Smash burger phenomenon crosses Atlantic and lands in Waterloo

Smash burger phenomenon crosses Atlantic and lands in Waterloo
Credit: Belga

It's the fast-food sensation in the United States and now, after Brussels, Liège and Mons, it's Waterloo's turn to succumb to the smash burger phenomenon.

Savage Burger, a concept launched by two locals, has been open on the Chaussée de Bruxelles in Waterloo for about two weeks and is the first restaurant to offer the smash burger in Walloon Brabant.

What's the fuss all about? A smash burger is exactly what it sounds like: balls of ground beef smashed onto a hot, buttered griddle before being flattened by a special tool for ten seconds to flatten it. The burgers are not typically pressed any further once they begin to cook.

The technique, perfected by two industry veterans in the US back in 2007, caramelizes the bottom of the patty onto the griddle and locks the juices into the burger, preventing them from escaping and marinating the burger in its own juices.

The two Waterloo entrepreneurs behind Savage Burger – brothers Jérôme and Karim – are no strangers to concept cooking. The duo were also early adopters of the Tabù concept, an ultra-trendy resto-bar style dedicated to food sharing. After discovering the smash burger on a visit to the United States, they decided to import this US speciality.

"We tested the concept during the lockdown by organising takeaways and deliveries," explains Jérôme. "We felt that the city centre lacked diversity."

"What I like about smash is its meat that is crispy on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside," he continues.

Bringing smash burgers to Belgium

With their fine eye for detail, the brothers have heightened the dining experience by bringing classic American decor to their restaurant. As for the menu, Savage Burger currently offers four burgers, but they will very soon launch a new range, which will vary according to the seasons.

"We offer two smash burgers," says Jérôme. "The base is identical; two crushed meat patties, cheddar, tomato, pickles, salad and onions, but the sauce varies. The Original is with mustard and ketchup, just like the smash burgers served in the United States. The Signature is prepared with our own homemade sauce. I can't reveal its ingredients, all I can tell you is that it is a reworked mayonnaise!"

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Keen to please every palate, the Savage Burger team also offers a crispy chicken burger with a spicy ranch sauce and a vegetarian smash burger. "We prepare homemade falafel that we crush like a Black Angus patty," says Jerome.

And no burger is complete without a decent bun. Designed in collaboration with a local baker, Savage Burger's bread is a fluffy brioche which the brothers say perfectly complements the burger. 

For dessert, a selection of Italian milkshakes and ice creams should fill any gap you have left.

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