Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Smashburger Food Review

Create Your Own Burger with Smashfries
One day removed from a sterling media preview, I ventured inside Dupont Circle's Smashburger with lofty expectations. Most were met, some even exceeded and (just to be thorough) I have a couple of suggestions to perhaps make it even better.

Opening days are usually nothing short of chaotic, so I made sure to stop by a little after 4:00 in the afternoon. It was still busy, but I was able to get in, out and satisfied in less than 15 minutes. Once inside, I couldn't help but notice the party vibe throughout the entire restaurant. If anything, it was a little too loud; as I had to repeat myself a few times while placing an order for a Create Your Own Burger ($6.29 +$2 for premium toppings) with Smashfries ($2.29) and a 22 oz. fountain drink ($1.99.) Thankfully, the cashier was able to match my newly found enthusiasm: She couldn't have been nicer. One other bonus: One of the managers recognized me from the day before, and said, "Welcome back."

I took a seat (more on that later) and didn't have long to wait for my food to be delivered (you get a numbered ticket that stands on its own.) First impressions, my metal basket/tray looked gorgeous. You want to dive right in! Think twice however, before ordering a BIG burger versus a REGULAR: BIG means wider, not taller... This means plenty of beef sticking outside the bun (not ideal.) Luckily, the burger itself is delicious. I sometimes eat as many as five burgers in a week; and Smashburger is one of the rare few that has a taste all its own. My fried egg was a bit overcooked, so I missed out on the runny egg I enjoy so much; but I was thankful to avoid any added mess. Thank goodness for napkin trays at every table... You're gonna need 'em.

Speaking of napkins, keep them handy for Smashburger's out-of-this-world Smashfries. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a crispier fry: They were absolutely delicious. All that crispiness comes with a price though... watch out for extra grease, hence the aforementioned napkins. P.S. Hardly any herbs on this batch: They should catch that at the pass. The few herbs I did have, were amazingly good. Two days in a row, and I can safely declare, "The food at Smashburger is terrific."

I'm not in love with the design of the place. I understand it's under tremendous space constraints; but it can get awfully cramped if you don't find an aisle seat. Worse yet, most of the seats stools are drilled into the floor, making it difficult to fit/sit comfortably. You can move the table, but that means squashing the person across from you. Also, a shoehorn-shaped seating area towards the front is downright odd... especially when it's blocked by a person standing up for whatever reason. That said, helpful employees are always nearby to clear your trash and make sure you're doing OK. I can live with the tradeoff.

Suggestions? Keep a closer eye on the amount of oil used for fries and Haystack Onions. Not sure how you're going to improve the seating situation; but I'd consider taking the music down a notch, especially when it's crowded. The decibel level in here climbs in a hurry. Otherwise, keep things as is; and watch the money flow in, and the happy faces file in and out. Smashburger is already one of the best burger places in town.

Smashburger is open 7 days a week, from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Keep an eye on your receipt: It contains a code # to access the restroom, and offers a FREE order of Smashfries if you fill out a brief survey.

Atmosphere: C+ (For someone my size, it's a tight fit. Noisy.)
Burger: B (Love the burger meat, but my fried egg was overdone.)
Fries: A- (Too much grease, but super delicious!)
Service: A- (It's only day one; so everyone's probably on their best behavior. Still, I left thoroughly impressed.)
Value: B (I'll save a dollar by sticking to a REGULAR burger in the future, and premium toppings aren't an everyday thing. Fries and Haystack Onions are downright cheap.)
Overall: B+ (It's not the biggest burger joint in DC; but it's still one of the best.)