It may seem odd that a vegan, on occasion, posts about really ‘meaty’ places to visit. Many may remember that not all of the Canny Food family are vegetarian, let alone vegan. The Teen is adamant now that he wants to eat animal products, although I do restrict this at home. When we’re out and about, however, I do put my own feelings aside. I can’t force my ethics and opinions on others, it simply isn’t fair. I hope one day he may change his mind, but that’s down to his conscience.I’d been interested to learn about the opening of Smashburger in the Toon, one of only a handful within the UK. We know how saturated the Newcastle scene has been for burgers and BBQ of late, but the word on the street was that their burgers were pretty good. You can choose from a list of pre-existing burgers or have the option to create your own. As a vegan I wanted to know what I could have, seeing as the Teen was pretty much set on something with bacon.I asked if the had an allergen menu or any information about what the buns contained, as you’ll often find burger joints use brioche buns. Helpfully this listed ingredients and was quite happy to see that SFV products were available.After perusing this list I discovered that the Avocado Ranch would be suitable with a few adaptions. Not being a fan of this ‘super food’ I felt it was best to build my own vegan friendly burger instead.You make your decision and then order at the counter. There’s a soda machine with all manner of flavor combinations to choose from – similar to what can now be found in Five Guys and Burger King – but the Teen had decided he was going to try out their handspun milkshakes. He naturally chose an Oreo shake, which came with extra to top up his glass and he slurped through it.My Mushroom ‘Patty’ arrived first and I have to admit I was a little let down by its appearance. Once I put it together it looked slightly better, but a larger Portobello Mushroom may have been more impressive and resembled a ‘proper’ patty. That said, I enjoyed it a bit more than the Tofu I’d eaten recently at The Grind. The mix of ketchup and mustard definitely acts as a reminder of those hamburgers I ate as a child, confirming what most vegans already assert about eating meat. It isn’t the flavour of the meat we remember or miss, it is the seasoning and the sauces that really make a good burger. Get those right on a veggie alternative – as well as the ‘bite’ – and you’re probably going to find this healthier alternative just as appealing.The Teen’s signature beef burger topped with Applewood bacon, cheddar and haystack onions (£8.50) was a bit more impressive on the looks front.Of course, he couldn’t help but smother everything in ketchup. When do kids get over this fixation?! I find it gross. I don’t know how he can taste anything with all that sugary vinegary gloop on top! He had the SmashFries with his while I opted for the sweet potato version. What do these SmashFries have over regular skinny chips, I hear you cry? They are apparently tossed in Italian olive oil, rosemary and garlic. Call me a heathen but I really didn’t notice any difference to chips I’ve had in many burger joints up and down the country.
He’s not normally into onions, but we were told that their haystack onions were extremely popular. I ordered a side for him to see what was so special and he loved them. These are not suitable for vegans, as an FYI.
Once we were told that there were Oreo doughnuts available for dessert he said he had to give it a try too. The cookie pieces had lost some of their crunch but he made short work of the sweet ending to his meal. There was nothing I could have as a pud but I’m kind of used to that.I was pleasantly surprised that Smashburger did accommodate me, expecting to maybe only have a salad during my visit. That said, I do think it’s on the expensive side for what’s on offer when local burger restaurants like Fat Hippo and The Grind offer more substantial burgers for a comparable (or cheaper) price point. I also feel that somewhere like Handmade Burger Co. has a wider selection of vegetarian and vegan friendly alternatives with soya based milkshakes too, if that’s what tickles your taste buds. Because of the sheer volume of choice we have now in the area I worry that chains like this may not hang round for long but I don’t know if many would mourn its loss. The staff are a cheerful and friendly bunch which makes it a shame. As I said with recent opening The Purple Bear, Smashburger has perhaps hit the Newcastle food scene a little too late to have any impact.
Thanks for reading,