With Shake Shack expanding to Brooklyn, you'd think other burger flippers in the borough would flee. But instead, a new spot that quietly opened on the corner of Smith Street and Baltic on Monday seems to be ready for a fight. Burger on Smith, conceived by chefs Blessing Schuman-Strange and Kyle Huebbe, takes a secret blend of grass-fed beef, ground fresh daily at the nearby butcher Paisanos, and griddles them on cast-iron rather than a steel flattop or gas grill.* The cast-iron gets you a better press on the patties so they come away a little crustier without overcooking, Schuman-Strange tells us.
There are close to two dozen topping options, or you can pick from nine combos on the menu, including the Trademark: Cheddar cheese and horseradish-chive aiïoli on a Portuguese muffin. This one is already a winner: It took top prize in 2009's Brooklyn Paper best burger contest and the Brooklyn Burger Bash of the same year.
Most items on the menu are local, sustainable, or organic, and anything that can be made in house is. But there are a few favorite items that the chefs can't live without that have to be shipped in. That includes green chilies from New Mexico where Schuman-Strange became addicted to them, and those Portuguese muffins that the pair have yet to find anywhere but Cape Cod. The beer list is bottles for now while a tap system is being installed. It's an impressive compilation of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic brews like McNeill's IPA — a small-production brewery in Vermont turning out old-world-style beers.
Some of the trappings of the Asian restaurant that previously occupied the space remain — cherry blossom mosaics and a portrait of Chairman Mao. But somehow these aren't discordant with the woven wood wall behind the bar and the antlers on the walls. Hours are 4 to 11 p.m. daily; see the menu below.
Burger on Smith, 209 Smith St., at Baltic St., Cobble Hill; 718-694-2277
*This post originally referred to the restaurant as Burgersmith. We received word that the name is now Burger on Smith, owing to legal reasons.