Venue Review: Smashburger
The Charlotte Observer
When I decide to eat a burger out, it's with the knowledge that I'm probably going to leave feeling like I ate half the cow instead of a 4-ounce patty. But I can happily say I wasn't ready to bust when I left Smashburger.
I got my burger fix from the small barbecue, bacon and cheddar Smashburger, and thanks to the veggie frites as my side, I even felt my meal was a smidge healthy.
Located in Stonecrest shopping center off Rea Road, Smashburger is a quick-casual establishment - you order at the counter and wait for the food at your table. (Ours arrived in under 10 minutes.) With rock and Top 40 music thumping away in the dining room, Smashburger is definitely a lively place.
What I'll remember most about my dine-in experience, though, are Smashburger's booths. They reminded me of memory-foam mattresses the way I sank down into them. Of course, the booths' padding could be so good because it's still new; Smashburger opened in early June.
The never-frozen burgers are cooked to order and come in three sizes: the small smash (quarter-pound), the smash (one-third pound) and the big smash (one-half pound). You can create your own burger, selecting the bun, toppings, sauces and cheese, or go for one of the signature burgers.
I gave the small smash barbecue, bacon and cheddar burger a try and found the patty-to-toasted-egg-bun ratio was spot on. There was a lot to like about the generous slice of applewood smoked bacon and fried haystack onions piled on top of the burger.
Alas, the kitchen should have taken 30 seconds longer to prepare the order, because it forgot the barbecue sauce.
The smashfries are lovely shoestring fries tossed with rosemary, garlic and olive oil, a nice updating of the typical fry. But if you want a complete departure from the potato, opt for the veggie frites.
Asparagus spears, fry-cut carrot sticks and green beans are flash-fried and lavished with quite a bit of salt and black pepper. Ranch dressing comes on the side, and it helps tame the salt. Yes, I know eating these vegetables fried reduces their good qualities, but still I felt like I wasn't being as naughty as I could have been.
I felt completely naughty drinking the Nutterbutter milkshake. Loved, loved, loved that Smashburger uses wide straws so that my cheeks didn't cave as I drank the shake. The idea of a Nutterbutter shake sounded good, but the flavor wasn't as assertive as I would have liked.
Until I encountered a piece of cookie, it was like drinking an overly sweet vanilla shake.
I can never accuse the Baja chicken sandwich of nonassertive flavors. It was one layer of spice after the next. Joining a sizeable piece of grilled chicken (sandwiches only come in one size) were pepper jack cheese, spicy chipotle mayo, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and red onion. All of these were held inside a chipotle bun. My mouth was on fire from the first bite, but if spice is your thing, give this sandwich a go.
In a Charlotte burger scene that was already crowded before Smashburger arrived, I think this newbie restaurant can carve a niche for itself.
7804 Rea Road.
HOURS: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
CREDIT: All major.
PRICES: $1.99 (smashfries); $6.99 (Spicy Baja chicken sandwich or burger).
Tale of the Tape
Small smash barbecue, bacon & cheddar burger: $4.99
Veggie frites: $2.99
Spicy Baja chicken sandwich: $6.99
Nutterbutter milkshake: $3.99