2515 Wilson Road
Highland Heights, KY
We were lured into Smashburger by a BOGO coupon included in a recent issue of The Enquirer. The menu looked promising - a black bean burger, several vegetarian salads, unique veggie sides like fried green chilies, fried pickles, flash-fried carrots and green beans, and sweet potato fries. Intrigued, we stopped in to check it out.
The interior is clean and inviting, and staff were friendly and very helpful. While customers order at a counter similar to any of the myriad fast food joints dotting highway exits, Smashburger reminded me of the burger equivalent of Chipotle, especially when I noticed that the restaurant, like Chipotle, offers bottled beer in addition to the standard soda fountain drinks. Kentucky locations also offer popular Ale-8-One, the only soft drink invented in Kentucky still in existence.
We shared a side of fried pickles ($2.29) to start, and I opted for the Spicy Baja Black Bean Burger ($4.99), which certainly lived up to its name. Chock full of freshly sliced jalapenos and red onion, then slathered in guacamole and spicy chipotle mayo and finished off with melted pepper-jack cheese, this sandwich isn't for the faint of heart. It will light you up - if you can actually figure out a way to eat it. Since we were both curious about their Smashfries (rosemary, olive oil, and garlic, $1.99), I added them to my order as well.
The wire serving trays may look stylish and bang-up-to-date, but the paper lining does little by way of containing drippings and juice. Messy, messy, messy.
Steve chose the Mushroom Swiss chicken sandwich ($5.99), which comes with your choice of grilled or fried chicken. He added chili cheese fries to his order for an extra $2.99. Unlike my sandwich, which was packed with flavor, his was limp, bland, and disappointing. Neither of us was impressed with the shoestring fries, which tasted freezer burnt.
The problem I had with Smashburger is that everything seems thrown together sloppily. From the over-sized patty on a buttery-slick bun to the lashings of condiments, I found it a struggle to handle my sandwich and not end up wearing half. Messy doesn't even begin to describe it. As it happened, I had several napkins in my lap and something still seeped through and ruined a pair of my good trousers. Epic fail!
Even though Steve and I both drank water and used a buy-one-get-one coupon, our meal still clocked in at over $16.00. There are scads of restaurants we can eat at for that price, and have a much more pleasurable experience. Eating should be enjoyable - Smashburger is not.