WESTWOOD - When you picture the perfect burger, you might imagine a jumbo-sized, hand-packed patty. But according to Rod Boyer, the best kind of beef isn't packed; it's smashed.
"The secret is in the smash. The fat on the beef combined with the butter and the heat, it creates what we call meat candy. We believe, truly believe, that magic happens when heat meets meat."
Though Smashburger has locations all over the world, Westwood marks one of its newest locations. It isn't just the meat that's made this place so popular. It's everything from the fresh toppings to the buttery egg buns.
"Burger lovers told us that they want true, fresh, crunchy produce. We also use artisan cheeses and artisan buns," Rod explained. "So we think that when you taste our burger, you'll understand why it's better than any burger on the market."
Service is fast, but it's not exactly "fast food". The Smashburger experience starts by ordering at the register, and then you'll quickly see what sets this casual restaurant apart.
"You're going to walk in and place your order and then we'll bring it fresh to you in about four minutes. We're also going to check back in on you like a full-service restaurant. We're going to bus your table for you. We're going to refill your drinks. We want them to walk out not only impressed with the quality of the food, but the quality of the service," Rod said.
You may only wait four minutes for your food, but you're not being served a sandwich that's been sitting around. What you're eating was made just for you, only moments ago.
"It's magic, man. It looks like organized chaos," he said. "They're making every burger fresh for you exactly the way you want it, with exactly the toppings you want."
Some of these fresh favorites include the Classic Smash topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle and cheese, and the BBQ Bacon Cheddar slathered with sauce and packed with crunchy onion strings.
Smashburger also offers burger specials, like the Colorado Burger capped with melted cheddar, pepperjack cheese, and sliced chilies on a chipotle bun, along with regional specialties like the New Englander - finished with cranberry sauce, griddled onions and cranberry stilton cheese.
"We really play to regional flavors, so being in New England, obviously cranberries," pointed out Rod. "You should get the sweetness as well as a bit of tart. And then the cheese is a very creamy cheese, a smooth and creamy flavor on top of that great beef."
If Angus beef isn't your thing, there are also smashed chicken sandwiches like the Spinach, Cucumber and Goat Cheese drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and served on a wheat bun, and the Chicken Avocado Club with rich ranch dressing.
"Too many times, there's just one chicken sandwich offering, and the neat thing about our menu is you get to put any of our proteins on any of our burgers," explained Rod. "But the Avocado Club really stands out as being a great chicken sandwich. It's personally my favorite chicken sandwich on the menu."
Though you have your pick of proteins, the hardest decision you'll have to make is which side dish to order. Of course, the easiest option is the standard SmashFries seasoned with rosemary and thyme. But you may also want to try sweet potato fries sprinkled with sea salt, Buffalo fries finished with a spicy dry rub, fried pickles served with buttermilk ranch sauce for dipping, or the thin and crunchy Haystack Onions.
"We take a yellow onion; we shave it thin by hand every morning, and we toss it by hand so it coats," Rod described. "If you eat it, you should be able to taste the onion right away. It should finish really sweet with a little bit of salt. It's fantastic."
The burgers may be juicy and the fries seasoned to perfection, but nothing finishes a meal quite like an extra-thick milkshake studded with bits of Butterfinger or Oreo cookies, and finished with whipped cream.
"It's very different than most milkshakes you get anywhere else, which tend to be a little bit thin. This is a heavy milkshake. You can eat it with a spoon or you can drink it through a straw. It gives them a nice way to end with something sweet and tasty."
At Smashburger it's about more than great taste. As Rod will tell you, it's all about a great value.
"Value is way more than menu price," said Rod. "Value is somebody checking in on you, refilling your drink, giving you a spotless place to eat, recognizing you by name when you're a return customer. We're kind of known for our food; I'd love to be known for our level of service as well."
The newest Smashburger is at 203 University Avenue in Westwood and online at smashburger.com. There is also a location in Natick and coming soon to Medford.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.
for more features.