Taste Test: A Frappe Face-Off at Griddler's and J.M. Curley's

In Taste Test, Chowder contributor Fiona Coxe samples buzzy dishes around town — and finds out whether they are worth the hype.


The coconut and strawberry concrete from J.M. Curley’s, left, was much thicker than the Apple Pie shake from Griddler’s (right). Photos by Fiona Coxe.

Opening during the winter hasn’t stopped two new restaurants, Griddler’s Burgers and Dogs in Beacon Hill and J.M. Curley’s in Downtown Crossing, from incorporating frappe-style desserts in to their menus — the former boasts milkshakes while the latter offers the milkshake’s thicker brother, the concrete. I decided to see how the two stacked up.

Griddler’s, housed in the former space of The Federal, offers the classic vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry shakes, but has also created some more decadent blends such as the Raspberry Cheesecake (with actual slices of cheesecake blended into vanilla ice cream) and the Frosted Flake (which blends Frosted Flake-infused milk with even more Frosted Flakes and vanilla ice cream) . I decided to try the Apple Pie version, which combined hunks of apple pie with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon and sugar, and oat strudel. The resulting shake was quite thick , packed with the flavors of apple pie. Each sip introduced flavors of cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg, and fruity apple. A chewy oat cluster made it up my straw from time to time, which added a great texture and crunch. The consistency overall was pleasing — it was thick, to be sure, but passed through the accompanying straw. Griddler’s shakes are served in to-go cups, which makes them convenient for those who want to bring a treat back to the office after lunch — and work off a few shake calories on the steep terrain of Beacon Hill.

If you’re familiar with the iconic concretes of NY-based burger chain Shake Shack, then you’ll recognize the versions available at J.M. Curley’s; for the uninitiated, this means a much thicker blend of six scoops of vanilla ice cream, with your choice of additions. Options include everything from traditional frozen fruit and cookie dough to more creative options like cinnamon chips and bacon. I opted for a tropical blend of strawberries and coconut, which was blended and served in a fountain-style metal frappe glass. The ice cream and add-ins had been well-mixed, with even distribution of both coconut and strawberries. The strawberries were frozen solid, and their sweet tart flavor added a delicious burst of flavor. A spoon was required to enjoy this blend, making it more similar to a bowl of ice cream than a shake.

Though I enjoyed the free-form style of J.M. Curley’s concretes (and would love to try bacon in my ice cream!), I appreciated the drinkability of the shakes and pre-made combinations at Griddlers. So in this Taste Test, the Beacon Hill newbie gets the win.

(Griddler’s Burgers & Dogs, 204 Cambridge St, Boston. Info: griddlersburgers.com.)

(JM Curley’s; 21 Temple Place, Boston. Info: jmcurleyboston.com.)