Photo by Leslie

A true Midwesterner reviews Seattle's Steak 'n Shake

August 31, 2016

Leslie is the Program Director for 107.7 The End. That means she is the big kahuna, the skipper, El Presidente, the boss. She also happens to be from the Midwest, the land of the original Steak 'n Shake. This year, her dreams came true and Steak 'n Shake came to Seattle. This is her review:

- - - - - -

I remember the evening like it was yesterday. Sitting on the couch, my fiancé looked up from his phone.

“Steak ’n Shake is coming to Seattle,” he said. 

I leapt toward him to see what he was seeing and there it was, Seattle Met reporting that the fast food of my youth would finally come to Seattle. 

I took to Twitter to see that my fellow former Midwesterners were as excited as I was. We could get Frisco melts whenever we wanted! Milkshakes for days! Those perfectly crispy little fries! I’d found my people – the ones who openly use the phrase “Workaurant.”

By early 2016, I’d (over)hyped Steak ’n Shake to all my Seattle friends. My nostalgic tales of late nights with friends in a cozy booth rehashing the evening over fries and shakes had them convinced this was the fast casual burger Seattle wanted, nay, needed. That’s when we learned the location of this new Seattle staple – 3rd Avenue. Like, between Pike and Pine. 

Centrally located, sure, but maybe not the block you show off to visitors. The concept of this restaurant was unveiled as well – a Steak 'n Shake in name only; this location would feature a limited menu, no dish-ware and only counter service, not Steak 'n Shake’s signature table service. As in, a “Workaurant.” 

While skeptical, I didn’t let that stop me from following my own hype (and love of steakburgers) to 3rd Avenue for lunch on Opening Day, May 25th. I arrived, anticipating a delicious lunch that would surely put me in a food coma by 2pm, only to find the power out in all of downtown Seattle. Mission not accomplished.

Weeks later, still without a visit under my belt (I got married this summer; Steak 'n Shake wasn’t on the menu for a few weeks), the Seattle Times posted this sad, bland review of 3rd Avenue’s newest burger. 

Bethany Jean Clement’s lines like “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” were stakes through my heart. But hey, at least the “floors are very clean” (more than can be said about other things happening at 3rd Avenue). All I wanted was for my favorite place that tastes like home to show off for Seattle. 

Finally, after the Band of Horses EndSession last week, I encountered my first Seattle Frisco melt. And boy, was it greasy, but it tasted like home nonetheless. The milkshake was delicious. Potentially the best Steak 'n Shake milkshake I’ve ever encountered (I’m willing to keep trying to find out, though). The fries… OK, the fries were well below par. Sad fries. In the end, I got a taste of home, even if it was a moderately disappointing bite. I’m still devoted to Steak 'n Shake as an idea, as a memory, as a favorite stop in St. Louis, but I probably can’t prove to my friends here that Steak 'n Shake is the place to be. It’s true what they say – you can’t go home [to Steak 'n Shake> again.

Follow The End on Twitter: @1077TheEnd
Follow Leslie on Twitter: @LeslieInSeattle