I’m Smashed: A Review of SmashBurger

By Jesse | September 29, 2013

A couple weeks back I bought a Groupon for a deal at a new burger place in Chicago. SmashBurger. Six bucks for twelve dollars worth of burgers, fries and shakes. Sounded right up my alley. A couple of clicks, and bam, I was ready for some SmashBurger at 50% off.

In typical Groupon manner, I forgot that I bought it. It languished in my email for weeks until I received a reminder that my Groupon was ready to expire. I was determined to not get Grouponed this time, and immediately B-lined to get SmashBurgered.

SmashBurger is another example of a chain attempting to elevate the burger past it’s lowly history of steam-broiled chuck meat or drive-through convenience. With such fancy burgers as the “Colorado”, the “Spicy Baja, and the “Truffle Mushroom Swiss”, they are catering to a more upscale crowd. Think middle-class office workers and frat boy marketing majors. Their attempt to set themselves apart from burger noise is with the “smash” burger. Honestly, I’m not sure what that means. And it wasn’t clear in their site. I’m guessing they smash the meat, but whether that’s during prep, or one the fryer, I’m really not sure.

I got my food to-go, and didn’t spend a lot of time evaluating the environment. It was close to empty at the time.  It was post-eight on a Saturday night, not exactly prime time in the fast food business. The decor was new and nice, the sort of thing you find in a new strip mall in a nice suburb. The service was friendly, and the food appeared to be made to order.

I went with the Bacon Cheeseburger, Smashfries(R), and a Haagen-Dazs(R) Oreo Shake. The total came out slightly more than my twelve dollar Groupon, a hefty total for a fast food restaurant.

Let’s start with the shake:

SmashBurger Oreo Shake

It looks good right? Whip cream, Haagen Dazs, Oreo Crumbs. It was good too. In way that all pizza and sex is good. It was not the best shake I’ve had. It was no triple thick shake. It was watery, or rather, milky. This was my first Oreo Shake, and it tasted like a watered down Blizzard. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Could I have enjoyed it more? Definitely.

Moving on to the SmashFries:

IMG_0949

These babies were California-style garlic fries. Except really skinny. Like Steak and Shake skinny. Ultra shoe-string fries. And they were cold, soggy, and not especially flavorful. I did have a ten minute drive home, but that shouldn’t have been enough for these to get as cold and gross as they were. They were bad. Real bad. Some of the worst fries I’ve ever had. My theory: skinny ass-fries cannot handle the oil that they shake these things in to get the garlic and rosemary to stick. Maybe OK right out of the frier, but a few minutes later and these are soggy and gross. Strike two.

How about that SmashBurger?

SmashBurger - Burger

SmashBurger - Burger Inside

The burger was a sloppy mess of bacon, cheese, and “smashed” meat on a sesame seed bun. It reminded me of a Burger King bacon cheeseburger, with a slight char-broiled flavor. It was by far the best item I ordered. However, it was nothing remarkable. It tasted like a slightly upscale fast food burger.

The verdict? Pass on this place. SmashBurger positions itself as a step above the competition, but it fails to stand out. I’ve had much better meals at McDonalds for less.  It’s just another new burger place destine to languish in mediocrity. Do yourself a favor and save your calories and money.

2 Patties – Do yourself a favor and save your calories for something better

 

Madison, WI the #2 City for Fast Food Spending?

By Jesse | November 2, 2012

I was going to write this post about an article on The Huffington Post about a Kansas McDonald’s Franchise getting charged $400K for hiring undocumented workers…but in typical HuffPo style, there was an even more interesting slide show at the bottom of the article, “The Top 10 Cities for Fast Food Spending.”

Low and behold my hometown, Madison, WI, was listed at the #2 city for Fast Food spending per resident. Dang. There’s definitely a lot of fast food in Madtown, but for a city known for it’s liberal ideals and healthy, outdoor lifestyle, it was a bit shocking.

I won’t deny there’s a fair share of fatties in Wisconsin. Long winters, fatty food, and great beer are a recipe for plumpness. But Madison also has an incredibly fit population. Hell, they host an Iron Man every year. I’ve witnessed runners on Christmas morning training in a foot of snow. Practically all my family members that still live there have participated in at least one marathon.

Here’s my suspicion. It’s the college kids. 40K plus students, almost 25% of the population, makes for a lot of late night fast food visits. When I was in college there, both a Qdoba and a Chipotle opened within blocks of each other. Both were packed on a daily basis. The Qdoba would have 300 person lines at 3:00 morning Friday and Saturday night. That’s a lot of Federal Loan money getting pumped into fast food.

Free Doritos Locos Taco at Taco Bell! Today only!

