and we waited, and got our menus. The menu is massive, and filled with funkily-named selections like “Tijuana” (guacamole, bacon, and sauteed onions) and “Sans Spud” (sour cream, bacon, chives, and pepper jack cheese). I opted for the churasco, which is the purportedly famous grilled chicken sandwich, in the Sans Spud flavor, and a malted black and white shake.
The shake was a decent size, not the biggest, not the smallest I’ve had, and had the fascinating physical property of being lukewarm and still retaining the properties of ice cream. I, personally, prefer an ice-cold, freezing shake. It was one of the thickest shakes I’d ever had. A black and white milkshake is a vanilla milkshake with drizzles of chocolate syrup on the glass, to satisfy the need for both flavors. It was quite creamy, with a very heavy malt flavor, just the way I like it, and the chocolate syrup made good appearances in most of my sips. It was just extremely thick and the temperature was not quite right.

6/10- GOOD

And then, the sandwich came.

The chicken breast was made from a mutant, giant chicken. Easily the biggest piece of boneless chicken I’ve ever seen, like, half the size of a regular chicken. I had to cut off the little part hanging off the edge just to make it fit on the ciabatta. The roll was decent. Extremely floury, so that was the predominant bun flavor, but the fluffiness and chewy texture kind of made up for it.
The grilled chicken was supposed to be the world-famous star of the meal, but I was just unimpressed. Its size was the only really redeeming quality, and the texture was great, moist, and tender, but it was generally flavorless. I would have expected some sort of a rub or marinade or at least a dusting of salt and pepper, and I’ll tell you this, no matter how gourmet and wonderful chicken is, without flavor, it’s just awful. So that was the chicken. The toppings were good, the bacon was cooked quite well, and the sour cream and chives added a bagel-like quality and creaminess to the sandwich. Didn’t taste much cheese.

On the back of the menu, they explain why they don’t have fries, citing the reason for a small space and no room for a deep fryer, but fries could easily redeem this restaurant. Without a size, the burgers seem impossibly small, the sandwiches kind of bland, and the meal…somewhat incomplete. Although they do serve baked potatoes and potato chips, the mealy french fry makes the meal. It’s like peanut butter without jelly or fluff. Just…not right.

5/10- OKAY

Island Burgers and Shakes
766 9th Ave, 51/52nd St
New York, NY, 10019

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