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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Fresh-N-Fast

111 E 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010 (map)
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Taste doesn't live up to the prices.
Want Fries with That? Maybe; fresh cut fries are salty and mostly crispy. Would like them to be crispier.
Prices: Cheeseburger, $4.74; french fries, $2.60; shake, $4.89

Fresh-N-Fast first popped up on our radar when they posted this Craigslist ad earlier this month. Grub Street followed up with a few photos and information about the In-N-Out clone, and the readers of Midtown Lunch reported its opening last Friday. I finally made it over today during my lunch break.

In my last review of a burger joint somewhat near Shake Shack, I couldn't help but leave with the impression, "I may as well have gone to Shake Shack." And that's the same thing here, except Fresh-N-Fast is only one avenue away from Madison Square Park. Still, here are some photos and commentary.

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In addition to the double hyphenation and color scheme (not that In-N-Out has a monopoly on the red-and-yellow combination), Fresh-N-Fast's menu looks just like In-N-Out's menu—except In-N-Out is about half the price. I guess that's what we get for living in New York City.

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The cheeseburger ($4.74) came on a lightly toasted potato bun, topped with lettuce, raw onion, tomato, pickles, and their special sauce. The woman at the counter said the patties were three ounces, but it felt heftier than that. Maybe it was just the height of the toppings.

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First impression: something tasted off. The meat was mostly juicy and sort of greasy, but there was a flavor that I couldn't place and didn't find that appealing. My friend took a bite and said the funny flavor was fat. A funky off-fatty flavor. It's rare that I ever think too much fat is a bad thing, and I assume it contributed to the burger's juiciness, but that's pretty much the only flavor I remember. Funky fat. It didn't help that, despite being able to see char on the patty, it didn't translate texturally. The patty was mostly mushy. The toppings weren't as evenly distributed as they could've been, à la In-N-Out or Lucky's.

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I liked the fresh cut french fries ($2.60), which were mostly crispy and well salted. I would've liked them even more if they were crispier.

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The vanilla milkshake ($4.89) was fine—not too thick or thin, sweet, full of vanilla—but 24 ounces in one cup is definitely too much for one person, and too much for even two people. Fresh-N-Fast isn't the only place with bucket-sized shakes—I had this problem at Lucky's too—but I don't understand why these places offer such gargantuan-sized shakes that no single human can finish, unless that's actually what most people want. Maybe it is.

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I tried the grilled cheese ($3.29) just out of curiosity (it's on In-N-Out's "secret" menu). Too much bun, not enough cheese. At least there were a few slices of tomato in it. I figure the grilled cheese is just for vegetarians, but if you're vegetarian you should just eat somewhere else.

Of course, since Fresh-N-Fast just opened, I figure they'll improve with time. It's better than chain fast food restaurants, but it's not a replacement for In-N-Out. For now, if I'm going to be paying Shake Shack prices (even if Shake Shack's shake provides less shake-per-dollar; their shakes are awesome), I'd rather go the extra avenue to Shake Shack.

Random note: Their receipt says their website is at freshandfast.com, but it's not working yet.

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