A beloved Midwestern burger chain lands in downtown Seattle with a resounding thud. What's good? Clean floors. What's not-so-good? The burgers.
Midwesterners in Seattle rejoiced — calmly, of course — when they heard their beloved Steak ’n Shake was coming to downtown. Now that it’s open, let’s just assume something about the burger chain has been lost in transplantation. From the hollow-sounding, clearly mandatory “HellowelcometoSteaknShake” greeting to the lackluster-at-very-best food, this place inspires not devotion, but regret.
The menu: The signature Steakburgers are touted as “100% beef, including steak,” a legalistic reassurance that perhaps raises more questions than it answers. The Seattle outlet has a pared-down menu with no breakfast, but in this case, less is almost certainly more. It also lacks the chain’s customary real dishware and table service, niceties that’d merely make the sorrow of the food more stark.
What’s best: Steak ’n Shake’s floors are very clean, a product of what appears to be near-constant mopping. Slightly upbeat, unobtrusive music plays at a low volume. There are booths. Beer is served.
Steak ’n Shake
1417 Third Ave., Seattle, 206-823-3030, steaknshake.com; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; $
What to skip: While the Signature Steakburger resembles Five Guys’ work with its fatter-than-most patty and apparently real lettuce, tomato, etc., it tasted notably bland. The grilled cheese/burger mashup known as the Frisco Melt was greasy and leaden, provoking a weighty sense of hopelessness. Skinny, golden fries were akin to McDonald’s, but were far, far worse: dry and listless, badly in need of salt. (A dose of Fry ’n Steakburger Seasoning added a flavor profile that my dining companion aptly identified as eerily reminiscent of “Oriental” Top Ramen.) In a blind taste-test, the chocolate shake would be impossible to identify as chocolate.
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The décor: The neo-diner-style interior is black and white and red all over — pleasant enough, though photos of the original Steak ’n Shake drive-ins have the unintended effect of provoking nostalgia for a time when the food might’ve been more edible. One shows the slogan “It’s a Meal” — an overstatement.
Summing up: A Signature Steakburger ’n Fries ($8.99), a Frisco Melt ’n Fries with a chocolate shake ($8.99), and an addition of chili and cheese to one order of fries ($1, and too depressing to discuss above) made a strong argument that food should be more expensive than this at $20.80 with tax.