The problem with the abundant, booming popularity of hamburgers in this city is that for most restaurants, having a burger on the menu is more of an obligation than an option. Unless a restaurant is dedicated to a very specific type of cuisine, there’s gonna be a hamburger on the menu.
Remember that scene in Chef where Dustin Hoffman crushes Jon Favreau’s dreams of cooking a personal menu, telling him that he’ll continue to cook what he’s become famous for, and he’ll like it?
I imagine that some variation on that scene plays out every time a chef in a restaurant like Smash Kitchen and Bar decides he has no interest in making a hamburger.
Oh, you don’t want to serve a burger? Do you still want to be employed tomorrow?
This is all a fairly roundabout way of saying that the burger at Smash feels perfunctory. It feels joyless. It’s not bad; it’s alright. But it’s clearly made by someone who doesn’t quite understand what makes a good hamburger so special. By someone who doesn’t really care.
I ordered the Smash Burger, which is described as being topped with “Cheddar cheese, onion rings, Smash sauce.”
I normally like to mention whether a burger has been griddled or grilled, but honestly, the burger was so middle-of-the-road that I don’t remember. Nothing about this hamburger is particularly memorable, other than its in-your-face mediocrity.
It wasn’t horrible, but the patty is vaguely meatloafy and oddly sweet, with a middling, barely-there beefy flavour and a slightly mealy texture.
The condiments were fine and the bun was fine. The whole thing was fine. It’s certainly not great, but it tastes okay and it basically gets the job done.
It’s clear that the kitchen at this restaurant can put out food that’s better than okay, because the fries were quite good, as were the appetizer and dessert that I tried. But it’s also clear that they serve a burger not because they want to, but because they have to.
Basically: it’s obligatory. And it tastes obligatory.