The Experience: Smashburger was a little hard for me, an outsider, to find. All the shopping centers looked alike, signage was, by ordinance, minimal. I finally found the right place, next to a Trader Joe’s. It was about 10:30. Not many people were there at all, everyone was still golfing, with the kids at the lacrosse field, or doing whatever busy, socially conscious, upscale people do on Saturday mornings. I’d read ahead a little. The lady at the counter, whose name I did not get, greeted me and asked if I’d like to see a menu. I said yes, even though I knew what I’d be ordering. I ordered, paid and was told it would be five to seven minutes. In the meantime I found out from the lady that she’d been there since the store opened, three years, and that she’d come from the St. Charles location where she had worked since it opened. A Smashburger lifer, impressive. Had I just stumbled into the place I would have probably ordered one of the many other burgers offered. But since I was on assignment from Burger Weekly, I ordered the St. Louis Burger and Smash Fries.
As I waited I looked around. Clean, modern, not plastic feeling. Tall ceilings, exposed and painted flat black metal rafters and ducts. the primary color theme was black, red, and off-white. On each table were plenty of napkins and condiments, the basics, mustard and ketchup, name brand, not generic. Overhead, music played, contemporary pop, Katy Perry, et al. Not exactly my favorite form of music, but infinitely better than Country or Nordic Opera. Sure enough, in about five minutes the lady brought out my food, on paper, in a metal rack-tray. I’d already poured myself some un-sweet ice tea.
Burger Ordered: The St. Louis Burger
The Taste: The St. Louis Smashburger replicates the essence of St. Louis style pizza; onions, peppers and mushrooms blended in to a melty, creamy, Provel cheese. Provel, pretty much only available in the St. Louis region, is a trademarked blend of Cheddar, Swiss and Provolone. Designed specifically for St. Louis style pizza over fifty years ago, primarily for texture more than unique or distinct taste, Provel is a mild, slightly salty blend that stays soft even at room temperature and does not string out when eaten. This combination of toppings compliments Smashburger’s thin Angus patty quite well. Not at all spicy, messy, or overpowering, it’s just a pretty darned good savory burger combination. The pretzel bun is tasty, but maybe a little too heavy and dense for this offering. A thin burger like this can easily handle a lighter bun. St. Louis style pizza after all, is always on a thin crust.
The Verdict: The St. Louis Smashburger indeed captures some of the unique spirit of St. Louis’ tastes quite well, as close as possible without including toasted ravioli or gooey butter cake. Because this is St. Louis after all, it is best paired up with one of the many Anheuser Busch products also available at Smashburger.
Smashburger is located at 1671 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield, Missouri.
To read more of Dennis’ Burger Adventures, check out Eat and Critique.