Monday, February 20, 2012

Slice of Life: The Burger Shack

As soon as I finish writing up today's blog post (see, back on schedule, like I promised), I'm going to be collecting Jess and Andrea, whom I've mentioned in previous posts such as the one about Satan's grandma.  Fortunately, we will not be facing that horror today, in part because they're bringing their baby niece Avah and we don't want to traumatize the child.

The three of us have a number of local places where we like to assemble to do a number of important things, chief among them eating and talking.  I won't speak for my friends, but I myself happen to be a champion at both of these activities.  I probably do them better than I do anything else, with the exception of sleeping; I can do some professional-grade sleeping sometimes.  Anyway, we tend to favor visiting non-chain establishments; we like to give our money to the places that are unique to the Lehigh Valley.  I've been meaning to focus on each of these at some point, and since we're going there today, I'm going to start with the Burger Shack.

There's only one Burger Shack, and it's ours, so my apologies if you don't get to experience this for yourself.  The Burger Shack's main draw is its stuffed burgers - thick patties of 94% lean beef which have been both filled and covered with your choice of ingredients, like cheddar cheese and bacon.  All of their burgers are named after buildings - the Shack, the Bungalow (that's the cheddar and bacon one), the Shed, and so forth.  I have a particular fondness for the Homestead, which is basically a meat loaf burger, complete with mashed potatoes and gravy.  On a bun.  It's even more awesome than it sounds.

Their regular fries are good, but my preference is for the sweet potato fries, which are so delicious that when I first tried them, I wondered if I could ever be happy with regular fries again.  They also offer plain burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and in the winter months, fresh soup.  Oh, and there are pierogies.  And whoopie pies.  And I realize that if you're not Pennsylvania Dutch then those terms might not make sense to you, so allow me to explain.

Pierogies are actually Eastern European in origin, and are basically a pasta shell filled with ingredients and cooked.  They can be prepared in a variety of ways, but the Pennsylvania Dutch way is to fill the shells with mashed potato and cheese and then either sautee them in butter and onions or, as the Burger Shack offers them, deep fry them and add some salt.  The Shack's pierogies are huge and best eaten as a main course rather than a side dish, at least in my experience.

Whoopie pies, by comparison, come to us from our Amish brethren.  (Allegedly they also have some New England connection, but we don't talk about that around here.)  It's a pair of round cakes, traditionally chocolate, with creamy filling.  Think of it as a cake version of an Oreo cookie.  The Burger Shack's whoopie pie supplier mixes it up by offering a variety of cake and filling flavors.  Every month they debut a new flavor, and if you're the first person on their Facebook page to correctly guess what it is, you get a free one.

I'm making myself hungry.

Apart from the food, we love the Shack so much because they know us.  We walk in and they recognize us on sight.  The owner stops by our table to say hello.  (I'm not sure they know our names, but they know us and that's plenty.)  It's a very friendly atmosphere, with cheerful yellow walls and lots of smiles.  They greet you when you walk in and say goodbye when you walk out.

I can't write any more, I'm too hungry.  I'm picking up my friends and heading out to lunch.  If you live close enough to try the Burger Shack for yourself, tell them I sent you!

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