There’s a smashing new burger joint in North Raleigh. I’m speaking of its fashion sense. Instead, smashing literally
is how they make the burgers at Smashburger
Smashburger takes a round portion of Angus beef and then, wham!
, smashes it into a patty. The restaurant says this helps seal in the juices so that the burger is more flavorful. They may be on to something.
Local media and food bloggers stopped by the new Raleigh loca tion earlier this week to sample the menu
. (Some of you may be familiar with it already. There's a Durham location on Erwin Road.)
If you like things simple, order the “Classic Smash,” a burger with the standard accoutrements of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion. But, if you do, you’ll miss part of what distinguishes Smashburger from the crowd—a wide array of topping combinations, some of which you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
A personal favorite was the “regional burger”—each restaurant features a burger inspired by the geographic area it calls home. In the Triangle, we get a Carolina Chili Burger. It comes loaded with beefy chili, American cheese, chopped yellow onion, Duke's mayonnaise and some of the creamiest coleslaw you’ll ever come across. Messy but worth the effort, it gets five stars and about twice as many napkins.
The Truffle Mushroom Swiss Burger was a winner as well. As the name implies, the meat comes dressed in Swiss cheese, sautéed crimini mushrooms and truffle mayo. The truffle mayo provides a flavorful kick. (Truffle mayo, Duke's, they definitely know their way around the mayonnaise aisle.)
If you prefer something a bit lighter, the Spinach, Cucumber and Goat Cheese Chicken sandwich packs a taste of summer on a multi-grain bun. At least, it conjured images of summer in my mind when I tried it. Tomato, onion and balsamic vinaigrette join the title’s ingredients to create a harmony of flavors that—and I never thought I'd say this about a sandwich—felt refreshing.
Not everything impressed. The Avocado Ranch Black Bean Burger is an alternative for vegetarians who somehow find themselves in a burger joint, but it seemed bland. It also had texture issues, as so many faux burgers do.
Also, the Buffalo and Blue Cheese Crispy Chicken sandwich fell just short of its potential. More cheesy than spicy, it needed to dial down the blue cheese, which overwhelmed the other flavors, and crank up the amount of Frank’s RedHot used.
A multitude of sides are available. The Sweet Potato Fries were nicely prepared, full of fla vor and firm to the bite. And, according to fellow diners, the Fried Pickles had just the right amount of batter (that’s a delicacy I don’t indulge in). Haystack Onions were promising but a tad too greasy. Other options include Smashfries (tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic), regular French fries, spicy Buffalo fries, "veggie frites" and a garden salad. Speaking of salads, there are four nice-sized varieties that can easily suffice as a meal (with leftovers, most likely).
Everyone left happy after samples of the hand-spun shakes made the rounds. Smashburger uses Häagen-Dazs ice cream in its shakes. That’s an ingredient choice enthusiastically supported based on the symphony of slurping sounds as straws reached the bottom of surrounding cups. OK, maybe
there was slurping at the bottom of my cup too. The Oreo shake was delicious, loaded with chunks of cookie suspended in the rich vanill a ice cream. Even better was the Salted Caramel shake, which delivers a sweet-but-not-too-sweet result.
If shakes aren’t your thing, beer and wine will be available soon. It’s just a matter of the proper permits arriving.
Competing in the “better burger” restaurant niche with places such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Smashburger must be doing something right. Founded in 2007 it had the fastest three-year start for a restaurant company in history, according to the Denver Business Journal
(the company is based in Colorado). By last year Smashburger had opened more than 200 locations scattered throughout five countries. In addition to the new Raleigh location and the one that opened in Durham last year, North Carolina also boasts two Smashburgers in the Charlotte area.
Smashburger, 6679 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh (in the Falls Village shopping center). 919-870-9230. Hours: 10 a.m.–10 p.m., daily. Special “grand opening” activities Wednesday, Dec. 17 begin at 11 a.m. (They’re hoping to have a snow-making machine on the back patio, if all goes well.)