Editor’s note: During these fleeting days of summer, it’s prime ice cream season. We have been celebrating locally made versions of late–like Joe and Liza’s, featured in our Low Summer issue, whose coffee ice cream sandwich we have found to be nearly as effective an afternoon pick-me-up as a shot of espresso. And we have a story in our fall issue on the North Fork ice cream institution known as the Magic Fountain. But if you’re strolling Sag Harbor’s Main Street, consider the shakes at LT Burger.
On a milkshake fantasy afternoon at LT Burger it quickly became clear why these shakes are the buzz of Sag Harbor, particularly among the younger set, fresh from Little League, after-school clubs or a slice at Conca D’Oro.
First came a pretty traditional vanilla shake, along with chocolate and strawberry, kid favorites. Then the flavor fireworks started as another 10 shakes arrived one by one. The American Puff appeared topped with whipped cream studded with cocoa puffs– beneath a thick blend of Haagen Dazs vanilla, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and cocoa puffs. Doubt turned to admiration. It was delicious, salty and addictive. “Very adult, very sophisticated,” said co-taster Jessica, a chef. Crazy Nut posed almond gelato against hazelnut ice cream echoed by the hazelnut spread Nutella. “Very grown up,” sighed co-taster Sally.
The name Choco-Espresso barely hints at its depth of ingredients: Valhrona chocolate, chocolate ice cream, ground espresso beans, a dusting of cocoa on the chocolate whipped cream. You suck bits of chocolate up the fat straw. Strawberry ice cream blended with fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, delicious. Gone Bananas: dulce de leche ice cream and bananas is accented by a swirl of caramel. Most shakes are based on Haagen Dazs ice cream and a soft-serve base, but Andrew Buffalino, chef of Sag Harbor’s LT Burger has added variations– one a key lime pie shake. It works. A healthy shake includes frozen yogurt, powered pomegranate, wheat germ, blueberries.
“You get kids ordering shakes before anything comes to the table,” said Buffalino, startled when it first happened. “It’s not a dessert. It’s the start of their meal. Parents are cool with it. It’s their vacation.”
Sag Harbor’s LT Burger is co-owned by Amagansett wine merchant Michael Cinque and Chef Laurent Tourondel, who owns other LT operations and with a partner built the $80-million BLT empire before the two split. Tourondel created many of the shakes on the menu including the most popular among children the Cookies and Cream. It tastes like an Oreo. Eighty percent of shakes are ordered by children, though R-rated shakes with alcohol are there for adults. There is currently no beer float on the menu although there are rumors of a launch.
“At closing time someone is always dashing up with kids and banging on the door, and it’s always for an Oreo shake,” says Buffalino.