Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shakes (closed)

As far as weeks go, it definitely could’ve been a more productive one where all things blog related are concerned. First of all, it turns out my beloved laptop (we shall call her Kerrigan) must remain I the shop for another short while. Then if that weren’t annoying enough, any spare laptops that were at my disposal have closed up and gone packing down to Kerry for the weekend! In a way I’m glad to see them go since all of them were slower than a roast cooking in Heston Blumenthal’s oven, but on the flip side it left me with no option but to resort to the iPhone or house PC to write this up on. I can barely manage ten words with that little touch qwerty keypad, so in very un-dramatic fashion and for the first time ever, I present to you a Consumed blog entry composed entirely on a near decade old family computer!

Apt (or ironic?) then that this entry via what’s quite possibly Dublin’s oldest PC be concerned with the very newest chapter in its rich foodish tapestry. That’s right, today we’re gonna look at Dame street’s latest institution for food lovers and students alike: Shakes milkshake bar.

Open for little under the two-month mark by now, Shakes has been selling itself on the basis that it is Dublin’s only dedicated milkshake bar. Often you hear a line like that and take it with a pinch of salt; a certain pastry café just up the road will, after all, lay claim to serve up the best carrot cake in the city. Carrot cake - and the scale thereof - is entirely subjective of course, but that doesn’t stop such a line from drawing in the customers to try said baked goods. In Shake’s case however, their hook of a claim is nothing but the truth! Eddie Rocket’s may have carried the milkshake torch in Dublin over the last few decades, but it was always about the burgers for them; shakes and malts were simply a small part of the bigger picture. The only frequent alternative has, up until recently, been MacDonald’s. The niche was there to be exploited like bagels, smoothies and gourmet burgers before it. Ultimately, a young man named Wassim Dakik arrived from London, grabbed the challenge by the straws and did exactly that.

Two things will probably strike you about Shakes once you happen upon it: 1) their incredible location, directly opposite Starbucks on the College Green and only a matter of metres from Trinity College itself, and 2) the queue that will more than likely be spilling out of the door and onto the street. These two naturally go hand in glove, and as such you will have to wait to finally get to the milkshake itself but the sheer popularity of it all after only a matter of weeks should be more than enough to assure you that it is definitely worth the wait. If not, I will!

Ordering works like this: in front of you is a counter; behind it banks and banks of chocolate bars, sweets, biscuits, cereals and almost every other delectable that you remember growing up with. Custard creams, bourbons, Skittles, chocolate digestives, Cadbury’s Crème Eggs; they’re all there and in ample supply! Above the counter and a small army of staff you’ll find the menu board. Take note of it, you’ll be staring at it for a while in either awe at realising what’s about to be done with your confectionary of choice, or inability to choose from the plethora of options. If and once you get around to selecting a base flavour, toppings and boosts can be added afterwards. Vegetarian? Shakes will serve you up a milkshake of organic soya milk and ice cream instead of the regular fare. I was slight disappointed that they didn’t offer a malt option, but I’m sure that this will be suggested to Wassim at some stage given that it only takes a spoonful or two of Horlicks powder.

Edit: after having gotten in touch with Wassim himself, it turns our that Shakes do indeed offer malt as an option, but it was left off the menu by mistake.

As for the base options in particular, most of them fall under ‘chocolate bar shakes’. Without going into a novelised list, there are fifty-seven different kinds covered with almost equal attention given to Cadbury’s, Nestle and Mars. You’ll even find some interesting particulars in there such as Reese’s Cups, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and even Hersheys (well, the European version that doesn’t have that terrible aftertaste!), as well as everything you’d expect from your local newsagent’s. A handful of household name sweets, biscuits and cereals all get a look in elsewhere, as does fruit for those of your who can’t quite tear yourselves away from smoothie addiction just yet. All of these will set you back a paltry three euro for a small sized serving, three-fifty for a large. Separate to the rest is a (slightly more expensive at four-fifty each) VIP milkshake menu, which features a list of more intricate house recipes. I tried two milkshakes altogether: the VIP chocoholic that included Fererro Rocher, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a flake to top it off with, and a plain chocolate digestive shake. Both tasted exactly the part, and were far lighter than I expected them to be!

The only downside to the overall experience is of course that moderation means you can’t try everything on the menu, and with the number of tantalising options screaming at you it’s hard not to regret choosing just one. Or two. Or three, and so on. Sometimes an abundance of choice can be counter productive in the catering industry, but in Shake’s case, the fundamental simplicity of those options only serves as a means to draw in repeat customers from the word go! They also offer a ten percent discount for students, which will only serve to keep them coming thicker and faster if the idea of drinking something ‘random’ (shudder!) didn’t already appeal.

In a nutshell, Shakes has gotten off to a roaring start and looks to be setting the benchmark for what could become the city centre’s latest craze. They offer a simple fare that appeals not only to the typical Dublin love of all things trendy, but also our inner children that want nothing more than to see our favourite chocolate and sweets mixed up into a creamy beverage. The queues continue to run out the door on the worst of days, so it wouldn’t be any surprise to see this little business venture of Wassim’s expand in the not too distant future.

15, College Green,
Dublin 2


  1. Will give it a try (if the queue isn't too long) next time I'm in Dublin.

  2. Shakes is always so busy isn't it! Glad you had a nice shake there :) Great post about it.
    I get the soya shake and it's delicious -hmm I might get one at the weekend now that you mention it....

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