Update: The post now contains photos from the Clifton, New Jersey soft opening.
The Shops At Riverside
390 Hackensack Avenue
Hackensack, New Jersey
700 Route 3 West
Clifton, New Jersey
989 Bloomfield Ave
Montclair, New Jersey
Web Site: http://www.smashburger.com
Hackensack is indeed becoming something of a burger town, being home to the legendary White Manna, a long standing White Castle location in nearby Little Ferry as well as a Five Guys which opened in 2007.
This week, the town got its very own Smashburger, an upscale small chain of franchised burger restaurants (there are currently 78 stores nationwide in select markets) which focus on classic griddled burgers cooked with fresh ingredients using an interesting “smash” process.
A group of us were invited by the owners to give the place a try and sample the burgers. I was skeptical of trying yet another burger chain, but as you’ll sound find out, I was pleasantly surprised.
The Smashburger at the Shops at Riverside, in Hackensack NJ.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
The new Smashburger location at the Shops at Riverside is spacious and bright.
Le carte du Smash. Prices are consistent with the mass-market burger chains, but Smashburger uses much more higher quality ingredients in their burgers.
And the sides.
So why do they call it Smashburger? Well, they take big balls of ground Angus beef, and they use a “smasher” device on the grill and press the burgers flat for approximately 10 seconds on a single side, so that it sears the meat and seals in the juices.
Smashburger uses a proprietary blend of fresh ground Angus Beef which is delivered four times a week.
Burgers are either 8oz or 6oz patties depending on the order, and are cooked to 165 degrees, approximately medium well. Obviously, I’d prefer to get my burgers medium or medium rare, with some pink, but that’s food service and local health ordinances for you.
Burger production line.
The assembly process.
And out to a happy customer.
A view of the pass.
The counter ordering area.
Dining Room (Clifton)
Your order is brought to your table by efficient servers.
The first of several burgers our group tried. This is the Taylor Ham, fried Egg and Cheese Burger with frizzled fried “haystack” onions on top, meant as an ode to New Jersey. Despite the burgers being cooked well, they were still very juicy and tasty.
The fries are cooked in a blend of soybean oil and beef tallow, meant to replicate the original McDonald’s fries of many years ago. I think they’ve succeeded. Make sure you order your fries well done, though.
The group’s favorite burger by far was the “New Jersey” Smashburger, which has blue cheese, apple-wood smoked bacon, frizzled onions, sauteed onions, lettuce tomato and mayo on an onion bun.
The only disappointment so far has been the fact that while all the produce is fresh, the tomatoes were of the white-core variety. During the middle of August, ripe tomatoes shouldn’t be a problem in New Jersey.
Bun and Lettuce closeup. The buns, like the burger mix, are a proprietary type baked for the company. Additionally, several different bun types are used for different sandwiches, an Egg Bun, an Onion Bun, and a Multi-grain.
In addition to the regular fries, they have herbed Smashburger fries and also sweet potato fries, shown here.
We also tried two different types of chicken sandwiches which were both very good. At left, a fried chicken sandwich with buffalo wing sauce and bleu cheese served with chili cheese fries (which Rachel pronounced as excellent) and the Avocado Club Smashchicken to the right, with ranch dressing and served on a multi-grain bun.
Here’s a particularly nice shot of one of the chicken sandwiches coming right off the pass.
Mushroom Swiss, another porn shot at the pass.
Rachel felt these were way too salty but I grew quite fond of these fried pickle chips.
These “Veggie fries” while a good concept, came out limp.
Smashburger also has salads for those of you not burger or sandwich inclined. To the left, the Ranch Chicken Club with fried chicken pieces, bacon, tomatoes, red onion and cheddar cheese with romaine lettuce.
To the right is my personal favorite of the two, the Harvest Chicken, with Romaine, baby spinach and arugula, with grilled chicken, balsamic tomatoes, raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. Whew!
In addition to the signature burgers on the menu, you can order completely custom burgers as well. Here I’ve instructed Rachel to order a massive burger, strictly for photographic purposes, of course.
If it’s a particularly crazy order though, you might fluster the poor girl at the POS.
Bacon Cheeseburger with Fried Onions.
Topped with chili.
This is a Godzilla-sized custom burger, a Double 1/2 pounder (pre-cooked weight) with Swiss, Mushrooms and Bacon.
And I even put some bleu cheese on top for good measure. Huge chunks of burger fell off of this, which I gave to Rachel, which she couldn’t finish. I only advise going the double half-pounder route if you are EXTREMELY hungry, and are within half hour’s driving distance from home, should you encounter any intestinal distress.
Smashburger’s shakes are made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream. We tried a classic chocolate shake (made with the company’s own proprietary chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream), a strawberry malted, the mint oreo and a black cherry wishniak float. I liked all of them.
Stewart’s Sodas, used for the floats.
Scooping out the Haagen-Dazs.
So what did we think of Smashburger? We think it’s a great addition to Bergen County and it’s an excellent dining value and a great alternative to the myriad of other fast food establishments vying for the attention of our local diners. They’ve clearly raised the bar on franchise burger quality and when I’m in the mood for a serious cheeseburger, fries and shake that won’t break my wallet, I’ll be definitely heading back.