Two Palate Dining: Smashburger
She Said: Smashburger
Burgers are such a signature American dish. It’s really no surprise then that here in the nation’s capitol burgers are a very popular and very contested food. There are Five Guys fans and fans from a myriad of other places. Everyone argues about who makes great burgers and since we’ve yet to find a place that consistently makes a good burger without making us sick, we decided to try the new Smashburger in Fairfax.
The idea behind Smashburger is that the meat is frozen in meatball shapes then smashed and cooked. They say that it will yield a more moist burger (that I’ll concede) and in a shorter time. Perhaps the wait is meant to be shorter, but both times that we’ve been to Smashburger we’ve had to wait so long. I understand it’s a new restaurant and all, but the wait is pretty ridiculous sometimes. I don’t want to have to carve an hour out of my schedule to get a burger! That’s crazy!
The décor is what I think of as “typical, industrial, modern burger joint” style. Do you know what I mean? It’s not really old-fashioned although it does use red as nod to the burger joints of the past. There’s a lot of steel, computer screens and cold, white tile. It’s not a very cozy place too eat and it’s roaring loud. We opted to get our food takeout.
The staff that I’ve encountered seemed pleasant even if they were very busy. The last time we were in there I did notice that there was not as much hand washing going on as I felt that there should be. I understand that you have to pick things up off the floor sometimes, but you wash your hands when you are done. Why do I want a French fries basket that you handled after you picked up debris from the floor? It’s gross! They really need to watch that when employees pick or wipe things up that their hands are washed immediately. The customers are already waiting and frankly another minute more isn’t a big deal. I would much rather wait a few more seconds then have someone handle my food with trash on their hands!
The burgers are okay. I’m really picky about burgers because I don’t like hard edges. I’m very tough to please in the burger department. But, I wanted to try this place because I thought it sounded like a good concept. I was excited by all the options for toppings that were offered. Both times that we ate there I ordered the BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Smashburger. The burgers at first look as though they will be dry and hard, but I was always surprised that they weren’t. The egg buns are crisp and rich and give a nice balance to the meal. I thought the BBQ sauce was a little flat and too smoky. The bacon was too fatty and wasn’t discernible as a taste only an extra chewy texture. I have never had applewood smoked bacon that didn’t taste good. The cheddar was nice and was actually totally cooked- I hate raw cheese on a sandwich. I was so hungry that first night that I thought it was delicious while I was eating it. Later, I started to question the validity of thinking it tasted good. It didn’t really hold up well to the analysis so I decided to try it again on a night I was as hungry as a wild animal. This time my burger was so sloppily prepared that I had several bites at a time at different stretches throughout eating when my sandwich contained no sauce, cheese or bacon. It also made me super tummy ill, I’ll spare you those details.
I thought RJ’s Capital Burger was okay but that may have had to with the fact that it had arugula. Lately, I’m a big fan of arugula!
I love the sweet potato fries! They were crispy, not too sweet and totally yummy. The regular potato fries are pretty boring tasting but they do have a good texture. RJ also ordered the fries “smash style” which meant that they were coated with a blend of herbs that was really too sharp. I do like herb seasoned fries, but these didn’t taste Thanksgiving yummy the seasoning was too strong.
We were dealing with some of my medical problems until recently. While I love cooking (and I’m so glad to be back at it) it’s hard to cook all the time when you are ill. It seemed like the perfect time to try a new place! Well, the first time we went I was so hungry I could have eaten almost anything. I also have a big weakness for sweet potato fries. Even though the burgers weren’t that great they lured me in one more time because of the fries. The first time I ate the burgers and had an upset stomach I thought it was in reaction to my medicine or maybe to the fact that we don’t eat beef that often. But, now I’m convinced that they are poorly handled and I’m not to keen on their ingredients. I won’t be eating there again.
BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Smashburger- 2
Capital Smashburger- 2
French Fries (Regular)- 2
French Fries (Smash style)- 1
Sweet Potato Fries (Regular)- 9
He Said: Smashburger
I love hamburgers. It’s beef, it’s a sandwich, and it’s really easy to customize. There’s plenty of room for creativity, and easy to pare down to a classic. So when a new burger joint opened up on my way home from work, we had to try it. Smashburger is drawing huge lines right now in Fairfax, but is it worth the wait?
We ate there twice, a week apart. The first time Kari ordered the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger with sweet potato fries and I ordered the Capital Burger that is served at this location only, and their special smash fries. The second time Kari got the same thing, but I got the Classic with regular fries.
The first time went great. Kari’s burger was excellent. It’s the kind of burger that could really become my staple order somewhere. The barbeque was a smooth addition with a little bit of a kick at the end. The Cheddar cheese worked very well with the sauce, burger, and the bacon. The bacon is applewood smoked so it’s delicious. The egg bun was an interesting take on what you would normally expect. She opted to not have the haystack onions on it. I’m curious how theirs turn out. If the onions are as crispy and salty as they should be it would be the perfect addition. We’ve tried a few different sweet potato fries recently, and the fries at Smashburger really hold up to what we’ve had elsewhere.
My burger was definitely an adventure. This DC exclusive burger adds grilled onions, aged Swiss cheese, baby arugula, apple wood smoked bacon, tomatoes, and mayo on a brioche bun. I had them hold the tomatoes and mayo. It really was a great burger. I loved the bacon as I already discussed. The arugula was awesome. I’ve never been a big fan of lettuce on burgers, but the arugula had a deeper quality, and was a great addition. The grilled onions were grilled until they were soft and delicious. I hate raw onions, so I’m really happy they got that right. The cheese complimented everything else well. The brioche bun has a different taste and feels than the egg bun, and is a neat variable to add into the equation. The smash fries were really good, especially for what they cost. The rosemary really shines through here, but doesn’t overpower. The garlic adds a little bit of indefinable goodness.
On our next visit, I got the Classic. This consists of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, onion, pickles and smash sauce on an egg bun. I kept off the tomato and onion. I typically don’t like tomatoes on sandwiches if you haven’t noticed, and the onion is not only served raw on this hamburger, it’s also red onion, which I have very rarely found palatable. The biggest thing about this burger was the smash sauce. Smash sauce isn’t just thousand island dressing like a lot of other secret sauces. There’s something different going on here that I haven’t been able to figure out yet. It’s creamy. It’s tangy. It’s got a little bit of a bite to it. What is in that sauce? The fries weren’t as good un-smashed, but they were still good quality fries.
The big problem with our second trip didn’t happen until we were done with our meal. This is the reason why we will probably never go back. Kari felt like she was going to be ill a while after we ate the food. It upset my stomach some too. Not as much, but it was still there. This really put a damper on our evening, and I’d be hard pressed to go back there with it doing that to our stomachs.
BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger-8
Regular Sweet Potato Fries- 8
Overall- 3 (due to the after effects)