On June 12 at approximately 5:20 PM, I leave my grandmother’s Central Park West apartment and meet John at the corner of 86th and Broadway. Holding hands, we head down into the subway, which is packed with rush-hour commuters, and make our way downtown.
We are headed to try out a restaurant we had just discovered called Black Tap Burger and Crafts. This hole-in-the-wall burger joint—with an entrance so small it takes several minutes to find— is located in the Meat Packing District and is best known for its obnoxiously large and elaborately decorated milkshakes. Featured on multiple NYC Instagram accounts and highly regarded by my 14-year-old cousin who lives exclusively off of carbs and dessert, this restaurant seems like the perfect place to start.
Unfortunately, when John and I arrive downtown, we are met with a long line. In fact, there is a line for the line—literally a line next to the restaurant before you get to the actual line in front of the restaurant. Luckily, my aforementioned dessert-obsessed cousin, Julia, joins us and we spend most of the wait asking her questions about how “ratchet” her high school is. Did you know that 14-year-old boys still play 20 questions? Fascinating stuff.
In addition to listening to Julia’s tales of the testosterone-driven terrors that are high-school aged boys, we also partake in some people-watching. The line contains an odd mix of patrons, ranging from families of four looking for a place to entertain their whining kids to groups of 30-somethings trying to finish their 9 to 5 shifts on a good note.
When we finally enter the venue, I almost forget how tiny the place seems from the outside. Once you walk in, the restaurant stretches further back, boasting of roughly the same amount of space as a local pub. Like the heart-shaped piece of paper I handed John earlier that day containing a wad of used gum, the exterior of Black Tap completely deceives its interior.
As the waitress guides the three of us past the front desk and towards the back of the spacious eatery, I feel like I am walking into a strip club. The lights are dimmed low, and all of the seats are either high booths or bar stools. Peoples’ names and phone numbers are carved into the booths too, just like in a strip club. I start to wonder if we’re in the right place, and that’s when I see them: sleek, thick, and sexy. The milkshakes, just like the sculpted bodies of Magic Mike and his crew, are mesmerizing. I do a double take. Was that an entire Chipwich on top of one milkshake? And an entire bag of cotton candy embellishing another? This can’t be real life.
It is real life, however, because a few minutes later we give our orders to a heavily tattooed waitress with pink hair. John suggests we get burgers IN ADDITION to the gigantic milkshakes (a decision we will later regret), so we all get cheeseburgers and fries to start.
The burger is good, but not amazing. It’s definitely satisfying though, and Julia and I begin to question how we are going to have room to fit several thousand calories worth of shaken milk into our bodies. John, however, remains unfazed, convinced that he can easily finish the shake before either of us.
When it comes time to order the shakes, it’s hard to choose. The options are Cotton Candy, Sour Patch, Reese’s, and Cookie Dough, which all sound delicious. More flavors were listed on the website, like Red Velvet and Candy Apple, but to my dismay, they only offer the four "standard" shakes today. “False advertising,” I point out, wrinkling my eyebrows. But I guess the waitress didn’t hear me.
Ultimately, we decide to go against the unspoken rule that everyone orders something different (so we can try all the flavors), and we all order the same thing: Cookie Dough. I debate between Reese’s and Cookie Dough for a while, but I ultimately decide the peanut butter might be overpowering and stick with the cookies. I briefly consider Sour Patch and Cotton Candy, but by the looks of all of the unfinished milkshakes of those flavors sitting around the restaurant, I don’t want to risk it. Plus, it doesn’t sound like a great idea to mix milk with something sour…
A little too soon afterward, three enormous milkshakes make their way to our table. The glass cups are covered in what seems to be cookie crumbles, and the shake itself is topped with a full-sized Chipwich sandwich, a chocolate chip cookie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a mountain of whipped cream.
Each person goes in for a different plan of attack. Julia grabs the cookie first. John goes for the shake. And I tackle the Chipwich. To my surprise, the Chipwich tastes better than any ice cream sandwich I have ever had before—it must have been homemade. The milkshake itself is equally rich and delicious, the perfect blend of vanilla and chocolate syrup. My favorite part, however, is the cookie crumble on the rim of the cup. Upon licking it, I realize the cookie crumbles are actually held in place on the cup by VANILLA FROSTING—and if you didn’t know this already, take note: vanilla frosting and cookies are the world’s best dessert combination.
Sadly, my euphoria quickly comes to an end, as the feelings of pleasure begin to turn to pain. After devouring the Chipwich, ice cream scoop, and half the shake, I become too full to finish and surrender, defeated by the tempting toppings. Julia follows suit shortly afterward, and then John, who finishes nearly the entire cup.
John, however, may not have been the real winner of our first food adventure. While Julia and I laugh and converse on the train ride home, John slowly falls into a food coma, sprawling out on the subway seat and losing consciousness. As he rests his head on my shoulder and curls up against me, I secretly smirk in triumph.
Our experience at Black Tap, while exhilarating, was unforgiving, not only on our stomachs and overall cardiac health, but also on our wallets. It cost roughly $120 for the three of us, and being the awesome older-cousin I am, I wouldn’t let Julia pay. It would just have to be Ramen for the next few days…