Since we're on the subject of burgers, it seems fitting to talk about milk shakes. A milk shake is a burger's best friend -- the creamy, sweet counterpoint to its savory fattiness. A good milk shake is to a burger what bacon is to eggs, Kobe is to the Lakers, and a Slinky is to a staircase. It just makes your sandwich taste that much better.
I had some time to think about milk shakes this weekend and what makes a good one. I went up to the new Northwood burger spot Relish with a few friends, and they brought along a visitor from Peru who was staying with them. Mario had been in America only a few days, but already he'd discovered the joys of the milk shake. His favorite so far had been one he'd gotten from the fast-food chain Steak and Shake. "It was like a little bit of heaven in my mouth," he said wistfully.
As for Relish, the burger joint has a pretty sizable list of custom
shakes with flavors that are more interesting than your typical vanilla
or chocolate. You can get a red-velvet shake, one made to resemble a
helping of s'mores, and even sweet potato pie. Each of them is made to
order by hand and is $4.69.
We sipped on Relish's shakes -- a trio of salted caramel, bananas
foster, and campfire s'mores -- and I asked Mario to compare them to
the one he had at Steak and Shake. "It's not as good," he said between
sips. I asked him to elaborate on why, and he said it had to do with
the ice cream. It just didn't taste as rich.
A milk shake has to be rich and creamy, and a big part of that comes from
the ice cream used. If too much milk is added or, God forbid, ice, then
the milk shake itself is going to taste watered down. That in turn
creates a problem with texture and viscosity, two other key factors in
the world of milk shakes.
Relish's shakes weren't bad by any stretch, but they did have a
slightly vague taste no matter what the flavor was. And the texture was
slightly more soupy than I had hoped for. The question is, is it better
to err on the side of caution and make a thick, unsippable shake, or
one that's too thin?
The best of the lot we tried, I thought, was the bananas foster, simply
because the banana flavor was strong enough to still taste. The s'more
shake had tiny bits of crunchy graham cracker and chocolate throughout,
but I couldn't have discerned the flavor if I didn't already know what
it was. Same with the caramel shake, which was the worst of the bunch.
It's why I find that some of the best milk shakes come from ice cream shops
like Kilwin's. Grab a chocolate shake at Kilwin's and the chocolate
slaps you over the head. It's so thick, rich, and creamy that it's
practically a meal in its own right. If you've got great ice cream,
even a vanilla shake is pure bliss.
Relish should work on its shakes a bit, because the burgers are
damned good. But what they really need is a best friend to make them
taste even better.
401 Northwood Road, West Palm Beach 33407