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Jun 9, 2011 01:52 PM

Smashburger first day report

So, a lot of people have been pretty hyped about Smashburger opening up in NYC. The short story: Angus burgers, never frozen, made with some kind of "smashing" technique on the griddle, blah blah blah.

Luckily, the first NYC location openednear my workplace. They put out word they were opening tomorrow, but go figure, there they were ready for business today. And word spread quickly - I took a look at 11:00, it was pretty empty, but too early for me to have lunch. I came back at 1:00 and there were 50 people in line.

So - after deciding to put off lunch for a couple hours - I ventured back to find a more manageable scene. You can get the burgers in two different sizes - 1/3 or 1/2 lb. Then you pick toppings, bun, etc - more customizable than most burger joints, which was nice. Then there are a few pre-composed theme burgers, and I guess one of the gimmicks is that every city they're in gets their own. In Vegas, the "Sin City Burger" was highly thought of - topped with bacon, American cheese, two kinds of onions (grilled & haystack), Smash Sauce, AND a fried egg. Kind of puts KFC's "Double Down" to shame.

I figured I gotta represent Brooklyn the first time in, so I went with our local special - "The Brooklyn Smash" - a less heart-attack inducing combo (if only for the lack of the egg) with grilled pastrami, Swiss cheese, pickles, raw purple onion, and yellow mustard, on a Pretzel Bun. And a side of fries, of course - I went with the "Smashfries" which come tossed in olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Other fry options were shoestrings and sweet potato. And for further cholestoral heads, there are fried pickles (chip-style, so there's a better fried-to-pickle ratio than with spears. And there are veggies, too, if you like. Also fried.

But the most important thing... how was it? Solid. Nothing earth-shattering, but one of the better fast food burgers I've had. It didn't cause an involuntary delirious smile, the way my first bite of a Shake Shack burger did, but it did the trick. The pastrami actually tasted like pastrami - it wasn't Katz's or anything, but it had a nice of pepper to it - and meshed well with the burger, occasionally overpowering it. Tasting the burger on it's own, it was pleasantly beefy though perhaps a touch salty. The Swiss seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle, though - there was the texture of cheese but no real flavor coming through. The Pretzel Bun tasted vaguely of soft pretzel, and sopped up the juices fairly well - the bottom half got a bit soaked, but still held a decent chew. I'd give the Brooklyn Smash a B+, I think. More assertive cheese, a little less salt and I might even move it up a notch. It was good enough that I'll be back to try some other burgers - maybe sans the pastrami, which was good, but probably not necessary.

The fries were more of a mixed bag. Texturally, they were spot-on for fast food fries. Nice crispy exterior, fluffy inside. The flavor, though, was a bit off in a way that's hard to explain. The rosemary was present, certainly, and that was nice, but the fry itself... was slightly redolent of - I want to say Romano cheese, weird as that sounds. And not, like, good fancy stuff that you'd get at DiPalo's, but like that pre-powdered "Romano" in little plastic tubs you get at local bodegas. If you've ever had it, you know the stuff I mean - it's kind of sweet, missing that Romano funk. Anyway, there was a hint of that to these. Crossed with the flavor of Herr's Potato Stix. Not UN-pleasant, but nothing I'd get excited about, either. Also of note: there was at least a teaspoon of oil welled up in the bottom of the carton when I finished them.

Verdict? I'll be back. Not every day (I'd rather put off the angioplasty a few years) but it'll be an occasional lunch stop - or since they serve beer, for after work. Though with Shake Shack set to open in the neighborhood as well... we'll see if that holds true long-term.

80 DeKalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201

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  1. Thanks for the report! I look forward to going.

    1. Yesssss!...What a refreshingly unpretentious review.
      Thanks so much for making it about the food...

      1. Nice clearheaded review! I'll give it a try...if it's priced right, all the better.

        Places like this like to hype their particular gimmick, and I have no problem with that. But n the end, it is after all just a hamburger...if the meat is fresh, adequately fatted for moistness and flavor, and not cooked to death, it can be a great thing. And pretty hard to screw up...surprising that so many places manage to do just that.

        Honestly the two hands down best hamburgers I had were unusual in that neither was all beef (one wasn't even all meat). One had a bit of pork in the mix (which is how I've routinely done them at home ever since) and the other was the "21" burger...beautifully seasoned and containing other ingredients (probably a panade and some egg). Some burger mavens slam that one because it isn't your typical beef puck and that's each his own... but for me, it took the hamburger to a new level. The beefiness doesn't get lost in the mix of other ingredients and is in fact enhanced by them. Not overdoing the added stuff is the real key.

        Anyway, sorry to sidetrack... I'll definitely give Smashburger a spin based on the review here.

        80 DeKalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201