So, these books/websites that I’m using to pinpoint great food on this project typically include only non-chain restaurants. There are only a handful of chains that sneak their way into the lists. Here’s one of them. Steak ‘n Shake was founded in 1934 in Illinois. There are now more than 500 different locations throughout the United States and Europe. The Steakburger is their signature dish; it was called that because it was originally made of a mixture of beef that included T-Bone, Sirloin and Round steak meat. The restaurants were originally set up with long windows into the kitchen, so that customers could see for themselves that the cooks were grinding steaks into the hamburger meat. In something of a grand statement about the nature of chain restaurants, the hamburgers are still called Steakburgers even though steak is no longer used in preparing the burgers.
Anyway, there’s three Steak ‘n Shakes in my area of Oklahoma, so I popped down to the closest one to see about the Steakburger. I had there an extremely negative experience that I’m going to outline in some detail, even though it touches on things not related to the food. Service was incredibly poor. Two employees were arguing in the kitchen doorway as I entered. Another one strolled up and escorted me to a painfully small booth. He then took my order standing far, far too close to me, considering that I was seated right next to him. Let’s just say I was dead on crotch level.
The burger arrived and tasted overwhelmingly of grease. Seriously, grease was all I could taste. The meat had no real flavor itself and was so greasy that the vegetables had been completely covered in grease and the hamburger bun itself had also been permeated to the degree of being soggy. It was one of the most disgusting hamburgers I’ve ever had in my life, tell you the truth.
I then went to the counter to pay. I walked up to the cash register and I then realized that one of the workers was squatted behind the counter, sort of attempting to hide from the patrons’ view, talking on a cell phone. He looked up and met my gaze as I stepped to the counter. We froze for a moment, taking in the odd situation. Then . . . and I swear I am not lying . . . he covered the mouthpiece of the phone, said, “It’s my mom!” and then stood up and literally jogged away. I think that speaks for itself.
Disgusting hamburger, negative experience all around. I’m giving this a Strongly Warned Against. ½ star.
tl;dr – disgusting, greasy, insubstantial hamburger matched the poor service and the weird employees perfectly. What a nightmare. ½ star.
Next time, we’ll move into a new state as we hit up one of the most famous fried chicken restaurants in Arkansas; presidents love it – and so do I!