The number of fast casual burger restaurants in Edmonton just keeps on growing. On July 3, 2013, the Edmonton area’s first Smashburger franchise opened up in Sherwood Park, joining the likes of Fatburger, Five Guys, Rodeo Burger and The Burger Joint in an increasingly crowded burger scene. In many ways, it’s not surprising – North America’s love affair of the hamburger is well-documented, and with palates leaning more towards fresher alternatives, those offering something a step above drive-thru fare are blossoming. The Sherwood Park location is Canada’s third Smashburger, adding to Alberta’s glut, with two already situated in Calgary.
Mack and I attended the media reception in early July, eager to see how Smashburger would differentiate itself from others. It turns out, Smashburger attempts to distinguish its beef burgers with its proprietary cooking process: meatballs, rolled fresh daily, are “smashed” on the grill to order, a method, they promise, provides a caramelized sear that seals in the patty’s natural juices.
We were invited to order whatever we desired from the menu, a very generous offer. Featuring a number of pre-designed beef and grilled chicken burger creations, salads, and sides, prices ranged from $5.99-$8.49 for burgers. For more creative (or particular) eaters, Smashburger also offers a “create your own” option.
Mack immediately gravitated towards the Edmonton burger (each city features a recipe inspired by regional flavours). In this case, a beef or grilled chicken patty is topped with grilled onions, cheddar, BBQ sauce and a fried egg. A Saskatoon berry shake and poutine are also exclusive to the Canadian menu.
I decided to stick with the Classic Smash, with American cheese, Smash sauce, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion on an egg bun. Mack chose a poutine side, while I chose the Haystack onions.
Su and Joveena
Portions were generous, and everything was delivered piping hot. Both of us enjoyed our respective burgers, but save my sweet egg bun, I’m not sure I’d be able to identify the burger in a blind taste test. I did appreciate that the Smash sauce was given as a side, which gave me control over how much I wanted to add, but Mack commented how much it reminded him of a certain “special sauce” at a rival quick-service giant.
Edmonton Burger and poutine
The sides, however, left something to be desired. Shoestring fries are not ideal for poutine, as they aren’t as suited to be weighted under the layers of gravy and cheese. My Haystack onions were more like the onion straws used as a textural addition to burgers, instead of the substantial battered and fried rings I’m used to. They were also incredibly salty. I’m sure this is just a personal preference, but I prefer my onion rings whole and not shredded.
Classic Smash and haystack onions
The service that night was over the top, as expected, though I’d be curious to see how it has toned itself down as the staff settle into a more typical rhythm.
Located in Emerald Hills, one of the newer neighbourhoods of Sherwood Park, it was a bit of a shame the Edmonton attendees didn’t decide to carpool before hand. The drive was close to 45 minutes from downtown in rush hour traffic, so it would be doubtful we’d undertake such a commute if we didn’t already have plans in the area. That said, if we were looking for a fast casual burger in Sherwood Park, we wouldn’t mind returning to Smashburger just for their namesake dish. Thanks to the restaurant for the invitation!
Want to give it a try yourself? For a chance to win $25 in Smashburger gift certificates, leave a comment below (with a valid e-mail address) with the name of the burger you’d order off of the local menu. Contest closes on July 26, 2013 at 11:59pm. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator and contacted by e-mail.
EDIT (July 28, 2013): Congratulations to Jessica for winning $25 in Smashburger gift certificates! Thanks to everyone who entered.
#530, 500 Emerald Drive, Sherwood Park
Hours: 10am-10pm daily