When your birthday falls in the middle of the summer, there's really only one place to celebrate: outdoors.
That's why I chose to mark my 30th birthday Friday at one of New York's most beloved -- and informal -- outdoor food-and-drink spots: the Shake Shack at Madison Square Park.
Paul and a couple of friends got to the Shake Shack before I arrived at 6:30 p.m. with coworkers in tow, and they had already assembled a string of tables and marked our territory by tying red balloons onto the chairs. Other friends -- about 15 or 20 in all -- came and went over the next four hours.
The Shake Shack is known for three things: its milkshakes, its burgers and its long lines. I've experienced all three at one time or another, but none on Friday night. The "A" line for hot food was about an hour long when we arrived (and got even longer later in the night), and a few friends braved the crowd. I had just stuffed myself with birthday cake and cupcakes at work, so I was content with drinks from the much shorter "B" line. Not that I stood in line for the drinks anyway. A birthday girl always has friends to do that for her.
By 10:45 p.m. everyone had left and we had given three of the helium balloons to three young brothers who were probably more excited by the unexpected gift than by their burgers. The Shake Shack was to close in 15 minutes, so Paul and I hurried to get in line for a hot dog (for him), fried mushroom burger (for me) and cheese fries (to share). A lonely red balloon remained on a chair as we walked away to ring out my birthday.
|Earlier in the night.|