News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Restaurant review: Steak ‘n Shake
BY LINDA SALISBURY
There is something about the concept of burgers, fries and shakes that is iconically American. And like many fast-food places that dish up this type of fare, Steak ’n Shake’s prices are affordable for many families. My Dining Partner and I decided to check out this eatery in Massaponax to see why the place is so popular.
Despite the large number of kids, the noise level made adult conversation possible, and the floors were remarkably clean even during the busy dinner hour.
We were greeted by “Sprinkles,” one of our well-trained and gracious servers. The menu was more extensive than we had anticipated. Our sampling began with five-way chili ($4.99), one of several chili options. Served on a pillow of spaghetti, the beef chili topped with grated cheese and onions had good flavor.
Of course, we had to try the shakes ($2.99). I ordered the mint-and-cookie milkshake.
Cookie lovers will enjoy the crunch (the cookie bits did not soften in the shake during the meal), but it wasn’t as minty as I had hoped.
MDP ordered a peanut-butter-and-chocolate shake—a satisfying combination.
As anticipated, steakburgers are the prime draw. I ordered one topped with portobello mushrooms, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and garlic mayo ($4.99), adding a side of coleslaw ($1.79). The meat has a totally different texture and flavor from your typical hamburger.
It reminded MDP of his high school days and the $1-a-bag White Castle sliders: tender, nongreasy and full of flavor. The lightly sautéed mushrooms were fresh—a perfect addition.
A word about portions. At a time when many restaurants overdo calorie-and-salt loaded additions, such as fries, to a meal, Steak ’n Shake uses relatively small (china) plates and a reasonable portion of shoestring fries. The chain posts information online about the nutritional composition of each option, from salads to fries, which could help families make healthier choices.
MDP ordered the chipotle steakburger ($4.99) and substituted a green salad for the fries. (There is a small substitution charge.)
He was very pleased with the burger that came with pepperjack cheese, bacon, cilantro and spicy chipotle mayo. He was surprised by the size of the fresh salad and the good flavor of the balsamic dressing, which was served in a portion cup rather than a packet.
Steak ’n Shake was founded in 1934 by Gus Belt in Normal, Ill., where he introduced his milkshakes and steakburgers made from prime steaks brought into the restaurant and ground up in view of the customers.
This led to the chain’s motto of “In sight it must be right,” and today’s customers can still watch the busy kitchen in operation.
Having savored our milkshakes, we decided to forgo dessert.
Steak ’n Shake earned a spot on our return-to list for flavor, service and value.
Linda Salisbury is the author of the Bailey Fish books, an award-winning adventure series for kids.