Anyone who knows me will be aware that I have had a bit of an issue with a certain food craze that, I feel, has got a little bit out of hand.
The hamburger or beef burger, call it what you will, has been escalated in recent years to a level that is far beyond its deserved position in the culinary pecking order.
The hamburger is a convenience food that grew in popularity in the United States in the early 20th century and has spread worldwide thanks to the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King. Barring the fact that these large chains are committing a food atrocity I do not take issue with them per se; in my youth I was a regular visitor to BK and consumed more bacon double cheeseburgers than I care to remember.
I do take issue with the current situation whereby a single burger can cost around £10, without any sides, for something that is supposed to be cheap and cheerful. A burger should not cost anywhere near that, even if it has got quality ingredients in it. On that note, top-quality ingredients should not be put in a burger, use them to make something proper; burgers are meant to be dirty, it is part of their charm.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a burger as much as the next person and I still eat them on a fairly regular basis. I think people have got a bit overexcited about them and everyone just needs to calm down a bit; I blame social media, and Adam Richman.
So, without further ado, it is time to get on with this week’s review.
Smashburger is the latest US-based chain to hit the UK. The business has been franchised from the Denver original and Brighton is the second to open its doors in the UK; there are around 370 in the States. Co-founder Tom Ryan used to be heavily involved at McDonald’s, so he knows his market and as a result what not to do.
I’d heard some good things about the Brighton branch from people who had attended the opening. Smashburger pride themselves on using 100 per cent British beef that is cooked on a buttered grill using a traditional ‘smash’ technique. This is meant to sear the flavour into the meat resulting in a better burger. Everything is cooked from fresh and they never use frozen meat.
Before visiting I could not get the image of the original Batman TV series out of my head and was secretly hoping that a comic book-style ‘smash’ would assault me as I entered; sadly, this was not to be the case. Instead, I walked into what appeared to be a standard fast food restaurant, albeit with a bit more exposed brick and less plastic seating.
The menu reads like a modern burger style with a variety of different burgers on offer. I was pleased to see the overt use of the word ‘smash’ at every opportunity, if only to further my mental comic book image. POW!
I opt for their UK special burger, they do one for each area they open in, which includes stilton and bacon. My friend goes for their spicy offering which we are told is great for those who like things on the hotter end of the scale. KA-BAAAM!
We also get a side each of Smash fries, both sweet and standard potato, which are flavoured with rosemary and olive oil and a side of deep-fried pickles. Because I am a massive child I also get an Oreo cookie milkshake and my friend has a beer because he is a grown-up.
The food is quick, this is a fast food joint after all, and upon inspection they look like burgers which is a good start. Optional condiments on the table, including salt and pepper, are a nice touch.
The burgers are pretty good and reminiscent of my youthful BK dalliances, although with a bit more flavour and less grease to be fair. There is a discernible beefy flavour from the meat which has not dried out and I can taste the Stilton and bacon. The spicy option could be much hotter, but I suppose that’s down to personal taste and you could always add more hot sauce.
The fries are decent, although the oil has made them a little soggy. I would probably go for the standard next time. Deep-fried pickles are great if you’re into that sort of thing, and awful if you’re not. The shake is spot on; Häagen-Dazs ice cream is pretty creamy so it was always going to be a winner. BOOM!
Smashburger is a decent fast food restaurant that puts out burgers quickly that taste like they should. When it comes to price they are towards the higher end of reasonable with a burger and fries touching the £10 mark. What I do like is that they know what they are, and as burgers go it does the job pretty well. SMASH!
53 – 54 North Street, Brighton