Smashburger Opening!

>> Thursday, May 3, 2012

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend the soft opening of Smashburger the newest gourmet burger eatery in town (they officially opened yesterday May 2nd). It was great meeting the representatives who flew up from Denver specifically for the opening, especially the founder Tom Ryan who gave me a bit of the history of Smashburger and why it was named as such.

The name Smashburger came to be from the way the burgers are cooked. Each day the kitchen would prep fresh ground Angus beef (it’s never frozen to ensure that the quality of the meat doesn’t change) and roll them by hand to equal sized portions. When an order is placed, the ground Angus beef will then be put on the grill and smashed down with a specialized tool and held for 10 seconds. This allows the beef to form a caramelized layer, cooking the patty upwards instead of outwards, preventing the juices from leaking out of the beef. At the same time, the metal smasher (as I’m going to call it) sandwiches the meat between two heated surfaces cutting down cooking time by 5 mins. Since the patty doesn’t have to cook as long it doesn’t dry out and you end up with a better tasting burger.

When you walk in to the restaurant it’s a semi fast food, semi serviced style. Where you order first, pick a table and the food will be brought out to you and the tables are bussed and cleaned. The hardest part of the whole process is deciding on what to order, since there are so many options to mix and match. The menu is also based upon the location and since this is their first Canadian location, the menu is customized as such with a Calgary burger, a Saskatoon Berry Milkshake and Poutine as well!

We started with the Mushroom Swiss with garlic sautéed mushrooms, swiss cheese and mayo built on top of their signature patty and sandwiched between an egg bun. The first bite was really good, a nice proportion of cheese to mushrooms and patty to bun. However we all did find it a bit salty after several bites. I’m not sure if it was the meat or the mushrooms on top, but it could have used a bit less salt. Next up was the Spinach and Goat Cheese which we decided to change up and order as a burger instead of chicken. It was very fresh tasting especially with the added spinach, but I did find the goat cheese a bit much for me. So I left the rest for my fellow bloggers, who seemed to enjoy it.

As for sides, we got to try a bunch of different ones. Starting with the Smashfries, which are skinny cut fries tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic. It has good flavour and was nice and crispy. However we all enjoyed the Sweet Potato Smashfries even more, the sweetness of the sweet potato really brought out the rosemary. I also tried a couple of the Fried Pickles since they’re all the rage right now, but I found them a bit too salty for my liking. The poutine was okay, there is a choice between the Traditional Poutine and a Mushroom Poutine. We tried the traditional, not bad, but nothing too special either, maybe we should have opted for the mushroom version.

They were also walking around with milkshake samples and we got to try the Classic Vanilla Milkshake and the Saskatoon Berry Milkshake. All the shakes are made from the famous Mackay’s ice cream with unique flavours like Saskatoon Berry spotlighting Canada. I enjoyed the Vanilla the most, but I’m a sucker for anything vanilla.

It was also refreshing to hear that there are healthier options for those who are conscious about what they eat (there’s also vegetarian and gluten free options too). Although if you’re going to a burger restaurant, I do suggest trying one, everything in moderation! But if you’re under doctor’s orders to eat healthy, then I suggest the Grilled Chicken Menu. I got to try the Avocado Grilled Chicken Club and it was extremely flavourful. The chicken breast was moist and cooked well, not dry which can often happen when ordering a chicken burger. Having the avocado provided the perfect amount of creaminess. Overall a good burger substitute. They also offer Veggie Frites as a side, which are flash fried carrots and peas, a good alternative to your typical sides.

So why did an American chain decide to open in Calgary versus Vancouver and Toronto? Aside from having a strong local economy, it is also very similar to Denver’s. It’s a strategic move and a great starting point. When I asked Tom why he decided to go to the suburbs and away from the downtown core, where one would think a restaurant like this would thrive - catering to professionals – I was surprised with the answer he provided. They wanted to say close to where people lived and not just where they worked. Making it accessible to all and not those that are just downtown.

They’re planning to open 25 stores between Edmonton and Calgary over the next couple years and the second store is already being built in the NW as I write this! So if you don’t get a chance to go try a burger at their location now, don’t worry, they’re coming to you!

4 – 2770, 32 Avenue NE
Calgary, AB
(403) 250-3156

Smashburger on Urbanspoon


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