I couldn’t even stop myself before blurting out “yes,” when the nice cashier at my Shake Shack on 77th and Columbus in Manhattan asked if I had any allergies. I was just so excited to have gotten to the front of the line. I could see a free table. It was the impossible perfect Sunday Shack brunch situation.
“Sure, what are you allergic to?”
“Uh…I’ll just have a Smoke Shack without the bun.”
“Okay, so wheat?”
“…yes.” (in my head): “Dammit, why did I say yes?”
So yes, I am allergic to wheat and I do take my burger without the bun. But oddly enough, the occasional beer doesn’t completely demolish me like a bun would. I’m not a scientist or a doctor, I’m not even a food allergy buff. So I will enjoy a bite of your sandwich and the occasional pint, especially when I waited in line for 20 minutes for the beer Brooklyn Brewery crafted for Shake Shack’s delightful beefy fare: the slightly bitter, very citrusy and totally-worth-the-wait Shackmeister Ale.
“And a Shackmeister,” I finished.
“Okay, you know the beer has wheat in it, right?”
“Yes, it’s not a life-threatening allergy. Just the burger without the bun, thanks.”
I took my buzzer-thing and sat with my boyfriend, who asked if I was sure I wanted a beer and pointed out the lovely custom-bottled Shake Shack Napa Chardonnay on the menu. Had my good friend, Food Republic beer writer Jonathan Katz been there, he might have recommended his meticulously selected 5 Gluten-Free Beers That Are Actually Worth Drinking.
“No, I want a beer!”
When my buzzer-thing buzzed more quickly than usual, I went up to retrieve my bunless Shack-Sauced, bacon-loaded burger, perfectly safe fries and ONE BEER. My order was not there, but an equally friendly second cashier was, with some useful information.
“Hi miss, I just wanted to let you know the system informed us of a wheat allergy conflict with your order. You know there’s gluten in the beer, right?”
He held up my receipt to show, in angry red, that I’d been caught with my hand in the beer-cookie jar by what was clearly a very concerned machine. People stared as though I couldn’t feed myself.
“Yup, I’m aware of the gluten. It’s just one, I’ll be fine,” I said.
“Alright, just wanted to make sure. Your food will be ready soon.”
And it was. We sat and hoovered burgers, dogs and fries while this reciept sat on the tray, staring at me. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love Shake Shack any harder, it showed me it loved me back (or at least cared a bunch). Thanks, Shack.
More on the mighty burger at Food Republic: