Smashburger will open its Summerville store on Oct. 2 n Azalea Square, and the chain’s founder says more Charleston area locations are likely to follow.
“We don’t do one-offs in any market,” Tom Ryan says. “I think we’re going to build more.”
Since opening its first location in Denver in 2007, Smashburger has added more than 220 stores to its portfolio, including in Columbia last December.
Although Smashburger serves salads, chicken sandwiches and Haagen-Dazs shakes, it primarily promotes itself as a “better burger” purveyor: The chain’s name derives from its signature method of smashing beef on the grill to sear in its juices. The words “handcrafted,” “soul,” “artisan” and “olive oil” all pop up on Smashburger’s online “about” page.
“You’re not eating out of a bag,” Ryan says. “You’re eating with real knives and real forks.”
At Smashburger, customers place their orders at a counter, but the food’s delivered by a staffer. Ryan describes a Smashburger meal as a social occasion, enhanced by wine and beer served in frosted mugs. The chain strives to offer local craft beers which pair with its burgers, but Ryan says Charleston beer’s program is still in the works. “We’ll get to that within the next year,” he promises.
In the meantime, Ryan says the Summerville menu will list “local sodas” (Sundrop and Cheerwine) and a Carolina Burger developed for the Columbia store. The burger features American cheese, chili, yellow onion, Duke’s mayonnaise and slaw; it’s served on a pretzel bun. Ryan says the localized burger is typically a store’s second- or third-bestselling sandwich.
Smashburger will be open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily at 210 Azalea Square Blvd., Suite A.
Les Dames fundraiser
Les Dames d’Escoffier is now selling tickets for its annual fundraiser, an evening eat-and-drink sampling which benefits the groups’ scholarship fund.
The 36-year old philanthropic organization of female leaders in the food-and-beverage industry in 2005 established a Charleston chapter, which is hosting An Autumn Affair for the third time. The Oct. 3 event at Lowndes Grove Plantation will feature food and wine tasting, live music, member book sales and a silent auction.
Tickets to the event, which runs from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., cost $55 and are available at ldeicharleston.com.
Starbucks isn’t saying when its new pastry line will reach Charleston, but local staffers suspect the switchover’s imminent: According to a barista at the chain’s International Boulevard location, the store this month received new warming equipment.
The coffee giant in April rolled out La Boulange products at its stores in San Francisco, which birthed the bakery responsible for the upgraded cookies, cakes and croissants. The pastries are now available in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Chicago and New York, with Boston’s stores set to start carrying the sweets and savories this month.
Starbucks last year bought La Boulange for $100 million with the intention of elevating the quality of its baked goods. “Starbucks has 40 million customers per week in America,” La Boulange’s owner Pascal Rigo this spring told the San Francisco Chronicle. “How do you scale that? How do you bring great product to that many people?”
The answer seems to ride largely on appliances: According to the Chronicle, Starbucks is installing new freezers in every store, and repurposing existing ovens to toast items in less than 15 seconds. “Served hot” is the hallmark of the new pastry line, which is also instantly identifiable by pink paper display case labels and packaging. As Rigo told the Los Angeles Times, the new pastries are supposed to register as rustic and handmade.
The newly available pastries include chewy chocolate meringue cookies, banana pecan walnut loaf cakes, wheat spinach croissants and blueberry scones.
Dine out for GrowFood
Charleston diners habitually spend money on local food, but an Oct. 2 fundraiser will allow them to funnel a portion of that money toward a critical link in the local food distribution chain.
To mark the second anniversary of GrowFood Carolina, nearly two dozen restaurants have pledged to donate 5 percent of their daily sales to the food hub. GrowFood Carolina collects produce from 50 farmers in a single warehouse, simplifying the logistics of buying and selling for small farms and restaurants which could easily be overwhelmed by the logistical challenges posed by the ordering process. According to GrowFood, more than 100 restaurants and four retailers now patronize the warehouse.
Restaurants participating in the charitable event are Blu Restaurant, Burwell’s, Cru Cafe, Glass Onion, Green Door, Hank’s Seafood, Heart Woodfire Kitchen, High Cotton, Hominy, Husk, Langdon’s, McCrady’s, Mercato, Basico, Opal, Peninsula Grill, Republic Lounge, Slightly North of Broad, Ted’s Butcherblock, The Lot, Tristan, Verde and Xiao Bao Biscuit. For more information, go to growfoodcarolina.com.
Spring fish, fall menu
The fall menu at Circa 1886 is rich with dishes that most diners would immediately recognize as autumnal. The entree list includes duck breast with a mustard demi-glace, pork chop with Brussels sprouts and quail accompanied by rabbit sausage and pumpkin gnocchi, but the outlier of the bunch is halibut, which is generally recognized as a harbinger of spring.
In the Pacific Northwest, which this year has harvested nearly 19 million pounds of halibut, the opening of the commercial season is greeted with relief. Although the season runs for nine months, fishermen pining for a paycheck can catch 10 to 20 percent of the annual allowable catch in the season’s first few weeks.
This year, halibut season opened on March 23; it closes on Nov. 7.
“We can get by for a month or so,” says Circa 1886 executive chef Marc Collins of sourcing plans.
Still, the cognitive dissonance of seeing halibut dressed in fall colors points up one of the problems posed by the near-universal embrace of the seasonal eating mantra: Confining one’s diet to what’s being harvested right now isn’t always the most sustainable choice. As Collins says, “when you look at history, you had to preserve everything,” meaning eaters traditionally ended up putting less pressure on natural resources by eating pickled tomatoes in November and canned salmon in January.
By that measure, halibut makes good sense in September. Collins concedes late-season halibut is frequently frozen before it reaches the restaurant, often while still at sea, but he doesn’t think the processing adversely affects the product’s quality. That’s important, because it’s not just fish from far-off Alaska that’s frozen and defrosted prior to sale: Collins says he’s dealt with local bass that also have undergone freezing.
“It presents a problem with thinner fish,” he says. “But we like to have a thin fish and a steakier fish on the menu.”
The thinner fish on fall’s menu is snapper, served with kale chips and shallot jam.
Eager eaters who’ve lined up for copycat cronuts at Kaminsky’s can now put their dough-waiting skills to use at DeSano Pizza Bakery, which opened last Friday.
The much-anticipated pizzeria at 94 Stuart St. will observe a Monday through Saturday “from 11:30 a.m. until ‘out of dough’ ” schedule.
DeSano is operated by Scott DeSano, who in 2011 purchased Atlanta’s famed Antico Pizza and vowed to replicate its artisan approach nationwide. The restaurant doesn’t deviate from Neapolitan standards: The pies are rapidly baked in 6,000-pound ovens which heat up to more than 1,000 degrees (think of the pizza as barbecue’s antithesis). The 10 pizzas on DeSano’s menu are topped with a mix of local ingredients and Naples-made products.
DeSano also serves calzones, salads, beer and wine. The restaurant’s online at desanopizza.it, or call 637-4225 for more information.
Reach Hanna Raskin at 937-5560 or hraskin@post andcourier.com.