Last Thursday night, Tom and I were invited to a media event at the Highland Heights Smashburger to try out their new food pairings with Christian Moerlein beers. Neither of us had been to a Smashburger so we didn’t really know what to expect. We decided to split the blogging responsibilities on this one. Tom will cover the beer and beer pairings over on Hoperatives (review on Hoperatives) and I’m going to cover the food offerings here.
We started with a sampling of the many sides available at Smashburger.
These included Smash fries (tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic – so nice) and sweet potato fries. (Regular fries are also available.)
Then, there was fried pickle chips and the very unusual fried banana pepper rings. Personally, I was so happy to see fried pickle chips instead of spears. Chips are so much better. These things were damn addictive.
Finally, there were Haystack onions (really thin onion rings) and what they call Veggie Frites (green beans and carrots that are flash fried). Really good! And these last four sides all came with their own dipping sauce.
After we were all settled down and had enjoyed the sides, Smashburger owner (and former Cincinnati resident) Tom Ryan and Moerlein VP & Lager House Brewmaster Richard Dube walked us through the pairings. Each burger or chicken sandwich is pictured below with the Moerlein beer it was paired with (except the Classic Smash Burger photo where I forget to position the beer in the right place. It was paired with Helles by the way).
The Classic Smash Burger is your basic burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion and mayo. I liked the fact that it was on a multi-grain bun to make it a bit different. Basic, but very well done.
This was my favorite. The Mushroom Swiss burger has sautéed baby portabella mushrooms, mayo and aged Swiss on an egg bun with no produce on it. That was a good decision for this particular burger. Lettuce, tomato or even onion would have been too much. And the cremini mushrooms were such a good choice for this.
The BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Burger (with BBQ sauce, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar and haystack onions) was my second favorite. So decadent that this will probably be my “special occasions only” choice at Smash Burger.
This burger is one that is only available in our area. Take those fried pepper rings I talked about earlier add American cheese, haystack onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Put it all on an egg bun and you have a very unique burger for the Buckeye state.
The Spicy Veggie Black Bean Burger (with fresh jalapenos, guacamole, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo on a spicy chipotle bun) lived up to its name. The texture of the burger though reminded me more of falafel than black bean burgers I’ve tried in the past. This veggie option is also available in a non-spicy version. (Believe me, the spicy version is definitely spicy.)
The chicken sandwiches at Smashburger are different than your usual “throw a chicken breast on a bun” sandwiches. Take that chicken breast and pound it like you’re making chicken schnitzel or chicken parmesan. Then marinate it in all sorts of wonderful flavors. The result is a chicken sandwich that cooks in the same amount of time as a burger, but stays moist and flavorful. I’ll be ordering more of these.
For this chicken sandwich, take the chicken we just talked about and then add fresh avocado, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing and mayo. Place it all on a multi-grain bun. I only wish that the avocado had been sliced a bit thinner. I would probably forego the ranch and mayo next time too. The avocado is enough.
We finished the night with samples of their Häagen-Dazs milk shakes. I’m not a fan of fake fruit flavors ever since I had a bad experience with Froot Loops as a child. This strawberry shake was not fake at all and the strawberry flavor was not overpowering. As Goldilocks would have said, it was just right.
All in all, I’m really looking forward to our next visit to Smashburger so we can enjoy their burgers and Christian Moerlein beers together. Now, if they would just open one in Burlington or Hebron…