By: Annette Batson; Baristanet Food
Not all burgers are created equal, but why smash a burger?
I found out at Montclair’s newest burger joint last weekend when I spoke with their corporate chef. “The French sear steak on a hot grill in a pat of butter, and flip it once. The less you handle the meat, the better. That’s how we cook a smashburger.” The smashing part, he told me, sears it better. Back in the kitchen I watched as line cooks smashed big balls of ground beef onto a hot buttered grill. No pre-pressed hockey pucks at Smashburger. They use a metal press which resembles large cookie cutter to flatten the meatball and start the sizzle.
I found out about their cooking tricks after my family and I devoured juicy burgers, sides, shakes and sodas. These are some of the tastiest burgers and fries around, unanimously approved by the Batson Burger Board. I can honestly say my “New Jersey” burger tasted homemade: a half pound smashburger, loaded up with thick slices of applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese, grilled onions, french fried “haystack” onions, lettuce and tomato on an onion bun…A decidedly decadent delight.
About the menu: choose from six specialty burgers, including a customized, build your own option, a smashchicken paillard, and smash dogs. Fries freaks are in for a treat: the smashfries, cooked crispy pommes frites-style, and sweet potato fries – sprinkled with olive oil and rosemary – are both winners. We also gave the “veggie frites” and fried pickles at taste. Who knew asparagus, green beans and carrot sticks flash fried would taste so good? I ate them almost guilt-free. The fried pickles on the other hand, were overly salty, and after two, I’d had enough.
Smashburger bridges the gap between fast food and casual dining. Order at the counter, then you’ll be served at your table or a cozy booth. Meals are served in paper lined minimalist steel baskets.
A half pound burger, side of regular or sweet potato fries, and soda fountain drink is about $11. You’ll get a grilled dog, side of fries, and root beer float or shake for $10. Kids meals, including fries and drink $3.99
Milk shakes, $3.99, are made with Haagen-Dazs – blueberry, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla. Stewart’s bottled sodas in retro flavors: root beer, orange ‘n cream, cream soda, black cherry, $2.29.
Franchise owner Scott Gillman told us this time last year, there were four Smashburgers in Colorado; the Montclair store is #43. It’s the first of 30 Smashburgers he’s planning to open in New Jersey. The next time someone suggests we get smashed, I may just say O.K., no hangover required.
Smashburger, 15 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair (next to Panera). Open daily, 10-10. For store openings and specials, follow them on twitter.com/smashburgernnj.