By Jesse | October 30, 2012

Get a free Doritos Loco Taco today at Taco Bell from 2pm – 6pm. This is in honer of a base being stolen during the World Series.

And…it’s Taco Tuesday!

Fast Food News: Burger King Delivery

By Jesse | March 9, 2012

The following guest post is brought to you buy Burger King Delivers and is written by Lynn Jackson.

Burger King’s delivery service, which was launched in the DC area in the fall of 2011, is currently expanding to the rest of the country. The service slaps a $2 delivery fee onto its regular prices and offers the full range of its menu items to any location within a 10-minute drive of participating stores. Burger King delivery hours vary from store to store, but typically begin after breakfast, from 11am (forget rubbery pancakes at your door) to 10pm (no luck for your late night munchies).

As the world’s second largest hamburger chain, Burger King hopes its delivery service will bump its famous flame-broiled recipe to the forefront of your fast-food cravings. Especially since McDonald’s convenience ends at drive-thrus and an extremely limited delivery service (exclusive to NYC-based business offices).

With a surge of online delivery websites, including GrubHub.com, Delivery.com, and Campusfood.com, offering a wide-variety of restaurants that deliver web orders to your door, why would you choose Burger King delivery? It requires an $8-$10 minimum purchase and an up-to-30 minute delivery wait, the delivery service defeats the whole point of fast food – fast food is supposed to be cheap and fast. Instead, why not order a fresh salad from your neighborhood Italian joint? Support your health, while supporting a local business.

Who knows whether this is a passing fad or the beginning of a major fast food milestone? Domino’s Spokesman Tim McIntyre is skeptical. “We wish them luck,” he says, “There is a reason that not all pizza places deliver: It isn’t easy.”

2011

By Jesse | December 29, 2011

Hola Amigos, it’s been awhile since I last rapped at ya. All and all it’s been a slow year here on Fast Food Reviewed. As you can probably see, I’ve more or less given up on updating this site. Mostly because I don’t eat much as much fast food and I have a hard time endorsing it to the public. However, my fascination with America’s food will likely never die, so expect to see the occasional morsel here and there from me in 2012.

I’m Never Ordering Pizza Hut Again

By Jesse | April 11, 2011

Last weekend I was having a food crisis. I was hungry, didn’t want to go anywhere, and couldn’t make up my mind on what I wanted to order.

I stumbled on a banner add for Pizza Hut’s Ultimate Stuffed Crust Pizza while checking my Yahoo email for delivery coupons. The ad looked so enticing I decided to order.

As a child, Pizza Hut was my favorite. I loved that silly book club with the free Personal Pan Pizza’s after reading five books. It was about as close as my family ever got to going to a real restaurant. They seated you, you had wait staff, and even desert pizza. And the best part was that the food was actually good.

It’s been a slow decline for Pizza Hut. It started with the four years of indulging in the all-you-can eat Pizza Hut buffet on State Street in Madison. I rationalized it as “buffet” food. Of course it wasn’t as good as ordering it fresh. It only got worse when I moved to Chicago. Every pizza was worse than the last. This “Ultimate Stuffed Crust” was the final nail in the coffin.

The experience first when wrong with the online ordering process. The process lead me to believe that I was getting a large pizza with the “ultimate stuffed crust” and the same toppings on the pizza. This was in fact incorrect. I will admit to some of the blame here. This very well could have been operator error fueled by a hangover. However, it got worse. The order never officially took. It froze in the processing state, and I had to do something we’ve all become accustom to hating, speaking to a live human being on the phone while placing an order.

They had in fact received my order. You would think I would have been able to clarify exactly what I would be getting at this stage, but unfortunately, the Pizza Hut employee’s English was about as good as my Spanish, which is to say it was muy malo. He was a nice guy and I hate to fault him, but I had no idea what he said besides that he had received my order.

The pizza and my chicken wings arrived at a decent time, but that was the last good thing I have to say about my food. I wish I would have taken a few photos, but I was too appalled that I was going to put that monster in my body. So this is getting classified as From the Editor’s Desk and not an official review.

Anyway, first off, my pizza was not what I intended to order. It was an Ultimate Stuffed Crust pizza, but only cheese. I thought I was getting the same meat trio that was rolled up in the crust on the pizza itself. The pizza was slightly cold, salty as hell, and generally lousy. The crust was the best part, and that’s not saying much.

My chicken wings were just as bad. It looked like someone had baked a few wings and just squirted some pre-packaged sauce on top without bothering to mix it at all. The sauce was a dark reddish orange, not typical to your usual buffalo wing sauce. The wings were small and low quality.

Needless to say, I still ate the whole thing in one day. It was gross and I wish I could take it back. That was the last straw Pizza Hut. After a twenty plus year relationship, I’m calling it quits. Luckily Papa John’s is now back in Chicago.


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