The first time I heard of Smashburger was about 3 years ago when I was down in Denver for work. I was looking for somewhere to eat for dinner and came across a Smashburger relatively close to the hotel that I was staying at. I am usually game for a good burger and the concept sounded intriguing. The timing never quite worked out to visit, but Smashburger was on my radar.
Fast forward a couple of years to last summer when I was in Calgary for holidays. I had heard that Smashburger was in Calgary and thought it would be fun to try. I remember the food was ok, I wasn’t super impressed, but I think that mostly had to do with the burger I chose. It really could have been a whole combination of different factors, but I wasn’t overly thrilled.
Jump forward another year, to a week or so ago, when I got an invitation to attend the VIP Preview Party of the Smashburger in Sherwood Park. Now, although I hadn’t been thrilled with my experience in Calgary, I wasn’t going to write off Smashburger altogether. In fact, I was really looking forward to going again, but this time, I was going to be making some better burger decisions! As you can see, I was very serious about my burger decision… that and I was working on my smash. 🙂
So, Tuesday night I made my way to the new location on the north side of Sherwood Park in a development I didn’t even know existed. I was allowed to bring a few guests along, so my friends, Irene and Sayyad, joined me for a burger. We arrived at about 6:15 and were warmly greeted at the door and the Smashburger concept was explained to us. What makes a smashburger special is that the burger is made from a ball of fresh, never frozen, 100% premium beef. The beef is then smashed into a hot buttered grill to sear the outside and seal in the juiciness.
After we grabbed a table, we perused the menu and then made our way up to the counter to order. One of the interesting things about the menu is that each location’s menu is specially designed to reflect the tastes and flavours of the city. In Edmonton, there is an Edmonton burger with “Canadian” seasoned grilled onions, cheddar cheese, BBQ Sauce, and a fried egg on a Kaiser roll. As well, there is poutine and a Saskatoon Berry milkshake.
After we each ordered our burgers and a variety of sides to split, we sat down and waited for our food to come out. I chose the BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar chicken burger, which is a chicken breast with BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and haystack onions on an egg bun. I ordered mine without cheese and I added on tomato and lettuce. I thought the chicken breast was nice and moist and I really loved the combination of the onion straws, BBQ sauce and bacon. The added tomato and lettuce also gave the burger some necessary freshness.
Irene was considering a couple of different burgers, including the special Edmonton burger and the Truffle Mushroom Swiss burger, but settled on the healthier sounding Avocado Club chicken burger. This burger is a chicken breast topped with fresh avocado, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing and mayo on a multi-grain bun. Although she said the really enjoyed the burger, she also found it tasted really healthy. Not that that is a bad thing, but I think maybe there could have been something else on that burger to make it a little more flavourful. Perhaps a different, more flavourful sauce?
Sayyad chose the Spicy Baja beef burger, which is a smashed beef patty topped with pepper jack cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy chipotle mayo and fresh jalapeños on a spicy chipotle bun. He said that the burger was cooked perfectly and really juicy. He mentioned that he quite liked the heat that the jalapeños gave the burger; they were hot, but not overpowering.
For sides, we shared some Smashfries, Haystack Onions, and Veggie Frites between the 3 of us.
Smashfries are shoestring fries tossed with olive oil, rosemary and garlic. We all enjoyed the seasoning on the Smashfries, it made them a little more interesting than the average fast food fry.
We also ordered some haystack onions, which were the same thinly shaved pieces of deep fried onions that showed up on my burger. The onions were served with a spicy dipping sauce. Although the onions were quite good, we all found them just a little too salty and I thought they also seemed a little greasy. I think they could have benefited from a little better dry off after the deep fryer.
Last, but not least, we had the Veggie Frites, which are flash fried carrot sticks and green beans. Sayyad and Irene really enjoyed this (relatively) healthier choice. But, I found the veggies just seemed a little greasy and soggy to me. For me, if I am going to be going out to eat a burger… then I want to complete the meal with something delicious and deep fried, like some fries or onion rings.
Smashburger also serves milkshakes made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream. I had been hoping to order a whole milkshake for myself because I thought nothing would beat the heat like a cold and creamy chocolate shake, but I wasn’t surprised to learn that they were doing samples instead. I think the milkshake machine would have broken down by the end of the night if we could have each ordered our own. I was able to try a sample of the Oreo, Strawberry and Saskatoon Berry milkshakes. I enjoyed the Strawberry and Oreo milkshakes equally, but found the Saskatoon Berry shake a little hard to drink. The Saskatoon berries kept getting stuck in my straw so I think perhaps if they had been mashed up more the drink would have worked a little better.
Overall we were all quite happy with our experience at Smashburger (and full disclosure, it was complimentary). The food was definitely a step up from fast food, but it was still quicker and more casual than a sit down restaurant. We thought the presentation of the food was quite nice, the restaurant was clean with lots of seating and the service was great. I really enjoyed everything I ordered; we all felt full, but not gross like you can sometime feel after eating hamburgers and fried food. Although I really enjoyed Smashburger, the location, unfortunately, isn’t that convenient for me. I don’t think I would drive half an hour out to Sherwood Park specifically for Smashburger, however if I was in the area and craving a burger, I would absolutely return!
Now, for the best part— you have the chance to win a $20 gift card to visit the new Smashburger in Sherwood Park!! All you have to do is leave a comment here saying what you would want to try at Smashburger. If you share this post on Twitter or Facebook you’ll also get an additional entry, just be sure to put another comment here letting me know you did so! Also, please be sure to use your e-mail address when commenting, so that I can contact the winner! And don’t worry, your e-mail address won’t be visibile.
I’ll be randomly selecting a winner Monday, July 8.