This week's burger is from Smashburger. Smashburger is a smallish national franchise with locations in 12 states and plans for locations in 5 more. They claim to focus on high-quality ingredients and have different menus for different regions (which, as far as I can tell, amounts to one region-specific burger and perhaps a different hot dog and/or salad variety). There are a few locations in the Twin Cities; the one closest to me is in Golden Valley. Their big claim to fame is what also gives them their name -- they smash the meat down onto the griddle while it's cooking. Normally I'm not a huge fan of this because it squeezes out the juices. However, I can see that if it's done at the very beginning of the cooking process, you'll have minimum fluid loss (because the fat is still solid), you'll have a little extra seared surface area, and the meat will cook more quickly since it's flatter. That's the theory, as far as I can tell anyway. Does it work?
Smashburger offers burgers in both 1/3- and 1/2-lb varieties, both made with 100% Angus beef. I've previously noted that I think 1/3-lb is the ideal burger size for me, so that's what I went with. I opted to build my own rather than go with one of their pre-optioned burgers, and ordered mine adorned with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, tomato, leaf lettuce, ketchup, and mayo on their standard egg bun for $4.99. I also ordered a side of their rosemary, garlic, and olive-oil-seasoned Smashfries and a fountain soda for a total of $8.47 (plus tax). They told me the burger would be delivered to my table in 6 minutes -- precise. I like that.
I didn't actually time it, but it definitely didn't take longer than 6 minutes. When the burger came out, I noticed that they had accidentally substituted red onion for my tomato slice. No biggie, since the tomato probably wouldn't have been that flavorful anyway at this time of year. I noticed that they put the grilled onions underneath the melted cheese slice -- this way, the cheese serves to hold the notoriously slippery grilled onions in place.
The cross-section view revealed a flat (as expected) patty that was cooked well-done (also as expected). Not particulary abundant in juice. I was a little concerned that the smashing process would result in a burger that was going to fall apart on me but that didn't turn out to be the case. The bun was thick and matched the diameter of the meat perfectly.
On the flavor front, this burger is actually pretty good. The seasoning they use in the meat adds nice flavor, although I would say it's probably a little oversalted for my taste. The meat was a little on the dry side but not incredibly so, and the acoutrements and condiments kept the burger from being dry overall. The bun was light and toasted with butter, and it had a nice sweetness that balanced well with the meat. The biggest issue with this burger is the thickness of the patty, or, rather, the lack thereof. Basically, the thin patty screws up the meat-to-everything-else ratio in each bite, especially given that the bun was so thick. It's possible that the 1/2-lb version has a better ratio here, if they keep the diameter constant so only the thickness increases.
Overall, though, this is a pretty good cheeseburger. If I'm in the mood for a $5 cheeseburger and don't mind driving 10 minutes, or if I'm out on 394 anyway, I'll definitely keep this burger under consideration.
(plus other metro locations)
Until next time...happy cheeseburger.